The speech that stole the show at this year's Atlantic Book Awards | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
The 2023 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award winner K. R. Byggdin.

The speech that stole the show at this year's Atlantic Book Awards

"Now more than ever we need more stories of queer and trans joy" says winner K. R. Byggdin.

Get ready for your to-be-read pile to grow even taller: Last night, June 7, saw the annual Atlantic Book Awards Gala take over Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall, getting lit(erary) as it celebrated some of the top tomes of the last year. Halifax author K. R. Byggdin was the evening’s star, taking home the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award for their debut novel, Wonder World (a queer, cross-country coming-of-age story with questions about the meaning of home).

“Now more than ever we need more stories of queer and trans joy in the face of ignorance and oppression that seeks to erase us from history and the present moment,” Byggdin said in their acceptance speech, after thanking their fellow nominees, the award judges and more. “We will not be silent and we will never disappear. For those in the audience who do not identify as 2 spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans queer: We need you too. We need you to be loud and firm in denouncing the division and oppression that’s on the rise.”

They stopped for a moment to allow the crowd’s thunderous applause to pass before adding: “When I think about the future of Atlantic fiction, I am so excited to witness the daring and dazzling words that are yet to flow from the minds, hearts, pens and keyboards of 2SLGBTQ+ writers who call this part of Turtle Island home.”

Other winners at last night’s awards include Nanci Lee’s Hsin, which won the J. M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award; The Solidarity Encounter: Women, Activism and Creating Non-Colonizing Relations, a book by Carol Lynne D’Arcangelis, snagged the Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing; Elaine McCluskey’s Rafael Has Pretty Eyes was named the Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction winner and this year’s APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book was Wabanaki Modern / Wabanaki Kiskukewey / Wabanaki Moderne by Emma Hassencahl-Perley & John Leroux. Nicola Davison won the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literarure for Decoding Dot Grey.

Catch Byggdin’s full acceptance speech below:

Morgan Mullin

Morgan was the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she wrote about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She started with The Coast in 2016.
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