We are positively thrilled to announce that Susan Dodd, author of The Ocean Ranger, has won the Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing. The awards were given out last night to a packed house, and we’d like to send our congratulations to all the other winners as well.
For those of you who weren’t there — especially the folks from our office in Winnipeg — here’s a transcript of Susan’s acceptance speech:
Unlike other award winners, I did bring notes, just in case, because as a professor, I am trained to talk for two hours and I needed to bracket myself off.
The Ocean Ranger story is very much a Newfoundland story. My brother Jim was killed on the rig. He was a Nova Scotian and my family is Nova Scotian. One of my chief anxieties in writing this book was that it needed to make sense to Newfoundlanders. So far it has been well received there and I am deeply grateful for that.
Writing this book was at times excruciating. Everyone I know helped me in some way or another in the past four years while I was half… well… completely crazy at various times writing this.
I’m happy with my acknowledgements as published in the book, so I’m not going to go into those now. I’d ask you to please read those. You will see just how much support it took to produce this book.
This strange little book is profoundly interdisciplinary. It starts with a memoir about our hearing the news that Jim’s rig was “in trouble” and it makes the very crucial point that this disaster was caused by a political failure, not a technological one. One of my central aims was to show that the technical chain of events was possible only in the context of a complete lack of regulation. In 1982, there was no regulation in the offshore petroleum industry, and that was a political failure. That Preface is in some ways the best part of the book. The book turns to political journalism and then gets more and more theoretical with each chapter. The structure of this book very much expresses who I am.
Thank you to Marquis Imprimeur for this prize. I am delighted that we have this new Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly writing. It is an honour to self-consciously join your community of writers and readers. This is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the relationship between academic writing and our community.
This award is also excellent because we now have this way to honour the scholarly publishers of the region and the chance they give us to tell our own stories. This ability to tell our own stories is incredibly powerful; there’s a great power here.
I’d like to give a special thanks to Errol Sharpe of Fernwood Publishing. At one point, I was dithering over whether to include that weird chapter of philosophical history of Blood Money. Errol said: “Just tell this story in the way that only you can tell it.” That is what I tried to do.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge my mother, who is here. This has been a very emotional journey for us and I’d just like to say: Thanks, Mom.