A is for Anderson
The York Factory Express (Ronsdale $24.95) is Nancy Marguerite Anderson’s portrayal of the voyagers who, between 1826 and 1854, paddled their boats up the Columbia River a thousand miles east to Jasper’s House, 3,000 feet above sea level. Their job was to quickly move Hudson’s Bay Company departmental correspondence and personnel, not furs and supplies. From Jasper’s House, they carried on much further to York Factory on the shores of Hudson Bay. In total, it was a staggering climb and descent, which they did in reverse on the way back home to the mouth of the Columbia. The voyageurs were made up of unnamed Canadiens, Orkney-men, Iroquois, and their Métis children and grand-children. Their stories would be lost to time if not for the traders working at the forts who preserved the stories the voyageurs told them. Anderson has researched and uncovered these stories. 978-1-55380-578-6
B is for Bakan
A follow-up to The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, is Joel Bakan’s The New Corporation: How “Good” Corporations are Bad for Democracy (Allen Lane $19.95) about the call for a “new kind of capitalism” by business leaders. In the midst of soaring income inequality, stagnating wages and an escalating climate crisis, they realized the need to make social and environmental values. The problem is that corporations are still primarily concerned with their bottom lines. In reality, Bakan argues that increasing corporate freedom is encroaching on individual liberty and democracy. While he exposes the inhumanity and destructive force of the current order, and other problems, Bakan also describes a hopeful path forward. 978-0-7352-3884-8
C is for Chang
The Library of Legends (Harper Collins $18.99), is SFU Writer’s Studio graduate, Janie Chang’s third title. Set in 1937 China just as Japan begins bombing the city of Nanking, nineteen-year-old Hu Lian flees with fellow students and faculty on a thousand-mile walk to the safety of China’s western provinces. At stake is not only their lives, but a priceless five-hundred-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends. 978-0062851505
D is for Delany
Medievalist, political activist and retired professor emerita of SFU’s English department, Sheila Delany has published a collection of poems, Crowded Mirror (Durga 2019). The bawdiness of Chaucer echos in her work. In Piss-Poem she writes: Last night I dreamt I wanted to write poetry and / to piss. Same thing: extrusion, exposé — / but be sure to put it in / the right place. In another poem, Birthday eve, Delany declares: If there’s two things I know / how to do in the dark, / one of them is write. 9781771367660
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.
F is for Friesen
After publishing more than a dozen books of poetry, Victoria’s Patrick Friesen has released, Outlasting the Weather: Selected & New Poems (Anvil $20), which spans a quarter century of his work. In 2016, he was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize for his co-translation of the Danish book of poetry, Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments by Ulrikka Gernes.
G is for Good
A writer of Cree ancestry, B.C. author Michelle Good has written Five Little Indians (Harper $22.99), a novel about a group of residential school survivors released when they are barely out of childhood with no money or support, after years of detention. After finding their way to the seedy world of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, their paths cross and re-cross over decades as they help each other reinvent their lives. 9781443459181
H is for Haysom
Grandfathered: Dispatches from the Trenches of Modern Grandparenthood (Heritage $22.95) chronicles retired newsman Ian Haysom’s adventures with his grandkids Mayana, Emma, and Linden. Through funny anecdotes, Haysom explores the unexpected lessons they have taught him (and those he has attempted to teach them). Reminiscent of Bill Bryson (or “Bill Bryson with a touch of arthritis,” says Haysom), this memoir also investigates the changing role of grandparents in the twenty-first century. 9781772033335
I is for Imagining Violet
Mary E. Hughes’ first work of historical fiction, Imagining Violet (self-published) uses letters to tell the story of a 16-year-old Anglo-Irish girl who went to Germany in 1891 to study violin on her own. Violet is based on a few jottings that Hughes’ grandmother made in her Bible. Published by the author and First Choice Books in 2018, the book is available at Salt Spring Books, the Salt Spring Library and via https://imaginingviolet.blogspot.com. Hughes previously published The Life and Times of the Floathouse Zastrozzi (2011) and Frank Welsman, Canadian Conductor (2006).
