Author Discovers $150,000 Literary Prize in Her Junk Email Folder


While your email junk folder usually serves to filter out all-caps enticements and bogus promises, you might want to take just a moment to skim the messages before deleting them forever. The Guardian reports that 73-year-old Australian author Helen Garner was reviewing junked email from a stranger when she learned that she had been chosen as the winner of a literary prize worth $150,000.

The email Garner received alerted her to “good news” and asked for her phone number, two things that she was certain were red flags. She told The Sydney Morning Herald that she checked with her publisher and then spoke to the director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, who confirmed that she was being recognized for her writing. “I nearly keeled over,” Garner told the Herald. “I'm staggered. I feel thrilled and validated.” An active writer in various genres and formats for the past four decades, Garner said that she was proud to learn that the prize was for her nonfiction work.

In a statement, Garner said: "To be awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction validates in the most marvellously generous way the formal struggles that I’ve been engaged in over the past twenty years. It gives me the heart to keep going."

Established in 2013, the Windham-Campbell Prize is a fairly new award, with nine international authors chosen each year by nomination from a panel of anonymous judges who are either appointed by Windham or selected by the president of Yale University. There is no submission process, so Garner had no way of knowing that she was even on a shortlist, let alone that there was a check with her name on it somewhere. It’s fair to assume that other attempts would have been made to tell Garner the “good news,” but her email habits still serve as a lesson to us all.

[h/t Mashable]

Paris is Selling Its Love Locks, and Donating the Proceeds to Refugee Organizations

Paris officials have turned an urban problem into a public service: They’re selling the city’s “love locks” as souvenirs and donating the proceeds to refugee groups. The Guardian first reported the news back in December, and now—beginning on Saturday, May 13—the locks will be auctioned off online.

For traveling couples, the padlocks they affixed to the iron grills of the French city’s bridges, initials scrawled on the surface, were a symbol of romance. But to Parisian officials, they were a civil danger. Fearing that the locks would weaken overpasses like the Pont des Arts, the city began dismantling the metal trinkets in 2015.

Left with 1 million padlocks (which totaled 65 metric tons of scrap metal), authorities needed a creative way to repurpose the waste. So they decided to sell 10 metric tons of locks to members of the public, marketing them as relics of the city’s bygone history.

“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price,” Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris, said in a statement quoted by The Guardian in 2016. “All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris.”

The locks will be sold in a variety of lots, some of them just as a single souvenir, others in groups. Smaller lots are expected to sell for anywhere from $100 to $200, while pieces of the padlocked railings could go for as much as $5000 to $9000 apiece. Proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, Emmaus Solidarity, and Solipam.

99-Year-Old Woman Checks "Spending Time in Jail" Off Her Bucket List

When a senior looks back on his or her life to assess their triumphs and regrets, “not getting arrested” typically falls into the former category. But according to the BBC, a 99-year-old woman in the Netherlands wished she had spent time in the slammer. To help her achieve this unconventional bucket list dream, law officers let the woman, named Annie, hang out in a jail cell—with handcuffs on—at the police station in the eastern Dutch town of Nijmegen-Zuid.

Annie has her family to thank for the experience. "Her niece came to us with this request," a police officer told the BBC. "When she was reporting a crime, she told the police officer about Annie's 'bucket list.'"

"You get many unusual requests with this profession," he added. "We thought it would be nice to do something special for Annie."

Politie Nijmegen-Zuid/Facebook

As you can see in the photos above, Annie’s brush with the law was a blast. However, she isn’t the only senior who has wondered what life is like behind bars. Last year, a 102-year-old woman named Edie Simms from St. Louis, Missouri was faux-arrested per her own bucket list request. Police teamed up with a local senior center to make Simms’s dream come true. "She was so excited that she can ride in a police car and she said, 'Do you think you could put those handcuffs on me?'" Michael Howard, executive director of Five Star Senior Center, told KPLR. Talk about centenarians gone wild!

[h/t BBC]


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