A womb without a view until the ’50s

In From Right to Left: Maternalism and Women’s Political Activism in Postwar Canada, Brian Thorn profiles women in the 1940s and ’50s who were active at all points along the political spectrum. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

A is for Armstrong
A cat might have nine lives; but John Armstrong has had nine dogs–and counting. John Armstrong’s third memoir, A Series of Dogs (New Star $21), recalls the first nine canines to adopt him as a friend, regarding each animal as a fully realized character. It’s described as “the sort of book that will make your dog whimper and lick your face to make sure you’re okay because you’re doubled over on the floor laughing so hard.” The former bandleader of The Modernettes recalls his first dog, Ruff, followed by a cocker spaniel named Kiltie, Spooky, Chopper, Rip, a $5,000 Rottweiler named Mugsy, Sluggo, Bobo and Seamus. Several cats make cameo appearances. 9781554201181

Sage Birchwater. Chris Harris photo.

B is for Birchwater
For Sage Birchwater’s forthcoming Chilcotin Chronicles (Caitlin 2017), the veteran reporter and former back-to-the-lander says “The people and stories of the Chilcotin are linked together like the mycelial threads of a mushroom colony.” The individuals who inhabited the sparsely-populated broad landscape, stretching 450 km from the Fraser River to the Central Coast, were seemingly all larger than life. Stories of their whereabouts and happenings were kept alive by the great oral tradition of this place, told around campfires and kitchen tables. “Some of these tales were true,” Birchwater says, “and some were blatantly fictitious; and through it all runs a deep sense of place.” His collected stories from the leeward side of the Coast Mountains include characters such as Eagle Lake Henry, Bullshit Valleau, Pete McCormick, James Lee Holt, Trapper Annie Nicholson, Benny Franklin, Nancy Swanson, RC Cotton, George Turner (rumoured to be a member of the notorious Dalton Gang) and his wife Louisa One-Eye.

Vic Cavalli

C is for Cavalli
Born in Vancouver in 1953, Vic Cavalli has been teaching English at the university level since 1987, and Creative Writing at the university level since 2001. His fiction, poetry, photography, and visual art have been published in literary journals in Canada, the United States, England, and Australia. While teaching at Trinity Western University in the Fraser Valley he will publish a novel, The Road to Vermilion Lake (NY: Harvard Square Editions, 2017), concerned with exploring the themes of generation and regeneration. After fronting some high school bands, Cavalli worked for seven years at manual labor jobs (such as operating machines and driving forklifts in factories, building steel fishing boats, and logging—setting chokers and falling trees). Eventually, an educated friend advised him to enroll in first-year College, adding, “Read some Russian novels.” $22.95 U.S. 978-1-941861-40-0

D is for Dalton
The author of 14 books and past president of the Canadian Authors Association, Anthony Dalton has published an historical novel that ranges from 17th century England across the Atlantic Ocean to the sub-Arctic, over the wilderness forests of eastern Canada and part of old France, and back to England. Narrator Thomas Woodhouse is a young mathematician and sailor. Leaving behind his family and a lady friend, he joins Captain Henry Hudson’s arctic expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The crew mutinies and the captain, along with a few others including Woodhouse are cast off. Thomas is the only one to survive and he lives for the next two decades with a native tribe on the shores of James Bay. He later returns to England to find out what happened to the mutineers. A writer and photographer for more than 20 years, Dalton was previously a professional expedition leader and adventure guide. Between 1969 and 1980 he organized and led long-range expeditions in the Sahara (including a television documentary for CBC-TV), West Africa and the deserts of the Middle East. He was the organizer and leader of a CBC-TV filming expedition to the Saharan salt mines of Taoudenit in northern Mali, and participated in a television documentary on great Canadian rivers for the Discovery Channel. He has made river expeditions with Bangladeshi naturalists in search of the Royal Bengal tiger and paddled wilderness rivers in northern Canada. He lives on a small island off the coast of B.C. 978-1-94201-812-4


