2022 Ryga Award shortlist
March 21st, 2022
The shortlist for the 2022 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, in alphabetical order, is:
* Francis, Daniel. Becoming Vancouver: A History. (Harbour Publishing)
* Fraser, Greg N. William McKay: a Métis Business Leader in Colonial British Columbia. (Heritage House)
* Gough, Barry. Possessing Meares Island: A Historian’s Journey into the Past of Clayoquot Sound. (Harbour Publishing)
* Harris, Michael. All We Want: Building the Life We Cannot Buy. (DoubleDay Canada)
* Hunt, Dallas. Creeland. (Nightwood)
* McLeod, Darrel J. Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity.(Douglas & McIntyre)
* Morton, Alexandra. Not on My Watch: How a Renegade Whale Biologist Took on Governments and Industry to Save Wild Salmon. (Random House)
* Simard, Suzanne. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest. (Penguin/Random House)
* Spaner, David. Solidarity: Canada’s Unknown Revolution of 1983. (Ronsdale Press)
* Wilson-Raybould, Jody. Indian in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power. (Harper Collins)
The George Ryga Award is an annual literary prize for a B.C. writer who has achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year. The award comes with a $2,500 prize and publicity in BCBookLook and BC BookWorld.
The 2022 winner will be announced on March 31.
Judges for the Ryga Award are author & poet Trevor Carolan, retired VPL librarian Jane Curry and BC BookWorld publisher Beverly Cramp.
The award is sponsored by Yosef Wosk.
In 2003, Vancouver writer Maggie de Vries won the first Ryga Award for her memoir Missing Sarah (Penguin Canada) about her sister who went missing on the Downtown Eastside. In 2004, The Greenpeace to Amchitka: An Environmental Odyssey (Arsenal Pulp Press) by the late Robert Hunter was selected and the award was presented to Robert Hunter’s widow during a Greenpeace crew reunion. In 2005, the winning book was In Plain Sight: Reflections On Life In Downtown Eastside Vancouver (Talonbooks), edited by Leslie Robertson and Dara Culhane.
Information about subsequent winning titles (and other B.C. awards) is available at this link: https://bcbookawards.ca/
George Ryga (above right) is considered one of British Columbia’s greatest playwrights.
“More than any other writer,” said theatre director John Juliani, “George Ryga was responsible for first bringing the contemporary age to the Canadian stage.”
Ryga was, as playwright Charles Tidler once put it, “Canadian theatre’s eloquent plea for the defence.”
The turning point for Ryga — and for Canadian drama — was his lyric documentary play about a young Indigenous woman named Rita Joe who comes to the city only to die on Skid Row. Commissioned as a work for Canada’s Centennial celebrations, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe has been critically noted as one of the most moving plays that Canada has ever produced.
With its circular structure and Brechtian use of a singer outside of the action, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, for Ryga, was more than a reflection of a local case of racial prejudice. It was his attempt to express his universal disdain and intolerance for injustice. “This issue is the burning issue of our time,” he said. “It is what the Congo, Bolivia, Vietnam are about. People who are forgotten are not forgetting. To overlook them is a dangerous delusion.”
The play first starred Frances Hyland as Rita Joe; Chief Dan George as her father; Ann Mortifee as the singer; Robert Clothier as the priest; and August Schellenberg as Jaimie Paul. It was directed by George Bloomfield. It premiered on November 23, 1967 at the Vancouver Playhouse.
George Ryga died on November 18, 1987, in Summerland, B.C.