Uncovering a fanciful, theatrical relic

In 1918, when Naramata boasted Canada’s first national theatre, its founder wrote The God of Gods, the first Canadian play staged with all indigenous characters–now recovered by editor Kalin Wright (left). REVIEW

Who’s Who

A is for Appleseed
Poet Joshua Whitehead debut novel, Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal $17.95), is the first B.C.-published fiction in many a year—since David Chariandy’s Arsenal-published Soucouyant in 2007 and Claire Mulligan’s The Reckoning of Boston Jim in 2008—to make it onto the Giller Prize longlist. It’s the tale of a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living in the big city. Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez”–and his former life–to attend the funeral of his stepfather. Now Arsenal has partnered with VS Books for a new imprint to boost young writers who are Indigenous, Black of people of colour. 9781551527253

Kathryn Bridge

B is for Bridge
After a fire destroyed much of the backlist of Sono Nis Press, the likes of Kathryn Bridge were left in the lurch as to the future of their books. The Victoria archivist has since arranged for a slightly re-titled, second edition reprint of By Snowshoe, Buckboard & Steamer: Women of the Frontier, about four pioneer women in B.C. during the 19th century—winner of the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award from the B.C. Historical Federation in 1999—now to be reissued as Snowshoe, Buckboard & Steamer: Women of the British Columbia Frontier (RBCM $19.95). As well, Henry & Self: The Private Life of Sarah Crease 1826-1922 will be reprinted as Henry & Self: An English Gentlewoman at the Edge of Empire (RBCM $22.95). Snowshoe 978-0-7726-7310-7; Self 978-0-7726-7261-2

C is for Charish
Vancouver-based Kristi Charish launched a new urban fantasy series with The Voodoo Killings (Vintage Canada 2016), following the modern, urban adventures of Kincaid Strange, a voodoo practitioner who solves paranormal murders. Kincaid’s “ex” is a Seattle cop named Aaron who works the “afterlife” beat. In the follow-up novel coming in January, Lipstick Voodoo (Vintage $19.95), Kincaid’s roommate, who is the ghost of a grunge-rocker who was frequently unhinged, returns home bound to a dead body. This roommate, Nate, is trapped within the corpse; and the corpse is coveted by Kincaid’s new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer. If that’s not complicated enough, Aaron, the cop, wants Kincaid to help him interview Nate’s ghost… It’s billed as creepy and fun. Charish studied archeology and zoology, achieving her BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in molecular biology and biochemistry; later she earned a PhD in Zoology at the University of British Columbia. She has worked as a scientific adviser for fantasy and science fiction writer Diana Rowland and is co-host of the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast. She says she spent her formative high school years listening to grunge music. Charish also has an ‘Owl’ series about an antiquities thief named Owl, a modern-day ‘Indiana Jane’ who reluctantly navigates a hidden supernatural world. 978-0-345-81590-3

D is for Dawkins
Co-owner of Vancouver’s Lattimer Gallery, Alexander Dawkins has written Understanding Northwest Coast Indigenous Jewelry (Greystone $24.95) to convey that his subject is an art form that goes beyond bracelets, rings and pendants. With more than 100 photographs, he analyzes designs, delves into the history of the art form, highlights the traits of the most common animal symbols and includes biographies and works from more than fifty of the Coast’s best-known jewelers. Northwest Coast artist Corinne Hunt, who co-designed medals for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, wrote the foreword. 978-1-77164-297-2

Sean Daly in Spain

E is for Erzgebirge
Sean Daly’s From the Erzgebirge to Potosi (Friesen Press 2018) is a B.C. book like no other. As an overview of geology and mining since the 1500s, it considers the relationship between mining, geology and society, including the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, while citing the most important strikes and protests by miners to improve their working conditions. From the Erzgebirge Mountains in Bohemia where underground silver mines were started in the 1500s (now located within eastern Germany and the Czech Republic) to the contemporary silver mines at Potosi in Bolivia, Daly charts the progress of geotechnical thinking with emphasis on the first geologist/engineer, Georgius Agricola who wrote his treatise De Re Metallica during the Renaissance. As the son of West Coast salmon fisherman John Daly, profiled in Edith Iglauer’s Fishing with John, Sean Daly first became fascinated with geology due to the proximity of an old mine near Pender Harbour where he grew up. Having studied geology and mining engineering at university, and having also worked at the Highland Copper Mine for nineteen years, Daly has supplemented his knowledge by visiting famous mines in South America and Europe. 978-1-5255-1759-4 pp $32 / 978-1-5255-1758-7 hc $38.55

