Sisters win same literary award
Both write of childhood experiences in Hungary

by John Goddard

March 28, 1998; Page E8

TORONTO -- Two sisters writing of their childhood experiences in post-Holocaust Hungary are individually gaining a national audience.

Elaine Kalman Naves of Montreal is the winner of this year's $10,000 Canadian Literary Award for non-fiction, co-sponsors CBC Radio and Saturday Night magazine announced Friday.

Her sister, Judith Kalman of Mississauga, Ont., won the same prize three years ago.

"We are very close and our lives in many ways are very intertwined," said Ms. Naves, who also writes a regular book column for the Montreal Gazette.

"I guess what we both don't want is to be viewed as a generic Kalman. We are not a sister act."

The short-story winner is Shauna Singh Baldwin, born in Montreal, raised in India and now living in the United States. The poetry winner is Roberta Rees, who grew up in the Crowsnest Pass of the Rocky Mountains and teaches creative writing for women at the University of Calgary.

Ms. Naves won for her memoir, Hair, scheduled to appear in the May issue of Saturday Night and to be broadcast April 15 on CBC Radio One.

The piece is a reflection of her childhood in Budapest. Last year, she published a full-length nonfiction saga of her Hungarian family, Journey to Vaja.

Ms. Kalman, her sister, won previously for The County of Birches, now the title of a series of linked fictionalized stories published earlier this month by Douglas & McIntyre.

Two years ago, both sisters mined their childhood memories for a special issue on Jewish Canadian writing in the literary quarterly, Prairie Fire.

Ms. Baldwin's winning short story, Satya, is set in Rawalpindi, India, and features a 42-year-old woman who has never been able to conceive.

It will be published in June and aired April 13.

The winning poem, Hoar Frost, in which the narrator struggles to find beauty in language within a violent world, appears in the current Saturday Night and is to be aired April 14.

The CBC broadcasts are part of Richardson's Roundup, daily at 2 p.m.