Immigrant story shortlisted for Rubery

A man leaves his family in Japan to work in Canada, only to be confined in a WW2 internment camp. What happens next is the subject of a shortlisted novel by Kunio Yamagishi (left). FULL STORY

Who’s Who

Jordan Abel

A is for Abel
Both of Jordan Abel’s grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack. As an inter-generational survivor of residential school, he has written and assembled Nishga (M&S $32.95) to examine how colonial violence from the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted his grandparents’ generation, as well as father’s generation, and ultimately his own. It’s his first book from a large Ontario publisher after award-winning titles from Talonbooks. The spelling of Nisga’a as Nishga is not a typo. Available in May. 978-0-7710-0790-3

B is for Blaser
Miriam Nichols has provided a study of Robin Blaser’s life—recalling his mid-western conservative religious upbringing and his coming of age as a gay man in Berkeley, Boston, and San Francisco—with critical assessments of his major poems for A Literary Biography of Robin Blaser: Mechanic of Splendor (Palgrave Macmillan $39.99 U.S.), touted as the first major study illustrating Robin Blaser’s significance to North American poetry. A fixture at the English department of Simon Fraser University for twenty years, Blaser (1925–2009) drew upon his participation in the Berkeley Renaissance of the 1950s and San Francisco poetry circles of the 1960s during which he rubbed shoulders with the likes Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Charles Olson and Stan Persky. Due to connections with Ellen and Warren Tallman, Blaser was attracted to the poetry scene of Vancouver and accepted a teaching position at Simon Fraser University in 1966 when that university was only one year old. He became a Canadian citizen in 1972 and remained teaching English until his retirement in 1986. 978-3-030-18327-1

Aidan Cassie

C is for Cassie
Winner of the 2019 Victoria Children’s Book Prize for her debut picture book, Sterling, Best Dog Ever (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $23.50) Aidan Cassie studied animation and earned a media arts degree at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design as well as Edinburgh College of Art. “Winning the Victoria Children’s Book Prize was a fantastic shock,” she says. “I’m so lucky the jurors connected with Sterling’s story; I love thinking that as an ‘award-winner’ it may be placed in more libraries where more kids can meet this over-anxious wiener-dog comically struggling with self-acceptance.” Cassie is also the author-illustrator of Little Juniper Makes It Big (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019) and The Word for Friend (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), to be released in 2020. She lives on a small island in the Salish Sea with her tiny family and giant dog. 978-0374306144

D is for Dickinson
Set in London during the IRA crisis in 1974, Don Dickinson’s Rag & Bone Man (Coteau $24.95) follows the misadventures of an unemployed Canadian hockey player named Rob Hendershot who is led into intrigue by his 83-year-old roommate. As a somewhat naive Canadian who went to England to play pro hockey, Hendershot is perplexed by the volatile politics of the era as he looks for love in some of the wrong places–and in an art studio. To make ends almost meet, he works as an artist’s model, posing as a modern day Beowulf for the mesmerizing artist, Margaret Lowenstein, with whom he is smitten. A long-time resident of Lillooet, where he taught English, Don Dickinson lived in London during the time period described. His first work of fiction was published in 1982. 9781550502749

Ann Eriksson

E is for Eriksson
Eight-year-old Gabi accidentally drops food one day that a crow swoops down and eats. A few days later, Gabi drops more food and again a crow eats it. Crows begin waiting around the girl’s house watching for her, which encourages Gabi to start regularly leaving food out on purpose. Eventually, Gabi convinces her mother to put up a bird feeder filled with peanuts. To Gabi’s surprise, the crows begin leaving little gifts for her, such as buttons, rocks, beach glass, and – her favourite – a pearl-coloured heart trinket. This is one of the true stories in author and biologist Ann Eriksson’s upcoming, Bird’s Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight (Orca Wild $24.95), which will be published in May 2020. The book looks at wild birds around the world, threats to their survival and what young people can do to conserve their populations. Using scientific information, pictures, and profiles of young birders and what they are doing, Bird’s Eye View encourages young people to protect birds and their habitats. 978-1-45981737-1

Margery Fee

F is for Fee
Although natural historians began writing about the polar bear as early as the mid-eighteenth century, it wasn’t until 1971 that it’s official Latin name, Ursus Maritimus (sea bear) was fixed. It’s one of the many tidbits of information in UBC Emerita Professor of English, Margery Fee’s new book, Polar Bear (Univ. of Chicago $19.99). She merges natural and cultural history about this iconic animal, the largest land-dwelling carnivore on Earth. Polar bears symbolize climate change; sell soda pop; feature in children’s books and on merry-go-rounds; decorate buildings; and once were prized by hunters and zoos. Fee’s last book was Literary Land Claims: The “Indian Land Question” from Pontiac’s War to Attawapiskat (Wilfrid Laurier University, 2015). 978-1-78914-146-7