Karen Enns

E is for Enns
In her third collection of poetry, Cloud Physics (University of Regina $19.95), Karen Enns focuses on endings – cultural, ecological, and personal. Endings may be viewed as tragic but throughout Enns peppers her lines with affirmations of love, music and language. The importance of being rooted in place and history is another favorite topic that she mines for inspiration. Enns is a former pianist and this collection is informed as much by music as her love of language. Her first book, That Other Beauty was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and her second, Ordinary Hours was shortlisted for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. 978-0-88977-461-2


Shelley Fralic

F is for Fralic
With a foreword by Douglas Coupland, Shelley Fralic and research librarian Kate Bird have combined their skills and knowledge for a second time to present 149 photos from the Vancouver Sun archives for Seventies: Photos from a Decade That Changed the City (Greystone $29.95), featuring representative images from the era as well as pivotal moments in the city’s history such as the Gastown Riot and the founding of Greenpeace. Personalities range from a five-year-old Justin Trudeau to the iconic Chief Dan George. 9781771642408

Rhonda Ganz

G is for Ganz
In her debut collection, Frequent, Small Loads of Laundry (Mother Tongue 2017), Rhonda Ganz describes how people behave in moments of intimacy and domesticity, often pairing the banal with the absurd “to expose the flaws of love—the frayed edges of belief and despair.” Born in Kenya, Ganz lives in Victoria where she works as a graphic designer and editor. She speaks German and can hold a conversation in Swahili. Her poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Rattle, Room, on city buses and in the anthologies Rocksalt, Poems from Planet Earth, Poet to Poet and Force Field: 77 Women Poets of BC. She has been known to write poems on the spot for people in hotel lobbies, parks and cemeteries. $19.95 9781896949604

H is for Hancox
Ralph Hancox’s third novel in two years, The Ape and the Peacock (Fictive Press $17.99), emanates from his social conscience. Set in the fictional Canadian province of Superior, his story spans a few days in November of 1957, following the paths of two miscreants and their differing fates. As the lives of several high-level government officials and a colourful cast of “destitutes” are forever altered, Hancox explores unequal consequences for the privileged and the dispossessed. After some 50 years in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Italy – – including 16 years as CEO, chairman and president of The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada) Ltd. – –  Hancox taught Topics in Publishing Management at SFU’s Master of Publishing program for almost ten years upon his retirement.1927663334


Thora Iling

I is for Illing
Former journalist and librarian, Thora Illing wrote a biography of Nellie Cashman (1845 – 1925), nicknamed ‘The Miner’s Angel’, Gold Rush Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Nellie Cashman (TouchWood $18.95). The unorthodox and rugged Cashman was a miner, entrepreneur and philanthropist who lived and worked in some of the toughest boomtowns in the West. She was up and down the coast, from California to Northern B.C., and north and south in the interior from Arizona to Alaska. In addition to staking claims, she set up restaurants, boarding houses and general stores. But she didn’t keep much of the money herself, instead giving away much of it to build hospitals and churches or help fellow miners down on their luck. One of her famous feats was to hike into northern B.C.’s Dease Lake under frigid winter conditions to get to the Cassiar mining area where miners were trapped without sufficient food and dying of scurvy. It took Nellie and six men she hired 77 days to get to the mining site, each on snowshoes pulling a laden sled because the snow was too soft and deep for dogs. They were just in time to save most of the miners. This story passed into legend and Nellie was frequently referred to thereafter as the ‘Angel of the Cassiar.’ Cashman remained tough into her later years and at the age of 77, she earned the title of champion musher of the North. She died in the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria from double pneumonia. The Victoria Daily Times wrote of Cashman, “Like many pioneer women who have known the meaning of hardship, she was of a most kindly disposition, nursing the sick and feeding the hungry and doing all she could to help the unfortunate and her death will be sincerely mourned by a wide circle.” Thora Illing immigrated to Canada as a young woman, fell in love with the space, fjords and forests of the West and stayed. She retired to Sidney. 978-1-77151-159-9

J is for Jones
Kari Jones’ forthcoming tale of West Coast surfing, alcohol abuse and teen angst, At the Edge of the World (Orca 2016) will be also about a deep friendship that becomes burdened by a secret. Maddie and Ivan are long-time friends but as Ivan’s life goes seriously awry, she has to make a decision as to whether or not she tells Ivan’s biggest secret in order to possibly save his life. By letting others know what is going on in Ivan’s family, she will be betraying his trust. 9781459810624

