Keller gets Woodcock Award

She wrote 17 books, edited dozens more, mentored numerous writers and founded the ongoing Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt. Now, Betty Keller (left) is honoured for outstanding literary career. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Angie Abdou. Photo Marty Hafke.

A is for Abdou
When Angie Abdou challenged her daughter, Katie to accompany her hiking a peak a week over the summer holidays one year, Angie learned some valuable lessons – most importantly that she loves hiking but Katie doesn’t. Abdou writes about the experiences in This One Wild Life: A Mother-Daughter Wilderness Memoir (ECW $21.95) due out this April. 9781770416000

B is for Boraks-Nemetz
As a child survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto during WW2, Lillian Boraks-Nemetz has lived with the memories of the Holocaust all her life. She writes of the suffering, loss and destruction in her new collection of poems, Out of the Dark (Ronsdale $17.95), in which she also covers moving towards a better life and pays tribute to other artists and poets. 978-1-55380-632-5

Nicola I. Campbell

C is for Campbell
Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell takes young readers on a journey of discovery through the wilderness in Stand Like a Cedar (Portage & Main $19.95), due out in February. Campbell tells the names of animals in the Nłe7kepmxcin or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Illustrated by Carrielynn Victor. In 2009, Campbell won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for Shin-chi’s Canoe (Groundwood, 2008). 978-1-55379-921-4

Junie Désil

D is for Désil
Junie Désil is of Haitian ancestry, born of immigrant parents in Montreal and raised in Winnipeg. Her debut book of poetry, eat salt | gaze at the ocean (Talon $17.95) explores the themes of Black sovereignty, Haitian sovereignty and Black lives using the original Haitian zombie as a metaphor for the treatment of Black bodies. Désil has performed at various literary events and festivals and her work has appeared in Room Magazine, PRISM International, The Capilano Review, and CV2. She is a UBC alumnus and a participant in Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio. 9781772012651

E is for Edugyan
As the author of The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novelist Esi Edugyan of Victoria has been curating a blog post for articles by Black women writers who include Afua Hirsch, El Jones, Namwali Serpell, Roxane Gay and Nikole Hannah-Jones. For information on twenty-five black authors of British Columbia, visit abcbookworld.

Mary Fox

F is for Fox
One of B.C.’s senior potters, Mary Fox has written: My Life as a Potter: Stories and Techniques (Harbour $44.95), part memoir, part coming-of-age story and part handbook for ceramicists. Having reached the peak of her craft, Fox’s work has been shown in galleries across Canada and internationally. In this book, Fox shares her plans to leave behind a legacy of support and mentorship for young artists in the form of an artist-in-residence program. 978-1550179385

G is for Gerson
SFU prof, Carole Gerson has co-authored with Peggy Lynn Kelly, Hearing More Voices: English-Canadian Women in Print and on the Air, 1914 – 1960 (Tecumseh $24), which analyzes the working lives and professional output of female Canadian broadcasters, authors of radio plays, novelists, humourists, historians, journalists and poets who produced much of the middlebrow and modernist culture of the period. The book shows how many of these female writers survived under challenging economic conditions and adapted to changing cultural times.978-1-896133-71-3

Klisala Harrison

H is for Harrison
To advocate for musical work in the Downtown Eastside, and elsewhere in the world, as a means to promote human rights and development of the poor, Klisala Harrison has written Music Downtown Eastside: Human Rights & Capability Development Through Music in Urban Poverty (Oxford Univ. Press $29.95). A former graduate of U of Vic’s Music History program in 1997, Harrison now holds a PhD and has held positions at Columbia University and UBC. She is currently a Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki, Finland. 978-0-19-753507-3

I is for Isitt
Victoria-based Benjamin Isitt has co-authored with Ravi Malhotra Able to Lead: Disablement, Radicalism, and the Political Life of E.T. Kingsley (UBC $89.95) due out in May 2021. New York-born double amputee Kingsley brought his radical socialism across the border when he founded the Socialist Party of Canada and was considered “one of the most dangerous men in Canada” as he went on to shape a generation of Canadian leftists during a time when it was rare for disabled men to lead. 978-0-7748-6576-0

Jocelyn Shipley. Photo Michael Galan

J is for Jocelyn
In her 11th title (including two craft cookbooks), Stranded (Orca Soundings $10.95) Jocelyn Shipley writes about Kipp whose life keeps falling off the rails since the accidental death of his girlfriend. Trying to get clean from drug addiction and homelessness he takes an offer of a job and place to live from a woman he meets at a shelter. But then strange things start to happen and he questions whether this new lucky break is, instead a nightmare. Photo by Michael Galan. 978-1-4598238-9-1

