An Australian novelist and screenwriter, Helen Garner, discovered she won one of the biggest literary awards in the world when she accidentally opened her junk mail.
While Garner was browsing through her email, the Melbourne-based author clicked on a messeage from Yale University, and saw it asked for personal details such as her phone number.
Since the message was rather unexpected, Garner assumed that this “good news” was naturally a hoax as always and decided to ignore it. But she was stunned later when she learned it was no phishing scam.
The seemingly spam email was really awarding her the prominent U.S. Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, along with a handsome amount of $150,000. The reward was for her nonfiction piece, “The House of Grief.”
“I nearly keeled over,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m staggered. I feel thrilled and validated.”
The prize, established at Yale University, is among the most prestigious American literary awards. It would have been rather unfortunate if Garner didn't double check with her publisher or contact Yale.
“I’m just flabbergasted by it,” she said in another interview with the ABC radio show "RN Drive." “It’s not because it’s a lot of money, which it is, and it kinds of doubles my astonishment, but I didn’t know anybody read my stuff there.”
Admired for her fiction since her first novel, 1977's "Monkey Grip," Garner also writes articles and essays and in the past 20 years has published three nonfiction books that detail her intense observation of court cases.
This incident indeed teaches us a lesson to check all our email folders on a regular basis because you never know when you might win thousands of dollars by “accident.”