F is for Fiona
For six-and-a-half years North Vancouver-born Fiona McQuarrie was a music critic at the Vancouver Sun and The Province. Her lifelong interest in pop music has led to her first book, Song Book: 21 Songs from 10 Years (1964-74) (Walthamstow, UK: New Haven Publishing 2018 / $18 U.S.) which tells the stories of how and why some of her favourite songs were written by the likes of Randy Newman, Beach Boys, Tim Hardin, Donovan and Split Enz. 9781912587155

Gogs Gagnon

G is for Gagnon
In 2017, at age 57, Gogs Gagnon, became one of the over two million Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer. After surgery and recovery, he decided to share his story to inspire others to become their own health advocates. Gogs reveals intimate details that everyone impacted by the disease – man or woman – needs to know. His memoir Prostate Cancer Strikes: Navigating the Storm (Granville Island $18.95) offers a route towards greater awareness of male health issues and their treatments. Born in New Westminster, Gogs Gagnon has worked as independent technology consultant and developed software for Apple, IBM, and the government of British Columbia, serving provincially as a lead programmer analyst and data architect. His next book is a coming-of-age novel set in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia during the 1970s. He lives in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. 9781926991948

Philip Huynh

H is for Huynh
Now a lawyer in Richmond, Philip Huynh offers some superb, opening stories about the Vietnamese diaspora in Canada, mainly set in Vancouver, in his forthcoming debut collection, The Forbidden Purple City (Goose Lane $22.95). The title story concerns the walled palace of Vietnam’s Nguyen (pronounced NWEE-en) dynasty in the former capital of Hue, in central Vietnam, not to be confused with its counterpart in Beijing. The dynasty had thirteen emperors until its final emperor abdicated in 1945, but an emphasis on that story is a tad misleading. The most compelling tales are deft renderings of the modern lives of first-generation Canadians trying to balance awareness of their parents’ values and attitudes with their need to forge their own identities. Definitely a “writer-to-watch,” the Vancouver-born Huynh has deservedly won several prizes for his stories. His parents fled Vietnam during the civil war. 9781773100784

Isabella Wang

I is for Isabella Wang
Isabella Wang has been making her mark with a series of interviews for Room magazine with the likes of Eden Robinson, Katherena Vermette, Triny Finlay and Arielle Twist. Her own debut poetry chapbook is forthcoming with Baseline Press. At 18, she became a two-time finalist and the youngest writer shortlisted for The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Essay Contest. Her poetry has appeared in Room Magazine, The /tEmz/ Review, Train JournalCanthius, Plenitude, and Looseleaf Magazine, and she holds a Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry. Her essays are published in carte blanche, Invisible Blog, and The New Quarterly. She has been studying English and World Literature at SFU, interning at Room Magazine, serving as the Youth Advocate for the BC Federation of Writers, and co-ordinating the bi-weekly Dead Poets Reading Series.

J is for James
Rick James has provided an authoritative overview of what really happened when B.C. boats ran liquor to the U.S. during Prohibiton Don’t Never Tell Nobody NothinNo How: The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running (Harbour $32.95). “We operated perfectly legal,” said Captain Charles Hudson. “We considered ourselves philanthropists! We supplied good liquor to poor thirsty Americans … and brought prosperity back to the Harbour of Vancouver.” 978-1-55017-841-8 [Author photo by Patrick Lawson]

Sabina Khan

K is for Khan
Seattle teen Rukhsana Ali hides her crop tops and make-up from her conservative Muslim parents and sneaks off to parties without her parent’s knowledge. She looks forward to the day, a few months hence, when she breaks free from her heavily monitored life to attend Caltech and start a new, freer life. All her plans are forsaken when Rukhsana’s parents catch her kissing girlfriend Ariana, and send her to Bangladesh. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali (Scholastic Press $22.99) is Sabina Khan’s first YA novel. Born in Germany, she spent her teens in Bangladesh and lived in Macao, Illinois and Texas before settling in Vancouver with her husband and two daughters. 978-1-338-22701-7

Mark Laba

L is for Laba
After seventeen years, Mark Laba has produced a second collection of poems The Inflatable Life (Anvil $18). According to his publisher, the poems recreate, “the structure of the old variety shows he watched on TV as a child. The reader will find a little singing, a little dancing, a little drama, a little comedy, a little experimentation, all rooted in a veritable grab-bag of far-ranging experiences.” The poems are surreal in nature, similar in style to his first book of poems, Dummy Spit (Mercury 2002). Perhaps better known for his ten years as a restaurant reviewer for the Province newspaper, Laba cites a range of employment in his CV: watchmaker, anatomical model painter, stock and bond messenger, vertical-blind maker, scriptwriter for educational animation, and artist. His The Mack Bolan Poems (Gesture 1985) won the bpNichol Chapbook Award. 978-1-77214-142-9