K is for Al Kontar
Hassan Al Kontar was a young Syrian working in the UAE in 2011 when civil war broke out in his home country. As a conscientious objector, he refused to return for compulsory military service. Without a valid passport, he lived homeless for years. Then, Al Kontar tried to re-establish himself in Malaysia where he believed he could get legal status. Instead, after flying to Malaysia, he was unable to enter the country or obtain a visa for any other country. Trapped in the arrival zone at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for over six months, Al Kontar turned to social media to tell his story to the world. His courageous messages, told with humour, made him an international celebrity. Eventually, Al Kontar was offered refuge in Canada in 2018, settling in Vancouver via Whistler. His memoir Man at the Airport: How Social Media Saved My Life — One Syrian’s Story (Tidewater Press $23.95), due in June, tells of his harrowing journey. 978-1-7770101-8-8

Jen Sookfong Lee

L is for Sookfong Lee
Having written many books, Jen SookFong Lee will release her debut collection of poems in April, The Shadow List (Wolsak & Wynn $18) in which she creates a narrator describing what it’s like to live as a woman of colour and a caregiver. With few societal opportunities, the narrator’s voice is is still filled with desire in Lee’s verses. The narrator also questions the politics of who gets to choose and who doesn’t. She makes hidden lists of what she really wants. 978-1-989496-28-2

M is for McLean
Years after retiring from his 35-year newspaper reporting career, Bruce McLean published his debut novel The Mañana Treehouse (Thistledown $20) about an aging couple coming to terms with Alzheimer’s disease. It is inspired by McLean’s memory of his late wife who spent the last seven years of her life with Alzheimer’s. The novel’s final lines are poignant: “Yesterday has vanished and any thoughts of tomorrow are out of the question. It’s today and we’re getting somewhere with it.” 9781771872058

Meichi Ng

N is for Ng
Meichi Ng is the creator of Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense, a comic she started in 2015 that attracts 130,000 followers on Instagram. Ng has now released a collection of short stories of the same name, in the graphic novel Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense (Harper Collins $35) about exes, murder, friendship, therapy, anxiety, Hufflepuff, sucking at things, freaking out about things, calming down momentarily, melodrama, wrinkles, pettiness and other topics. 9780062945594

O is for Olajide
A member of the Saga Collectif, Thomas Antony Olajide co-wrote the play Black Boys (Playwrights Canada $18.95) about the complex dynamics of the queer black male experience. His co-writers include two other black men, a black woman and a white man. The play examines three very different black men seeking to understand themselves in a society that both vilifies and sexualizes the black male body. Each role does a deep dive into the interplay between gender, sexuality and race. Olajide is a Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated Toronto-based actor from Vancouver. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. The Saga Collectif was founded in 2012 to bring under-represented bodies and voices to the stage in a way that is honest, risky and new.
978-0-3691-1004-7-4

Benjamin Perrin

P is for Perrin
UBC law professor, Benjamin Perrin takes a penetrating look at opioid drug addiction in Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis (Viking $32). He interviews those working on the frontlines such as undercover police officers, healthcare professionals and drug users. His findings challenge many assumptions about the crisis. 978-0-7352-3787-2

Q is for Quarmby
SFU professor, activist and Green Party candidate Lynne Quarmby writes about her time aboard a schooner of artists on a trip to the Arctic, mixing memoir, microbiology, grief for the loss of a frozen world and the sublimity of the northern landscape in Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear (McGill-Queen’s UP, $24.95). Bob McDonald, host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks and Elizabeth May, former leader of the Green Party of Canada both give testimonials for the book.  978-0-2280-0359-5

Scot Ritchie

R is for Ritchie
Author and illustrator, Scot Ritchie’s new kidlit picture book Lilliana and the Frogs (Harbour $22.95) is about a young frog-lover who decides to capture chorus frogs for her bedroom but encounters a few challenges. Based on Ritchie’s memories of exploring Camosun Bog as a child, his new title inspires young readers to explore nature but leave it outside. 9781550179347

S is for Sager
West Kootenays writer Kathy Sager has collaborated with Cortes Island illustrator Kristen Scholfield-Sweet for Mother Reindeer’s Journey to the Sun – A Tribute to Mountain Caribou (Maa $12), a winter solstice book that promotes awareness of B.C.’s mountain caribou. It’s the story of Mother Reindeer on her annual journey to bring warmth and light back to the north. 9781777306106