G is Gardiner
We get two lives. The second one starts when you realize you only get one. Elee Kraljii Gardiner has edited Against Death: 35 essays on living (Anvil 2019) to explore and recount near-death experiences or, as she puts it, “near-deathness.” The collection is an attempt to avoid “the usual platitudes, feel-good bromides, and pep talks associated with near-death encounters.” Against Death follows her second book of poems, Trauma Head (Anvil $18), a memoir of unwellness that recalls her mini-stroke in 2012 that caused her to lose feeling in her left side, leading to a discovery that there was a tear in the lining of an artery. Elee Kraljii Gardiner is the founder and creative mentor of Thursdays Writing Collective, a non-profit organization of Downtown Eastside writers, and editor and publisher of eight of its anthologies. Death 978-1-77214-127-6; Trauma 978-1-77214-122-1

H is for Hansen
Thirty-nine weeks and six days pregnant, Emma Hansen’s baby stops moving inside of her. Doctors confirm her baby is dead due to a true knot in his umbilical cord. For medical reasons, she must deliver him. Only nine days later, deeply grieving, Hansen turns to writing an essay that she posts on her website with photos from the delivery room. It goes viral. Messages flood in from people with similar experiences. Still grieving, Hansen is driven to better understand stillbirth. Out of this mixture of emotional turmoil and effort to learn about what she, along with two and a half million women annually, undergo with a stillbirth, Hansen writes her first book, Still: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Motherhood (Greystone $24.95) to find a way to live with the loss. The book is scheduled to be on book shelves in April 2020. In addition to writing, Emma Hansen is also a trained doula. Her father is Rick Hansen, the disability activist and a former Paralympian.
978-1-77164-391-7

Taslim Burkowicz

I is for Indo-Canadian
Taslim Burkowicz’s second novel, The Desirable Sister (Roseway $22) sheds light on the importance of skin colour in the Indo-Canadian community and the competition between women that can result. Teenager Serena feels ostracized due to her dark skin, whereas her lighter-skinned sister Gia is openly welcomed and celebrated everywhere by love interests, peers and even family members. Burkowicz’s story about “the bitter games of treachery women are forced to play” takes place in the partying culture of Goa, in Vancouver and during an African safari. Burkowicz grew up in a Gujarati family in the Lower Mainland and lives with her family in Surrey. 978-1-7736-3232-2

J is for Jordan
Once women had the vote and were given property rights, ushered in by first-wave feminism, a new struggle began for broader equality in areas such as sexuality, family life, the workplace and other areas. Branching Out, Canada’s first national magazine serving this second-wave  feminism, which operated from the early 1960s to the 1980s, started surprisingly on the prairies although it was read widely from coast to coast. Vancouver researcher and educator, Tessa Jordan has written a history of this influential magazine, Feminist Acts: Branching Out Magazine and the Making of Canadian Feminism (Univ. of Alberta $34.99) with a foreword by CBC Radio’s Eleanor Wachtel. Branching Out is an Edmonton-based story of political activism and feminist communities. It ceased publication in 1980 but not before becoming the most popular feminist magazine in the country. Jordan’s work focuses on Canadian feminist histories as well as the private sector’s role in the fight for social justice and ecological sustainability.
978-1-77212-484-2

Gary Karlsen

K is for Karlsen
Fresh out of high school in 1965, Vancouver’s Gary Karlsen was expected to go to university. He had other ideas. Growing up in Vancouver’s West End, he had frequently gazed at the deep-sea freighters in English Bay and wondered, “What would it be like to be on one? Where did they come from? Where were they going?” he writes in No Ordinary Seaman: A Memoir (Self-published, $22.95). With a little ‘truth-stretching’ he managed to sweet talk his way on board the M/S Havkatt in September 1965 to work as a deckhand. The journey took the 17 year-old to Tokyo, back to Vancouver for a few days, then off again through the Panama Canal to New York City where he disembarked the following December. Shortly after, Karlsen took a passenger ship to Norway, his father’s ancestral home. But by August 1966, he had signed a six-month contract to work aboard a new tanker, M/T Polycastle. His book, “compresses a lot of LIFE – more than 38,000 nautical miles of it, into little over a year,” says Roger Elmes, a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Navy in the book’s foreword. Eventually, Karlsen returned to Vancouver, got a couple of university degrees and remained a landlubber. As for the Havkatt and Polycastle, both continued as working ships, although sold off several times and renamed until being too old to be profitable. Then, they were sold to scrapyards to be broken up. “Kind of sad,” writes Karlsen. “These ships took us safely between ports, and they thrummed with human energy, my own included. I was fortunate to have sailed on them.”  978-1-7752669-0-7