Shayne Morrow

M is for Morrow
During his fifteen years as a reporter for the Alberni Valley Times, Shayne Morrow was in Port Alberni in 1966 when the lifeless body of eleven-year-old Jessica States was found in the woods, beaten, after she had somehow disappeared while chasing foul balls at a local fast-pitch game. Nineteen years earlier, twelve-year-old Carolyn Lee had been abducted and murdered in Port Alberni while walking home from her dance class. Lee’s murderer was not found. While covering the States case, Morrow had close access to investigators and scientists who also took a renewed interest in the Lee case, partly due to emerging DNA technology. Were the two murders linked? As Morrow reveals in his forthcoming The Bulldog and the Helix: DNA and the Pursuit of Criminal Justice in a Frontier Town (Heritage $22.95), Gurmit Singh Dillon was convicted of the murder of Carolyn Lee in 1998; then Roderick Patten was arrested a year later for the murder of Jessica States. Since 2011, Morrow has worked as a freelance writer for Ha-Shilth-Sa, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council news service, and the publication Windspeaker. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. 9781772032505

Janet Niocol

N is for Nicol
Having contributed as a freelancer to fifty magazines, and having taught high school history for twenty-nine years in Vancouver as well as summer workshops to teachers in Mongolia, Peru and Tanzania, Janet Nicol produced her forthcoming first book, On the Curve: The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews (Caitlin $28.95), the first full-length study of the reclusive Campbell River painter who immigrated to Canada in 1947 and died in 1992. Nicol has also volunteered for the BC Labour Heritage Centre, Room magazine and the British Columbia Historical Federation. She has a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia and was the recipient of the British Columbia Historical Federation’s Anne and Philip Yandle Best Article Award in 2013. 9781987915877.

O is Onjana Yawnghwe
As her spouse transitions from perceived masculinity towards a new identity, poet onjana yawnghwe bravely records her own sense of wonder and loss in the small way (Caitlin $18), a remarkably compassionate view of a heart-twisting, dwindling friendship, sated with respect. Born in Thailand, yawnghwe is a Shan-Canadian who grew up in B.C. Her poems have been featured in numerous anthologies and journals, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011, 4 Poets, CV2, Room, Ricepaper, The New Quarterly, Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue) and Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press) edited by Yvonne Blomer and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham. Featuring work by Yawnghwe, Daniela Elza, Peter Morin and Al Rempel, 4 poets (Mother Tongue 2009 $18.95) was the first volume in a proposed series from Mother Tongue to highlight emerging poets. It included poetry drafts, interviews, author photographs, poetics and short biographies as well as translations of select poems into French, Thai, Bulgarian and Tahltan. Onjana Yawnghwe has taught English as a second language, and worked in office administration at non-profits for many years. She currently works as a nurse in mental health. Aside from writing, Onjana also hosted a podcast and blog called “The Alaskan Riviera” about the 1990’s television show Northern Exposure. 978-1-987915-77-8

P is for Potter
With the explosion of Kombucha drinks on North American store shelves it was only a matter of time before a guide to brewing the probiotic fermented tea appeared. DIY Kombucha: Sparkling Homebrews Made Easy (New Society $29.99) by Vancouver chef and registered holistic nutritionist Andrea Potter offers practical easy recipes that don’t require expensive equipment or hard-to-find ingredients. Readers will find out what a SCOBY is (basically, it’s the culture used to make Kombucha but there’s a long story behind it), the history and other interesting facts such as how to prevent bottles of fizzy drink from exploding. The book also explores similar health drinks such as Jun, and water Kefir. 978-0-86571-887-6

Q is for Quebec
It was Gordon Campbell’s regime that instructed ICBC to become more litigious when British Columbians try to get compensation as accident victims. Possibly it says something about his popularity, after a decade-long premiership that included the Winter Olympics, that the first critical book to examine his legacy isn’t B.C.-published. From the McGill-Queen’s imprint in Quebec, UNBC professors J.R. Lacharite and Tracy Summerville have gathered 368 pages of critical essays for The Campbell Revolution? Power, Politics and Policy in British Columbia (MQUP $31.46). 9780773551039

PJ Reece

R is for PJ Reece
The late humorist and CBC Radio personality Arthur Black praised PJ Reece’s latest book, Throw Mama from the Boat: And Other Ferry Tales (Rolling West 2018) for being funny and weird. Others simply describe this collection of 13 short stories as whimsical. The author himself says his initial aim was to run with the absurd, and that by staying on this track “soon it develops its own reality.” Reece has been a working writer for 25 years, having scripted documentaries for most of the big networks, published two novels, ghosted a memoir, and self-published two books on story structure. A well-travelled cinematographer, he has has also spent time in East Africa as a hydrometeorologist.

