Weaving together the romance between a woman and her horse and the wonder and majesty of whales earned David Huebert the CBC Short Story Prize.
The English PhD candidate penned Enigma, a tale of a woman who is wrestling with ending the life of her beloved horse and the challenge of her partner, Serge, to understand and empathize with this heartfelt pain. The story is intertwined with references to a whale-watching excursion at Digby Neck on the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia.
Huebert’s story will be published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine. He will receive a 10-day writing residency at The Banff Centre and $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts.
“It’s crazy. I was overwhelmed and surprised and suspected it was a prank,” he joked. “I was obviously deliriously happy.”
He is looking forward to the writing residency, as it will grant him the opportunity to focus on his work in an inspiring environment.
Huebert wrote Enigma for the contest and based it on his personal experiences with horses, particularly his mother and sister’s love and relationship to the animals, as well as a personal adventure whale watching.
“It’s about human/animal love – love between a woman and a horse. It’s about a moment that challenges that love and a moment of profound grief. Another thing I thought was interesting was the relationship between Serge, the narrator’s partner, and Serge was challenged by this grief that overwhelmed anything he could actually do. The human empathy is challenged by one human’s love for an animal that the other can’t quite understand.”
The representations of animal life in American literature is a focus of Huebert’s research and is a theme he explores throughout his personal writing of poetry, fiction and critical prose.
Enigma is “also about the wonder of non-human life. That’s why I had the whale-watching scene and the horse story stitched together because of the way these giants and animals can move us in ways that other humans just can’t.”
Huebert joins company with some of Canada’s best writers who received CBC Literary Prizes and went on to receive national and international acclaim since the program began in 1979, such as Shauna Singh Baldwin, George Bowering, Camilla Gibb, Frances Itani, Michael Ondaatje, Leon Rooke, Carol Shields and Michael Winter.
Huebert is the author of the poetry collection We Are No Longer The Smart Kids In Class. In 2015 his fiction won The Dalhousie Review’s short story contest and The Antigonish Review’s Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize. Enigma is part of a collectionin-progress called Peninsula Sinking.
“The fact that I was chosen, I feel incredibly lucky,” he said. “I feel really happy I was picked.”