Deborah Knox

K is for Knox
Alligators and tigers can be white. Lobsters can be blue. One in twelve people have a rare disease. So what should we do? To raise awareness of rare diseases, “the underdogs of health care,” Deborah Katz, an artist and nursing professor with twenty years of experience in health care, has produced Rare is Everywhere (Miss Bird / Sandhill $19.95) in an attempt to educate children about nature and make them feel better if they have a rare disease or any anomaly that makes them feel different. The overriding message about her assortment of strange animals comes at the end: “So if you ever feel different, like a white spirit bear, you don’t have to worry because, Rare is EVERYWHERE!” Proceeds go to the Rare Disease Foundation, started in Vancouver in 2007. A rare disease is defined as a condition affecting fewer than one in 2,000 people. There are more than 7,000 known rare diseases. 978-0-9958261-0-6

Colin D. Levings

L is for Levings
Colin D. Levings’ encyclopedic treatment of how sea-going salmon, trout and char make their transition from fresh to salt water (and the other way) at the river mouth, Ecology of Salmonids in Estuaries Around the World: Adaptations, Habitats and Conservation (UBC Press $75) provides case histories dealing with BC estuaries and species while incorporating conservation issues. There is also an on-line appendix that provides a primer on salmonids and estuaries for the citizen scientist. Also the author of about 200 scientific papers, he increasingly spends time at Pender Harbour, teaching his five grandsons to fish. 978-0-7748-3173-4

Anita Miettunen

M is for Miettunen
Anita Miettunen was born in Vancouver to Finnish immigrant parents. She has lived, studied, and travelled in many places including Toronto, Ottawa, England, Finland, and Japan. After completeing two science degrees, she worked for several years in environmental regulatory science for the federal government. While completing her MA in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia, she published her first children’s book, Big Blue Forever (Red Deer Press, 2017), inspired by the true story of how a blue whale skeleton, buried for over twenty years in PEI, was shipped cross country and reassembled for permanent display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. This story is complemented with facts about blue whales, their environment and the process that museums undertake to uncover, prepare, and reassemble skeletons for display and study.

Emily Nilsen

N is for Nilsen
We get our balance from our ears. An otolith is a series of bones in the ear that enable us to be oriented within the context of physical space, our environs. In her debut book of poems, Otolith (Goose Lane $19.95), Emily Nilsen of Nelson examines the ache of nostalgia in the world’s passage of time. Publicity for the poems states: “These poems are full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.” Nilsen was born and raised in Vancouver. Her poems have appeared in PRISM International, Lake, and The Goose. She was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015, after having been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. 978-0-864929-62-4


Richard Osler

O is for Osler
A former money manager and financial journalist, Richard Osler turned to writing poems in 2001. His latest collection Hyaena Season (Quattro Books $18) grapples with the extremes of human experience: from dark undercurrents to tender epiphanies. Whether delving into life in the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, or staying closer to home in Canada and exploring stories of physical and emotional conflict, his focus is always deeply personal, his approach narrative with lyric intensity. Osler lives in Duncan where he is preoccupied on a full-time basis as a poet, workshop leader and blogger. While working as a freelance panelist, he appeared on the CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski more than 200 times over nine years.  978-1-988254-24-1 978-1-987915-20-4

Zoey Leigh Peterson

P is for Peterson
Zoey Leigh Peterson has published her first novel, Next Year, For Sure (Penguin Random House $22) about longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris who experiment with an open relationship, which leads them to reconsider everything they thought they knew about love. The story takes place over a year and is at times tumultuous, revelatory and funny. Previous to this, Peterson’s fiction appeared in literary magazines such as EVENT, Grain, PRISM international, and The Walrus. She has also been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She received the Far Horizons Award for Short Fiction (The Malahat Review) and the Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award (The New Quarterly). Peterson was born in England, grew up in various places in the United States, and eventually moved to Vancouver. 978-0-385-68677-8

