Trent Press Release


February 20, 2002

Renowned Canadian Author Alistair MacLeod Next Year's Ashley Fellow at Trent

Award-winning author Alistair MacLeod has been selected as Trent University's Ashley Fellow for the year 2002-03.

A Canadian writer of international renown, Alistair MacLeod focuses on life in eastern Canada, particularly Cape Breton, in his work. His writing has received widespread literary acclaim and last year he was the first Canadian to win the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the largest monetary award for a single piece of fiction. The prize was awarded for his first novel No Great Mischief.

Also known and loved for his talent in crafting short stories, MacLeod draws on the Gaelic oral tradition of storytelling in his work. The landscapes and established occupations of Cape Breton life are fixtures in his tales, as are the themes of leaving home and returning home.

 Alister MacLeod

Alistair MacLeod

The Ashley Fellow is a visiting scholar who gives public lectures, resides on campus and participates in the academic and college life of the university. Those who wrote passionate submissions in favour of MacLeod's nomination remarked that, as one of the major sensations on the Canadian and international literary scene, he would greatly enrich the academic and creative experience of students at Trent.

MacLeod expressed his delight at the announcement and anticipates a wonderful experience at Trent University in the coming year. "I am very pleased and honoured to be recognized in such a way by Trent University," said MacLeod. "I feel very positive about Trent in general. I was a short term writer in residence and I have done readings there. I look forward to being at Trent and making whatever contributions I can." MacLeod particularly looks forward to interacting with students. "People of a certain age forget that we were young once," he said. "We have to think of 18 or 19 year old writers not as they are now, but as what they might become in future years."

"Any university English Department would be proud to have an author of Alistair MacLeod's stature as a visitor," commented Professor James Neufeld, Chair of Trent's English Department. "But here at Trent, we feel as though we are welcoming back an old friend. Alistair has paid frequent brief visits to Trent in the past, and his Ashley Fellowship will be something of a homecoming. We are excited that a new generation of students will have the chance to meet this extraordinary writer and special man."

Though retired from his position as Professor at the University of Windsor, Alistair MacLeod continues to be a part of the life of the university. He has received honorary degrees from University College of Cape Breton (1991) and St. Francis Xavier University (1987).
MacLeod's literary honours and awards are extensive. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood was nominated for the "Peoples Choice" Award as one of the best books published in the United Kingdom in 1991 and was selected as one of the "best new books in Scotland." Publishers Weekly (New York) chose it as one of the "Best Books of 1998." MacLeod was selected as the Canadian participant in the "Canada/Scotland Writers in Residence Exchange Program" for the year 1984-85. His short stories "In the Fall" and "The Boat" were both selected for the Roll of Honour by The Yearbook of the American Short Story in 1969 and 1973. "The Boat" and "The Closing Down of Summer" were selected for The Best American Short Stories in 1969 and 1975 respectively.

A film "The Lost Salt Gift of Blood" based on MacLeod's story of the same name opened at Filmhouse Theatre in Toronto in 1989. In 1983, a film based on "In The Fall" was released.

The Ashley Fellowship was established in 1976 with a bequest from the late C.A. Ashley, a professor, long-time friend of Trent and proponent of the value informal contacts can add to college and academic life at a university.

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Distribution: National


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