Award-winning magazine writer Carol Shaben wins $10,000 Edna Staebler Award for
Carol ShabenNT photo
Into the Abyss reconstructs a 1984 commuter plane crash in northern Alberta that killed six passengers and wounded four others—including Shaben’s father, a prominent cabinet minister.
“It’s a stylishly written, fast-paced tale of redemption that’s more gripping and engaging than you might expect,” said Ute Lischke, award juror and Laurier professor of English and Film Studies, in a Laurier release.
While the story is an expertly researched, detailed reconstruction of the crash and a call for better oversight of small, commuter airlines, its heart lies in the portraits Shaben draws of the crash’s survivors: her father, the pilot and an RCMP officer and the prisoner he was transporting. Through interviews and written documents, she paints a haunting portrait of the bond created among the survivors and how the crash affected their lives.Shaben lives in Vancouver and left business for full-time freelancing in 2005. In 2009, she was nominated for three National Magazine Awards and won a gold for investigative reporting for her article "Fly at Your Own Risk" in The Walrus and a silver for the same article in the politics and public interest category. She also received an honourable mention as best new writer. The article grew out of her research into the plane crash that eventually resulted in the award-winning book.
The Edna Staebler award was established 22 years ago and endowed by writer and journalist Edna Staebler (herself an award-winner) and is administered by Wilfrid Laurier University. It encourages and recognizes Canadian writers for a first or second work of creative non-fiction that incluees a Canadian locale and/or significance. Previous winners were Linden MacIntyre, Wayson Choy and Elizabeth Hay.