Jack Lohman

L is for Lohman
CEO Jack Lohman’s third book under his Victoria museum’s imprint, Great Expectations: Reflections on Museums and Canada (RBCM $14.95) shares his belief that museums must become reflect and promote “big-picture ideas” to contribute to societal progress regarding issues such as Indigenization, globabization, migration and loss of biodiversity. Lohman cites the successes and failures of the Royal B.C. Museum and proposes Canada could become a safe haven for cultural artifacts “imperilled” around the world. 9780772673039

M is for Maracle
Sto:Lo author and poet, Lee Maracle is among nine finalists for the US$50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The prize is significant because a large number of the winners go on to be nominated or win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Maracle earned the nomination for her novel Celia’s Song (Cormorant 2014). The Neustadt is awarded every other year to a work of poetry, fiction or drama that has significantly contributed to world literature. Sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and its magazine World Literature Today, the award has been nicknamed the “American Nobel” because more than 30 laureates, finalists and jurors have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The winner of the 2020 Neustadt Prize will be announced at a reception in Norman, Okla., on Oct. 16, 2019. 978-1770864511

N is for Natelle
When journalism graduate Natelle Fitzgerald of tiny Beaton, B.C. (formerly Thomson’s Landing, at the head of Upper Arrow Lake) isn’t operating a summer mountaineering camp with her husband, she’s launching a new career as a novelist with Viaticum (Now or Never $19.95). Having overcome a divorce and a fundamentalist upbringing, cancer survivor Annika expects some clear sailing—only to cross paths with a debt-ridden realtor, Matt, who leads her into a web of deception and desire. In fiction, invariably there are more snakes than ladders. Originally from Halifax, Fitzgerald holds a journalism degree from the University of King’s College and a Bachelor of Science degree from Mount Allison University. 978-1-988098-87-6

Thomas Antony Olajide

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

Keith Powell

P is for Powell
There’s a well-known story in Cranbrook about elephants escaping from a circus in 1926, and fleeing into the nearby woods. Eventually rounded up and put back to work, one of the elephants continues to inspire news stories for years afterwards and the episode enters town folklore for generations. Not so for the one-armed hockey goalie from nearby Kimberly, Jimmie Peever, who helped his team win the Coy Cup in the same year, beating the Vancouver Seaforths in a symbol of provincial supremacy. Peever was also an elite baseball player, another sport that usually requires use of both arms. Yet, somehow these feats have disappeared into the mist of time as all records of Peever end in 1928. Now Cranbrook author, Keith Powell remedies this oversight with his new historical novel, In the Shadow of Elephants: The Life and Times of Jimmie Peever, one armed goalie and baseball player and a herd of unruly elephants (Wild Horse Creek Press $21.95). Mixing fact and fiction, Powell lets his central character reveal historical events in the Kootenays, from the super-secretive P-9 heavy-water project in Trail to the Japanese internment camps of the Slocan Valley. In the Shadows of Elephants is Keith Powell’s fourth historical novel. 9780981214641

Linda Quennec

Q is for Quennec
A widow at the age of 32, Kate leaves her backward hometown on Vancouver Island and moves to an even smaller island hoping to find solace. Here, she meets another woman, Ivy who regales Kate with wild stories of Cuba in 1926. Another woman, Kate’s mother Nora provides backstory on mid-twentieth century island living. These are the main characters of Linda Quennec’s new novel Fishing for Birds (Inanna $22.95) that navigates island life from the tropical South to the temperate Northwest Coast, across time and through the very different experiences of three women. Throughout, the novel examines the expectations people cling to, and the unexpected things that show up and impact their lives. Quennec describes herself as an island dweller at heart. She is a PhD student in Depth Psychology with a MFA in creative writing from Naropa University, and is a graduate of The Writers’ Studio at SFU and the Humber School of Writing. Her work has been published in Quills Canadian Poetry, 3Elements Review, Cirque, and Emerge. She lives in Vancouver. 978-1-77133-613-0