Q is for Quartermain
Set in Vancouver, in 1972, U Girl (Talon $19.95) is a coming of age story about Frances Nelson as she arrives in big city for her first year of university, escaping her small-town life. Sexual experimentation, drugs, working at menial jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach and studying at the University of British Columbia during the “free love” era are all incorporated in her struggle to be taken seriously as a woman with a desire for gender equality. 978-1-77201-040-4

Fauzia Rafique

R is for Rafique
South Asian Canadian writer Fauzia Rafique–originally from Pakistan–writes fiction and poetry in English, Punjabi and Urdu. Endorsed by literary friends Susan Crean and Heidi Greco, her second novel, The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior (Libros Libertad $20), interprets and responds to various kinds of oppression that she has witnessed in Pakistan and Canada, in accordance with Simone de Beauvoir’s statement in The Second Sex: “All oppression creates a state of war. “The heroine of the story, Saheban, rebels against her family in overtly sexist Pakistan by refusing an arranged marriage. Embarking on a new life in Canada, Saheban encounters oppression in the guise of racism and economic disparity. Rafique’s first novel was Skeena (Libros Libertad 2011) and a chapbook appeared the same year for her English and Punjabi poems, Passion Fruit/Tahnget Phal (Uddari Books 2011). She is a co-founder and the coordinator of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation group that began to meet on a monthly basis in Surrey in 2011. [The spelling of SahebaN is correct.] 978-1-926763-44-6

Alisa Smith

S is for Smith
Alisa Smith’s forthcoming novel, Speakeasy (D&M $22.95) takes place during World War II and follows Lena Stillman, a former (undetected) outlaw in the Bill Bagley’s bank robbing gang during the Depression. She switches sides to work as an elite code-breaker at the Esquimalt naval base outside Victoria where she’s in a position to know the nation’s strategic military secrets. Her world turns topsy-turvy when her old underworld boss, Bagley, is sentenced to hang. The story is inspired by historical facts. There was an infamous bank robber in the 1930s named Bill Bagley but the character of Lena Stillman is fictional. Bagley did have a female accomplice, never named, who assisted on some of his heists. Smith had a great aunt who worked as a code-breaker on the west coast during World War II.  Alisa Smith’s much-publicized previous book, co-authored with partner James MacKinnon, The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating (Random House 2007), documented their year-long attempt to eat only foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. While working on a sequel to Speakeasy, Smith is pursuing a accreditation as a forensic accountant. 978-1-77162-066-6

T is for Trunkey
One of the benefits of book awards, beyond serving as a good excuse for writers and supportive book folks to break bread, is they can introduce emerging authors such as Laura Trunkey who first received a Social Work degree before veering towards her MFA in Creative Writing through UBC’s Optional Residency program.  After graduating with a degree in social work, she was employed at a shelter for homeless youth and worked with children who have special needs at Tillicum Elementary. A writing class from Lorna Jackson was a major catalyst along the way to becoming a freelance editor and an Artistic Associate of the Victoria Festival of Authors. She has written a children’s novel, The Incredibly Ordinary Danny Chandelier (Annick 2008) and had stories appear in Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow (D&M, 2010) and Pennies in My Pocket: Stories of My Brother (Brindle & Glass 2012). The appearance of her first short fiction collection, Double Dutch (House of Anansi $19.95) hasn’t made her a household name yet either. But now the Victoria resident, who grew up in the Fairfield neighborhood, has been shortlisted for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for Greater Victoria authors. Appropriately dubbed as weird and wonderful, Trunkey’s stories can delve into bizarre storylines: An elephant named Topsy is killed on Coney Island by Thomas Edison in 1903. Ronald Reagan’s body double falls in love with the first lady. A single mother believes her toddler is the reincarnation of a terrorist. A man grieves for his wife after a bear takes over her body. But other stories can be touching and realistic: A young deaf girl visits Niagara Falls before she goes blind.  9781770898776

U is for Uncharted
Jim McDowell’s book from Ronsdale Press about the first European to reach the area that has become greater Vancouver, Uncharted Waters: The Explorations of José Narváez (1768-1840), received a Silver Medal for Western Canadian history at the Independent Publisher Book Awards that honour the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. Another Ronsdale title, Live Souls: Citizens and Volunteers of Civil War Spain by Serge Alternes and Alec Wainman received a Bronze Medal for European regional history. The IPPY Independent Publisher awards were presented in Chicago before Book Expo America.

