The Boat People has won the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction! (Yes, THAT Harper Lee). I’m so grateful to Doubleday for putting the book forward and to the jurors who obviously have a very refined literary palate. Also: the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal who administer and sponsor the prize. These things are a lot of work and labours of love.
Late next month, I’ll be accepting the award at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. (I KNOW. IT’S WILD) In addition to a speech, there will be an on-stage conversation between myself and the jurors. We’ll be talking about To Kill a Mockingbird and my book and probably politics and refugees.
Refugee law, and in particular, the perfectly legal and legitimate process of coming to the border and seeking asylum, is a situation that is woefully misunderstood by the general public. It doesn't help that so many Canadian politicians - many of them lawyers by training - willfully and purposely lie. Fiction can be the antidote, translating the letter of the law into a compelling plot and using imagined characters to show readers the truth. The truth is so important. This is a federal election year and now more than ever we all have a duty to tell the truth. Loudly. And as often as possible. Awards give me and my book a soap box and a megaphone. For these gifts, I’m incredibly grateful.