Robin and Jilian Ridington

R is for Ridington
Robin Ridington began working with the Beaver Indians, or Dane-zaa, in 1964; his wife Jillian began working with the Dane-zaa in 1978. As a UBC-based anthropologist, Robin Ridington studied storytelling techniques of the Dane-zaa in the subarctic Peace River area of northern British Columbia for Trail to Heaven: Knowledge and Narrative in a Northern Native Community (1988), which won the Hubert Evans B.C. Non-Fiction Prize in 1989. The Victoria couple also co-authored Where Happiness Dwells: A History of the Dane-zaa First Nations (2019) with Elders of the Dane-zaa First Nations. For decades they chiefly resided on Galiano Island. Robin Ridington began writing sonnets as a student at Swarthmore College in the 1960s. “Some people do crosswords,” he says. “I write sonnets.” In 2008, he self-published his first collection of sonnets, The Poets Don’t Write Sonnets Anymore (Plume of Cockatoo Press) followed by Spaghetti Must be Ambidextrous: Sonnets 2008-2019 (Plume of Cockatoo Press $15.95). 9780981066615

Roberta Staley

S is for Staley
Roberta Staley wrote Voice of Rebellion: How Mozhdah Jamalzadah brought hope to Afghanistan (Greystone $32.95) about the Afghani-Canadian pop singer and champion of women’s rights. Despite many threats to her life, Mozhdah Jamalzadah remains a female voice against repression for her generation in Afghanistan. Voice of Rebellion tells her story, including arriving in Canada as a child refugee, setting her father’s protest poem to music (and making it a #1 hit), performing that song for Michelle and Barack Obama, and, finally, being invited to host her own show in Afghanistan. The Mozhdah Show earned her the nickname “The Oprah of Afghanistan” and tackled taboo subjects like divorce and domestic violence for the first time in Afghanistan’s history. Roberta Staley is a magazine editor, writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her award-winning documentary, Mightier Than the Sword, reveals how Afghan women in media are working to overcome a culture of silence and invisibility. 978-1-77164-413-6-9

Hiram Cody Tegart

T is for Tegart
With retired journalist Andrew Bruce Richards, Hiram Cody Tegart wrote his memoirs about being a hunting guide in B.C.’s Columbia Valley in Mountain Man: the Life of a Guide Outfitter (Caitlin $24.95). Born into a ranching family in 1950, Tegart got his first gun when he was ten. Tegart’s father also worked as a guide outfitter to earn much-needed cash for the family and young Cody quickly learned the skills to help him. He later bought the hunting business from his father and built it into one of the most prosperous in the province, earning a reputation as one of the best in the business. By 1984, Tegart had a success rate of 85 percent in elk hunts and 100 percent with mountain goat hunts. Andrew Richards interviewed other hunters, guides and friends for Tegart’s book. Cody Tegart died in 2018 but not before his stories of a disappearing way of life were published.
978-1-773860-06-0

U is for Ut’akhgit
Smithers arose from a swamp beneath a mountain. Initially the non-indigenous residents of the town in northwestern B.C. largely excluded the surrounding Witsuwit’en population. As a third-generation native of Smithers, who now works as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University, Tyler McCreary has orchestrated interviews with more than fifty Witsuwit’en and non-indigenous families for Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en – Settler Relations in Smithers BC 1913 – 1973 (Creekstone $24.95). To celebrate this publication, the community of Witset (formerly Moricetown) and the Liksilyu clan organized a 34 km. Walk to Witset and a feast hosting more than 400 guests (over 50% non-Indigenous). Ut’akhgit Henry Alfred, the last living Witsuwit’en plaintiff in the Delgamuukw – Gisdaywa court case, hosted the feast, attending in spite of illness, and died soon after. “This book is part of a process to acknowledge the historic contributions of Witsuwit’en people to building the town,l” says McCreary, “and the forms of discrimination that they endured.” 978-1-928195-04-7

V is for Vaira
The Federation of BC Writers has announced Ursula Vaira is the new editor of their magazine WordWorks distributed to more than 700 writers around B.C. After working for Oolichan Books in the 1990s, Vaira founded Leaf Press in 2000. She has written several chapbooks as well as And See What Happens: The Journey Poems (Caitlin 2011), containing an account of her thirty-day, 1000-mile paddle from Hazelton to Victoria in a First Nations canoe to raise awareness of addictions on the coast and to raise money to build a healing centre open to all people.

