Post-apocalyptic imagined future makes Regina student a top 10 finalist

Post-apocalyptic imagined future makes Regina student a top 10 finalist

In a post-apocalyptic future set 150 years in the future, the world order has been reset after nuclear war between America and Korea, and a young woman must disguise herself as a man, to make a covert vote for change.

So begins the first page of a novel, written by Regina student Zoya Anwar that was shortlisted by CBC Books' The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 category. More than 2,400 students submitted entries in the competition. 

"I had never entered a writing contest before, or challenge, and my teacher convinced me to enter it," Anwar told Saskatchewan Weekend host Shauna Powers. But the student at École Harbour Landing elementary school says the recognition of her talent came as a welcome surprise.

"I was definitely not expecting to get that."

CBC Books' The First Page student writing competition asked students to write the start of a story set 150 years into the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out.

For Anwar, who counts herself as interested in world politics, the tension between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seemed like a natural choice for a dystopian novel.

After Trump's election, she thought the businessman might have the experience and know-how to negotiate a peaceful co-existence with Kim.  

"It's not going the way I thought it would," she said.

This prompted her to think about how Trump would react if there was a threat of a nuclear missile launch, a future that she admits scares her.

In the first page of her story, titled Post-War Privation, Anwar imagines that war sends life back to a more regressive state, where women do not have the right to vote.

The story ends on a cliffhanger, her scrappy female protagonist discovered and "the barrel of a gun pressed tightly to her forehead."

She says she may finish the novel, when she's older and has learned more about writing.  

But the future, much like Trump and Kim's relationship, is always unknown, as Anwar says, "I think their relationship is much like a first page, because it could go anywhere."