In 2012 I returned to South Africa, for the first time since I was a child, in order to research my collection of short stories. Focusing on the large Jewish South African population of Thornhill, Ontario, where I grew up, the twelve short stories that comprise All the Shining People are about how a community deals with migration, diaspora, and the legacies of white supremacy and British colonialism.
The first story in the collection, “At the Bottom of the Garden,” was shortlisted for the 2012 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. The judges, Alexander MacLeod, Johanna Skibsrud, and Madeleine Thien, said:
"'At the Bottom of the Garden' is a risky, strange, and mesmerizing story, taking the reader through a door that seems familiar, but that opens on to a world whose dimensions and meanings have been turned inside-out, magnified, and understood anew. Through prose that is both rich in detail and complex in meaning, Kathy Friedman shuttles us into the heart of an old South Africa where a child learns to recognize darkness in the most ordinary of places."
In 2013 "The Burn" was runner-up for The New Quarterly's Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award. The judges said:
"'The Burn' is a moving story of a couple that emigrated from South Africa and return to attend a family funeral. Thoughtful and well-written, this is a portrayal of all the complexities that can mar a family: adultery, sexual frustration, secrets, racism, and sexual disorientation. A whole life is told in a short story, with characters that are vivid and plausible. A complex story, both morally and emotionally, and if there's contrivance, you don't feel it."
"Bad Things" was runner-up in PRISM international's 2014 short fiction contest, which was judged by Joseph Boyden, who wrote:
"I was blown away by the beauty of the language . . . that never once got in the way of the story."
All the Shining People
"Prose that is both rich in detail and complex in meaning . . ."
"A whole life is told . . . with characters that are vivid and plausible."
"I was blown away by the beauty of the language."