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UNB alumna wins prestigious international literary award

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jun 26, 2019

Category: UNB Fredericton , myUNB

A University of New Brunswick graduate has received the International Dublin Literary Award, the world’s largest literary prize awarded to a single novel.

Emily Ruskovich, a UNB master of arts (’09) graduate, won the award for her debut novel, Idaho. The prize is worth €100,000 and has previously been awarded to such notable writers as Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Ms. Ruskovich’s novel was selected from a list of 141 books, which were nominated by libraries in 115 cities from 41 countries. Idaho was nominated by a public library branch in Bruges, Belgium.

Idaho, published in 2017 by Random House, tells the haunting and mysterious story of a young couple, Jenny and Wade, who purchase a piece of wooded land in the Northern Idaho mountains. As the years pass, the couple has two children, May and June. Winters in the mountains are isolated, lonely and less than ideal. Then something happens that changes their lives forever.

Ms. Ruskovich’s short stories have appeared in various publications, including Zoetrope, One Story and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She is also the winner of the 2015 O. Henry Prize and a master of fine arts graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. She currently teaches creative writing in the master of fine arts programme at Boise State University.

“As a graduate student in creative writing at UNB, I felt like I was part of a very encouraging literary community,” said Ms. Ruskovich. “What impressed me most was the close attention my work received from my professors who consistently met with me one-on-one to give thorough and honest critiques of my writing. It was an experience I don’t think I will have again to quite the same degree. The personal relationships I developed there were inspiring and meaningful.”

“Emily’s outstanding talent was evident to all of us who worked with her at UNB, and she was a joy to supervise,” said Dr. John Ball, professor and chair of the English department at the UNB Fredericton and Emily’s MA supervisor.

“Her fiction is mesmerizing, unsettling, and darkly resonant; she has an exceptional ability to generate atmosphere and intensity through her portrayal of austere landscapes and vulnerable people,” Dr. Ball said. “I am thrilled that her wonderful first novel has received this prestigious international award.”

Media contact: Angie Deveau

Photo credit: Conor McCabe