Sister Mariella Gable Series

2013 Winner

On Sal Mal Lane

Ru Freeman

Ru FreemanBorn in Sri Lanka, Ru Freeman found inspiration for her work in her family and country's pasts. Her political writing focuses on international humanitarian assistance and workers' rights, while her creative writing has been featured in Guernica and World Literature Today.  Freeman published her first novel, A Disobedient Girl, in 2009; it was long-listed for the DCS Prize for South Asian Literature and translated into several languages.  Her newest book, On Sal Mal Lane, uses her characteristic sensory detail, language, and humor to describe the plight of a Sri Lankan community in the five years before the country's civil war. 


Freeman was in residence October 21-25 and read on Wednesday, October 23 for the Centennial Celebration of Sister Mariella Gable.

About the Award

Sister Mariella Gable's spirit inspires the College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute serving the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (LAI) and all of its programs. Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer, champion of new fiction, the late Sister Mariella Gable was an outstanding English professor who taught at the College of Saint Benedict from 1928-1973. In the Spring of 1984, she produced an essay on the first fifty years of CSB history, "In League with the Future". She guided many students into lives informed by literature and played an important role in the early careers of such writers as Flannery O'Connor, Betty Wahl, and J.F. Powers. An essay about Sister Mariella and her writings was written by Sister Nancy Hynes for the introduction to Mariella's book, The Literature of Spiritual Values and Catholic Fiction.

The Sister Mariella Gable Award is given each year by the College of Saint Benedict for an important work of literature published by Graywolf Press. Graywolf Press, described by Ploughshares magazine as, "arguably the best small press in the country," and LAI have formed an innovative collaboration to explore new ways of promoting the literary arts on campus, to audiences in the surrounding area, and in the Twin Cities. The 2013 winner of the Sister Mariella Gable Prize is On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman.  Past winners include The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism by Deborah Baker, One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina, The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song by Ellen Bryant Voigt, All of it Singing by Linda Gregg, Duende by Tracy K. Smith, the trilogy, Variation on the Theme of an African Dictatorship by Nurruddin Farah, The Collected Poems of Jane Kenyon by Jane Kenyon, The Weatherman by Clint McCown, One Vacant Chairby Joe Coomer, The House on Eccles Road by Judith Kitchen, and Loverboy by Victoria Redel, which was made into a movie by Kevin Bacon in 2005.