Playwright and actor Daniel Karasik won the grand prize in CBC’s short story competition last week.
“I found it very hard to process,” Karasik said of his win. “I was very excited and also kind of overwhelmed.”
His award-winning story is called Mine, and Karasik describes it as exploring the themes of love, fidelity and devotion.
He started writing the story when he was in Israel, travelling and studying at an egalitarian yeshiva. He had just finished a semi-autobiographical story, and he wanted to try writing from a different perspective.
“I was interested in imagining my way into the minds and hearts of this older couple,” he said. “What does it mean to be faithful to somebody and to be devoted to somebody?”
The couple in the story are Jewish, as are many of the characters in his stories. He said it’s easier for him to write from within his own world.
“If you’re going so far afield that you have to fill in all those sociological details with research or guesswork, I think you’re less able to focus on the emotional and dramatic heart or core of the story you’re writing,” he said.
Though he began writing the story in Israel, he finished it in Paris, while visiting a friend he had met in Israel. In Paris, he said he found himself able to decompress and just write.
“At the risk of sounding heavily pretentious, I think the work I did in Paris, I remain quite happy with a lot of it,” he said, adding that he thinks it’s not so much that the city inspired him but rather his frame of mind while he was there.
Karasik, 25, who’s from Thornhill, Ont., has won several awards. Most recently, he was the winner of the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition for his play Haunted.
The CBC prize comes with a $6,000 award and a two-week residency at the Banff Centre’s Leighton Artists’ Colony in Alberta.
He said he’s not quite sure what he’ll write in Banff.
“It’s possible I’ll write a bunch of poems… or it could just be I’ll have the opportunity to continue in a slightly more focused manner on what I’m working on otherwise,” he said.
Right now, he’s working on a poetry collection that’s slated for release next spring. He’s also in the middle of writing a novel, which he said couldn’t be more different from the themes he explored in Mine.
“It’s an exuberant, funny comic novel about young people in Toronto, and ambition and sex,” he said.
One of Karasik’s plays, The Innocents, is opening in Toronto at the Tarragon Theatre Studio on April 26. The story is about a young wunderkind Jewish lawyer from Thornhill and his quarter-life crisis. The Innocents was presented in New York and is currently being produced in Mainz, Germany. The Toronto run, until May 13, will feature a new version of the story.
For more information about The Innocents, visit www.tangoco.net. To read Mine, go to the CBC website or http://bit.ly/zGQqvL.