Peter Ward

W is for Ward
In the Western world, we bathe and change clothes often. At least, far more often than our ancestors did according to UBC professor emeritus of history, Peter Ward in The Clean Body: A Modern History (McGill-Queen’s $37.95). He has extensively researched personal hygiene and found that in the age of France’s King Louis XIV, bathing was rare and hygiene mainly a matter of wearing clean underclothes. By the late 1900s, the norm was to bathe daily and freshly laundered clothing the general practice. How did this transformation take place? Ward is the author of several books on the social history of Canada and the history of population health. 978-0-7735-5938-7

X is for Xesdu’wäxw
Born in 1931 in the Kitlope, Cecil Paul, also known by his Xenaksiala name, Wa’xaid, is one of the last fluent speakers of his people’s language. At age ten he was placed in a residential school run by the United Church of Canada at Port Alberni where he was abused. After three decades of prolonged alcohol abuse, he returned to the Kitlope where his healing journey began. He has worked tirelessly to protect the Kitlope, described as the largest intact temperate rainforest watershed in the world. In his late 80s, he resides on his ancestors’ traditional territory. He is the co-author of Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa’xaid (Rocky Mountain Books $30) as told to Briony Penn, who is also releasing her own 400-page book, A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac (Touchwood $26). “My name is Wa’xaid,” he says, “given to me by my people. ‘Wa’ is ‘the river’, ‘Xaid’ is ‘good’ – good river. Sometimes the river is not good. I am a Xenaksiala, I am from the Killer Whale Clan. I would like to walk with you in Xenaksiala lands. Where I will take you is the place of my birth. They call it the Kitlope. It is called Xesdu’wäxw (Huschduwaschdu) for ‘blue, milky, glacial water’. Our destination is what I would like to talk about, and a boat—I call it my magic canoe. It is a magical canoe because there is room for everyone who wants to come into it to paddle together. The currents against it are very strong but I believe we can reach that destination and this is the reason for our survival.” Front page photo by Callum Gunn. Colour above, by Greg Shea.

Rande Cook and Linda Rogers

Y if for Yo! Wik’sas?
Yo! Wik’sas? Hello! How Are You?: An Illustrated Conversation with the Invisible Girl Siri (Exile 2019) is a collaborative kids’ book in English and Kwak’wala based on the paintings of Kwakwaka’wakw artist Chief Rande Cook. It takes the form of a conversation between Siri (an enigmatic creator) and Rande’s two real-life kids, Isla and Ethan, who wonder about friendship, the future of the planet and what besides coffee motivates Dads. Cook’s work is in a natural environment, not in front of a computer screen. When Linda Rogers suggested a book, he replied, “Good, go right ahead.” So, Rogers proceeded to produce the book under Cook’s supervision. The story is followed by some guidance for conversations to be led by teachers or parents. There is also a short glossary to introduce a few Kwak’wala words, the most important of which is Gilakas’la, thank you! 978-1-5509-682-8-6

R.E. Donald

Y is for Yellowhead Blues
R.E. Donald has released a fifth book, Yellowhead Blues (Proud Horse, 2019) in her murder mystery series set on the highways of North America. The story opens with former RCMP investigator Hunter Rayne on the road in his eighteen-wheeler when he’s flagged down to help calm a horse with a bloodied saddle and no rider. The RCMP arrest a man for the murder of the horse’s owner but Hunter believes they’ve got the wrong man and sets out to uncover who stood to gain from the death of the wealthy ranch owner. Rayne’s beliefs are shared by a rookie female RCMP constable who joins him in the search for the truth. She befriends the dead man’s young fiance in an effort to get answers, and discovers that the vulnerable Texas beauty is not who the victim believed her to be. R.E. Donald was introduced to mystery fiction while reading books at her Uncle John’s family cabin on Shuswap Lake, “everything from Agatha Christie to Dick Francis to John D. MacDonald,” she says. “I started writing a novel when I was twelve, then wrote numerous business and horse-related articles over the years, but didn’t get serious about writing fiction until 1994. At that time, I was very active on the Compuserve Mystery Forum, attended Surrey Writers’ Conferences and Bouchercons, joined Crime Writers of Canada (we used to meet at Bunny Wright’s house) and Sisters in Crime.” Donald’s Proud Horse imprint is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association. 978-0-9940-7625-0

Zazie Todd

Z is for Zazie
Founder of the blog, Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about training methods and the human-dog relationship, Zazie Todd has written Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy (Greystone $26.95). Combining the latest canine research with recommendations from leading veterinarians, researchers and trainers, Todd demystifies the inner lives of dogs and provides advice for cultivating a rewarding relationship with your pet. For example, not many know that seemingly noiseless electronics may be upsetting their dog. And if you really want to give your pooch a gift that it will appreciate, one of the best things is let your dog sniff the breeze. Zazie Todd is a social psychologist, certified dog trainer and author. She writes a regular column for Psychology Today magazine and won the Captain Haggerty Award for ‘Best Training Article’ in 2017. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology (University of Nottingham) and an MFA Creative Writing (UBC).
978-1-77164-379-5

  • About Us

    BC BookLook is an independent website dedicated to continuously promoting the literary culture of British Columbia.
Facebook
Twitter