The three-member jury of writers Kathleen Winter, Colin McAdam and Helen Humphries hailed Hamilton's tale Smiley, which triumphed out of more than 3,200 submissions from across Canada.
"Original and alive, Smiley is the story of a Cape Town girl's identity crisis, her search for self within her family and nature. With precise language and evocative imagery, the story manages to convey many times the weight of its chosen words," the jury said in its citation.
Born in Ancaster, Ont. but now based in Vancouver, Hamilton previously won the CBC Short Story Prize in 2003 for her short story The Lost Boy. The author of seven books of fiction and poetry, she is also a photographer and visual artist. Her next book, the poetry collection Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes, is set for release this fall.
Along with receiving the $6,000 cash prize, Hamilton will receive a two-week writing residency at The Banff Centre and her story will be published in enRoute magazine's April edition.
The other English-language finalists for this year's edition, each of whom receives $1,000, are:
- Laura Legge (Toronto) for Tukisiviit?
- Trent Lewin (Waterloo, Ont.) for Saad Steps Out.
- Annie Reid (Vancouver) for Longshot.
The stories of all five English-language finalists can be read on the Canada Reads website. Montreal writer Sarah Desrosier was the corresponding French-language winner for her story Un entrefilet.
Sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts, the CBC Short Story Prize celebrates original, unpublished works of short fiction by Canadian writers.