Alumna Tammy Armstrong wins 2022 Prize for Best New Fiction

HarperCollinsPublishersLtd, the UBC School of Creative Writing, and CookeMcDermid Literary Management are thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2022 Prize for Best New Fiction is Tammy Armstrong for her adult novel Ursula.

 “All of us at the UBC School of Creative Writing are so proud of Tammy’s success, and can’t wait to hold the published book in our hands,” says Director Annabel Lyon.

The winning author, chosen by CookeMcDermid and the editorial team of HarperCollinsCanada, gains representation by CookeMcDermid and a standard contract to publish from HarperCollins, with a negotiated advance. HarperCollinsCanada has secured World Rights to Ursula and will publish in Spring 2024. The prize contributes to the publishing landscape significantly with past winners such as Ellen Keith’s #1 bestselling The Dutch Wife, which was an international bestseller with rights sold in six countries, and Michelle Good, author of the iconic Five Little Indians, who went on to win the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, CBC Canada Reads, the KOBO Emerging Writer Prize, and has sold close to 200,000 copies in Canada alone.

“The jury was enthralled by Tammy’s winning novel. The narrative is sown with rural New Brunswick folklore and superstition, and there is a whimsical rendering of the remote setting that creates a magical atmosphere to this enchanted adventure story. A wholly unique and heartwarming novel by a talented writer,” says Janice Zawerbny, Executive Editor at HarperCollinsCanada.

Ursula is a historical novel set in a New Brunswick logging camp in the 1920s. Ursula is a young girl growing up in the camp with her family and her “brother” Bruno, a bear who has been raised by her family and is accepted in the close-knit community of lumberjacks. When their malicious camp supervisor is found dead in a ditch, Bruno is blamed and then kidnapped and sold to an animal trader, leaving Ursula no choice but to embark on a hazardous solo journey through the forest to rescue him.

 “Everyone at our agency loves Ursula—the novel and the character—and we are head-over-heels in love with her ‘brother’ bear, Bruno. We are excited to see the great things that will come from Tammy and her team at HarperCollins, CookeMcDermid, and UBC,” says Rachel Letofsky, Literary Agent for CookeMcDermid Literary Agency.

Armstrong said of the win, “It is an honour to receive the HarperCollins/UBC Fiction Prize. I started writing Ursula in 2015, never imagining where my book might go. I am so very grateful to the jury for enjoying it and HarperCollins for giving it a home.”

About Tammy Armstrong

Tammy Armstrong is a former Fulbright scholar and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Literature and Critical Animal Studies from the University of New Brunswick. Armstrong’s writing has appeared in literary journals in Canada, the United States, and Europe. She has published two novels: Pye-Dogs and Translations: Aistreann, which won the David Adams Richards Prize, was longlisted for the Chapters/Robertson Davies Prize, and was included as one of the best adult books for teenage readers by the libraries at the University of Alberta and the University of Wisconsin. She has also written five books of poetry, including Bogman’s Music which was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives in southern Nova Scotia.

About the Prize

Now in its tenth year, the Prize for Best New Fiction is awarded bi-annually. The next opportunity will be in 2024 and is open to currently enrolled students and previous graduates of the UBC School of Creative Writing. Past winners include:

  • The Island of Forgetting by Jasmine Sealy
  • Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
  • The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith
  • The Ghost Keeper by Natalie Morrill
  • The Good Sister by Chelsea Bolan
  • Book of Sands by Karim Alrawi