Michael Tregebov

T is for Tregebov
Michael Tregebov’s Winnipeg-based novels continue with The Renter (New Star $18), the story of a young Jewish man in the late 1960s who is hoping to marry up. During an era when it was both common and even socially acceptable to deal in soft drugs, Bret Yeatman, our Duddy-Kravitz-of-Manitoba protagonist, is seeking romance and social redemption for his family at Winnipeg Beach, formerly the “cottage country” preserve of the province’s WASP elite. The target for both his ambitions and affections is the delectable Sandra Sugarman — but our man-on-the-make will have to renounce his easy, promiscuous life in the drug trade. Tregebov earned his MFA in Creative Writing from UBC also studied at SFU before moving to Spain in 1982, where he works as a translator. 9781554201631

U is for Umingmak
Umingmak is the Inuit word for muskox and a symbol of strength, authority and protectiveness. It was also the nickname the Inuit gave Stuart Hodgson, the first resident commissioner of the Northwest Territories who arrived in 1967. Commissioners and their council were appointed then and Ottawa gave Hodgson the mandate to establish a modern, self-elected government in NWT with Yellowknife as its capital. Hodgson succeeded and did so, as Indigenous leader, James Wah-Shee, chair of the Tlicho National assembly says, through recognizing the importance of governing by consensus, which is “the Aboriginal way – and this is part of his legacy.” The story is told by Jake Ootes in, Umingmak: Stuart Hodgson and the Birth of the Modern Arctic (Tidewater $29.95), due out in May. The book also tells how Hodgson co-founded the Arctic Winter Games, organized three royal visits to the NWT, and united the entire population of about 26,000 people in fifty isolated communities spread over 3,400,000 square kilometers.  9781777010102

V is for Vickers
“Let me begin with a warning” heads one of Janet Vickers’ new poems in Sleep With Me: Lullaby for an Anxious Planet (Ekstasis $23.95) because not all these verses are lullabies. They have been described as poetry like a cold shower and a warm towel all rolled into one; but that ultimately assert we can act against the forces for destruction. Vickers lives on Gabriola Island and this is her fifth poetry collection. 978-1771713603

Wendy Winter

W is for Winter
Squamish-based Wendy Winter has written her debut children’s book, Where’s My Joey? (Self-published $7.78), with illustrations by Roxana Antochi. It’s the story of a mother Kangaroo who cannot find her Joey and begins a search. The book also explores other Australian animals and links them to Canadian wildlife. Wendy Winter’s inspiration to write this story came while teaching in Perth, Australia in 2007. It is planned as the first in a series of books.

X is for Xwalacktun
Xwalacktun (born Rick Harry) was born and raised in Squamish. His mother is originally from Squamish and Alert Bay (Coast Salish, Kwakiutl) while his father was Coast Salish (Squamish). Xwalacktun was given his indigenous name by his father, Pekultn, who was a hereditary chief, originally from the Seymour Creek area of North Vancouver. He increased his skills and education as an artist at Emily Carr College of Art and Capilano College but feels he also learned a lot through trial and error. The North Vancouver Arts Council contracted Xwa-lack-tun [alternate spelling] to do a print of a historic site for the new Millennium. In 2001 he was invited to Scotland to promote the country’s totem pole project and he returned in 2002, 2003 and 2005 to travel Scotland and demonstrate carving techniques. Xwa-lack-tun worked on designs for the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympic Bid. He has also created and carved the yellow cedar, double doors for BC Hydro’s main buildings in Vancouver and Burnaby. Harrison Hot Springs Resort also commissioned him to create its set of doors placed at the entrance of its spa. He has created a 41.5-foot, red cedar pole for a gallery in New Hampshire, USA. Perhaps most auspiciously, in 2014-2015, he was commissioned by the Audain Museum in Whistler to create the waterjet cut, aluminum house post for its main entranceway entitled He-yay meymuy (Big Flood). No, he doesn’t have a book yet. It’s only a matter of time.

Henry Yu

Y if for Yu
UBC history professor, Henry Yu, who is also the Principal of St. John’s College at UBC has compiled the coffee table book Journeys of Hope: Challenging Discrimination & Building on Vancouver Chinatown’s Legacies (UBC Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies $50). The book tells the story of Vancouver’s early Chinese immigrants and their fight for justice against the City of Vancouver, which historically supported, and legislated for, white supremacy. Yu also outlines steps for reconciliation. 9780993659317

Tanya Zaufi

Z is for Zaufi
It seemed like a television movie when Kelowna’s Tanya Zaufi took a job on a cruise ship touring the Caribbean and met the love of her life, the ship’s pastry chef. A romance ensued with the Austrian chef but at the end of the cruise, the two lovers left for their respective countries. In her debut memoir, All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date With Destiny (self-published, unpriced) Zaufi describes their struggle to get back together. 978-1-7773799-0-2

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