Skip to main content

Edna Staebler Award

Sonja Larsen’s Red Star Tattoo wins 2017 Edna Staebler Award

Author Sonja Larsen is the winner of the 2017 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction for her memoir Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary.

Red Star Tattoo tells the compelling story of Larsen’s unconventional and transient youth, as well as her experience in counterculture organizations, including her association with a clandestine wing of the Communist Party USA.

“In this coming-of-age story, Sonja Larsen looks back at a childhood and adolescence spent searching for a sense of connection and purpose beyond her family,” said Bruce Gillespie, an award juror and professor in Laurier’s digital media and journalism program.

In addition to Red Star Tattoo, the shortlist for the 2017 Edna Staebler Award included The Shoe Boy by Duncan McCue and The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra. Larsen’s win was celebrated during two public events at Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses in November.

Established and endowed in 1991 by writer and award-winning journalist Edna Staebler, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction is administered by Laurier, the only university in Canada to bestow a nationally recognized literary award. The $10,000 award recognizes Canadian writers for a first or second work of creative non-fiction that includes a Canadian locale or significance.

In related literary news, Pasha Malla, an accomplished and well-recognized author in several genres, was chosen as Laurier’s Edna Staebler Writer in Residence for the fall 2017 term. Malla’s work includes short stories, novels, poetry, personal essays and humour. He also pens a monthly books column in The Globe and Mail and frequently contributes to The Walrus, The New Yorker and CBC Radio.

During his time on Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3, Malla worked on two writing projects, visited classes, conducted workshops, offered literary readings and provided one-on-one mentoring to writers in the Laurier community.