J is for Jessup
A hoax isn’t always a lie meant to deceive or wound, it can also exert a positive influence argues Heather Jessup in This Is Not a Hoax: Unsettling Truth in Canadian Culture (Wifrid Laurier U. $35.95). Publicity for the book states that hoaxes can be constructive by helping “viewers and readers in re-examining unquestioned institutional trust, habituated cultural hierarchies, and the deeply inscribed racism and sexism of Canada’s settler-colonial history.” Jessup examines hoaxical works from Canadian artists such as Brian Jungen and Rebecca Belmore, and writers and translators David Solway and Erin Moure. She holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and teaches English at Langara College. Her first novel, The Lightning Field (Gaspereau 2011) was a finalist for the Raddall and Savage Book Awards, and was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. She is co-curator and lead director of the Prud’homme Library Project. 978-1-7711-2364-8
K is for Kane
In her third collection of poems, Orrery (Harbour $18.95), Donna Kane explores ideas of consciousness, transformation and space travel through the theme of Pioneer 10, an American space probe launched in 1972 to study Jupiter’s moons. The probe was retired in 2003 when it was hurled away from the solar system. (Orrery is the word for a mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions.) 978-1-55017-918-7
L is for Lazarus
Populist historian Eve Lazarus adds another title to her list of true crime stories, cold cases and non-traditional histories with Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History (Arsenal $32.95). From eccentric museums, buried houses and belly-flop contests to nudist camps, Lazarus explores Vancouver’s neighbourhoods with equal measures of humour and pathos. 978-1-55152-829-8
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
N is for Nayebzadah
In her debut novel, Monster Child (Wolsak & Wynn $20), Rahela Nayebzadah introduces three children of Afghan immigrants trying to find their way in an often uncaring society. A sexual assault causes tragedy and mayhem for the family. Nayebzadah’s first title Jeegareh Ma was an autobiographical novel based on her family’s migration to Canada from Afghanistan. 978-1-989496-30-5
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.
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
R is for Resnick
After forty years as a UBC political science professor, Philip Resnick offers his reflections on academic freedom and key political developments in B.C. and Canada in Itineraries: An Intellectual Odyssey (Ronsdale $21.95). Growing up Jewish in Montreal, he broke with organized religion and moved out west to teach in 1971. At first, not considering himself a good British Columbian – being too rooted in the past, not outdoorsy and European-focused – he stayed anyway, becoming a pundit for the media and eventually writing ten political books and six collections of poetry. 978-1-55380-602-8
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
T is for Terry
Darrell Fox has edited Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters (Viking $29.95) to mark the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope. Due in September, it consists of 40 letters recounting the inspiration, dedication, and perseverance that Terry Fox embodied. The contributors include Margaret Atwood, Bobby Orr, Tom Cockrane, Jann Arden and Christine Sinclair, as well police officers who escorted Terry on his run. Royalties will support the Terry Fox Foundation which has raised over $750 million dollars for cancer research. 9780735240698
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 Vargas
In the mid-1990s, dissatisfied with their lives in Victoria, Dorothy Kirk and her partner Ed Guenther leased a cabin without electricity on Vargas Island, northwest of Tofino. In doing so they were part of a long tradition of idealistic, ‘back-to-the-landers’ in British Columbia who have sought to escape the vexations of urban life, hoping to be buoyed by closeness to nature. Close to the Bone (Vargas Publishing $14) is her posthumous account of their first of eight years on Vargas, until her untimely death. Written by hand, in a rocking chair on a rustic veranda, the memoir/diary frankly reveals that her life was not without its drudgery and deep dives into depression. Whereas her partner could thrive on a pedestrian diet, Kirk was less able to stomach spartan repetitions and unrelenting self-sufficiency. This now-poignant, one-eighth of her story speaks volumes. Along with another little-known wilderness memoir by Christine Peters, it must take its place on the library shelf beside the more high-profile, wilderness works of Gillean Douglas, Deanna Kawatski and Chris Czajkowski (pronounced Tchaikovsky, like the composer). 978-1-7770118-0-2.
W is for Willms
Victoria-based Russ Willms has written and illustrated the picture book Elephants Do Not Belong in Trees (Orca $19.95), out this spring, about an elephant who wants to live in a big bushy tree despite objections from the current residents: Bird, Squirrel and Monkey. For children aged 3-5, it is ultimately about acceptance, making friends and being different. Willms also illustrated the Mr. Christie’s Book Award winner and Governor General’s Award finalist, Brewster Rooster (Kids Can Press, 1993). 9781459825994
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.
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.
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