Vadym Graifer

V is for Vadym
After writing three books on stock market trading strategies, Vadym Graifer of Victoria decided to alter his diet and lose weight when he was diagnosed with diabetes at age 52. In The Time Machine Diet (RTS 2016) he describes his methodologies to reverse diabetes reversal with better food instead of medications in keeping with his TimeTravelDiet website.  Born in Ukraine in 1961, Vadym Graifer graduated as a construction engineer and rose to a head of a private design and construction company during hi8s country’s transformation after the USSR collapse. He immigrated to Canada in 1996 and lived for ten years in Manitoba before moving to B.C. In Winnipeg, Graifer turned to stock market trading and founded educational company RealityTrader, teaching private investors to manage their portfolio. He has been invited to numerous seminars across North America and the Caribbean as a featured speaker. Upon moving to Victoria, Graifer resumed his life-long hobby, taking photography on a semi-professional basis. His photos have been used by various tourism campaigns. 978-0973779677

Ray Wood

W is for Wood
In a tribute to the model of Land Rover known as “the Defender”, the production of which was discontinued in 2016, Ray Wood wrote Stalking Geraldine (MW Books $33.95. The novel follows freelance journalist Giles Jackson on the look-out for a Land Rover Defender nicknamed Geraldine and its owner Sarah Oakes, both disappeared on a trip through Africa. Giles makes it his mission to find them both. Ray Wood was born in the U.K. but spent his childhood in South Africa. He graduated from the University of Cape Town and once explored the spine of Africa on a Vespa Scooter. For many years, he taught mathematics and ran a wilderness expedition outfit. He lives in a heritage grocery store in West Vancouver when he is not sailing a 37-foot sloop or travelling corners of the world using an elderly Australian-built Land Rover. 9780995277809

X is for Xinjiang
As a sessional lecturer at UBC, Kim Trainor has released Karyotype (Brick $20), a poetry collection about a woman who lived four thousand years ago. Dubbed Loulan, her body has been preserved in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert—the largest desert in China, in the southwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The word karyotype, we are told, is “the characteristic chromosome complement of a species.” Trainor worked in a biomedical library and for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Previously her poetry won the Ralph Gustafson Prize from The Fiddlehead and the Long Poem Prize from The Malahat Review. 978-1-77131-379-7


Clea Young

Y is for Young
Having had three stories included in Journey Prize collections, Clea Young, another graduate of the UBC Creative Writing department, already had an agent prior to the publication of her first collection stories, Teardown (Freehand $19.95), described as an arresting collection about people “arguing about lamps in IKEA, drinking gin and tonics on a dock in summer, unemployed and without prospects.” Young is currently an Artistic Associate at the Vancouver Writers Festival–prospects unknown. We choose believe Billie Livingston when she writes, “Teardown captures a multitude of lives on the cusp of critical change. Young’s prose is nimble, her dialogue smart. This is a remarkable debut.” 978-988298-01-6

By Sarah Race, www.sarahrace.com

Zena Sharman

Z is for Zena
Editor Zena Sharman’s “moving and incendiary” LGBTQ anthology, The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care (Arsenal $18.95), presents true stories from queer and trans people about their health-care experiences and challenges. From gay men with HIV recalling systemic resistance and to a lesbian couple dealing with the experience of cancer, the stories and essays from health-care providers and activists explore and examine the challenges and politics of LGBTQ health issues in the shadow of the new post-truth Trump era. Contributors include Amber Dawn, Sinclair Sexsmith, Francisco Ibanez-Carrasco, Cooper Lee Bombardier, Kara Sievewright and Vivek Shraya. Zena Sharman co-chairs the board of the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre, a holistic health care centre for transgender and gender-diverse communities, located on Kingsway in Vancouver. With a Ph.D in interdisciplinary studies from UBC, previously Zena Sharman has co-edited the Lambda Literary award-nominated anthology, Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011), and she has been a cabaret host, a go-go dancer for a queer punk band and a campus radio DJ. 9781551526584 [photo by Sarah Race]

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