S is for Schwartz
Prior to the internment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia, in 1942, two young friends named Michiko (Michi) and Esther are both hankering to own the most popular dolls on display in a Vancouver storefront window–the Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret dolls, in keeping with the British Empire’s idealization of its royal family as heroic figures. The two friends share a birthday so they are simultaneously hoping their wished-for sister dolls might be able to play together. Esther’s grandmother, who is deeply concerned about the fate of Jewish relatives in Europe, gives the Elizabeth doll to Esther. When Michi doesn’t receive the Margaret doll, jealousy arises and the friendship falters; then it’s almost severed when Michiko’s family must close their corner store and are interned away from the coast. That’s the premise for Ellen Schwartz’s The Princess Dolls (Tradewind $19.95), illustrated by Mariko Ando. For readers aged 9-12. 9781926890081

T is for Jim Taylor OBITUARY

Jim Taylor (1937-2019)

T is for Ts’elxwéyeqw
Having co-edited a Haig-Brown BC Book Prize-winning atlas in 2001, David M. Schaepe has proceeded to edit the mammoth Being Ts’elxwéyeqw: First Peoples’ Voices and History from the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley, British Columbia (Harbour $94.95) by the Tselxwéyeqw Tribe in which 85 place names are traced and explained. The traditional territory of the Ts’elxwéyeqw First Peoples covers over 95,000 hectares of land in Southwestern B.C., encompassing the entire Chilliwack River Valley. The Chilliwack region gets its name from the Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe. Being Ts’elxwéyeqw portrays the people, artifacts and landscapes that are central to the Ts’elxwéyeqw people, and represents a rich oral record of an aboriginal heritage spanning thousands of years. 978-1-55017-818-0

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 Varga
With ghost writer Roxanne Davies, Michael G. Varga tells the stories of his 40 years spent as a cameraman in Inside View: The Eye Behind the Lens (Self published, unpriced). Working with the CBC, Varga covered NHL hockey games, Grey Cup games, nine Olympics, four Commonwealth Games, the Pan Am Games, World Track and Field, FIFA World Cup, World Cup Skiing,  figure skating chamionships and more. He was at the Calgary Olympics in 1986 when the world was introduced to Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsledders. He tells his favourite Peter Mansbridge story, which occurred during an interview shoot with computer software magnate Bill Gates, as well as many more inside peeks about working at the “Mother Corp” as CBC is known by those in the business. He came face-to-face with royalty such as Princess Diana in 1983 and noted her vulnerability as well as her beauty. Years later while working on the Molson Indy in Vancouver, he heard the director calling the cameras in his earpiece, “Take camera 1, take camera 2. Diana just died in a car crash. Take camera 3, take camera 4.” While everyone was shocked, they all had to keep recording the car race. Later that evening, Varga heard the rest of the story on the news. All in a day’s work for a TV camerman. 978-1-9994-026-2-4

W is for Wong
Featured on the Summer issue cover of BC BookWorld, Lindsay Wong is now a finalist for the the 2019 edition of CBC’s Toronto-centric Canada Reads! for her first book, The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family (Arsenal Pulp), a rarity for a B.C.-published book. Also shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, this memoir of growing up in Vancouver concerns mental health and humor within a Chinese Canadian household. Canada Reads is an annual “Battle of the Books” in which five people described as celebrities champion their favourite books in a competition to decide the winning title “that the entire country will be reading.” This year’s Canada Reads, to be broadcast on national CBC television, radio, and online, will take place March 25–28, 2019. Overseeing the contest will be host Ali Hassan. The book was reviewed in B.C. BookWorld by Joan Givner. Imogene Lim reviewed the The Woo-Woo for The Ormsby Review. See: https://bcbooklook.com/2019/01/17/466-chinese-ghosts-chinese-identity/

X is for Xinhuixian
The story of how Wah Lee and his wife, Mon Ho, travelled from Xinhuixian (formerly Sun-wui County) in China to British Columbia in 1917, via the Sun Ning Railway corridor and Hong Kong, begins the family memoir, From Wah Lee to Chew Keen: The Story of a Pioneer Chinese Family in North Cariboo (Friesen Press $17.49), by relative Liping Wong Yip. The couple settled in Quesnel where Wah Lee became known as Chew Keen, and the couple had six children. This important work of B.C. history has been reviewed by Tzu-I Chung in The Ormsby Review. 9781460294307

Patricia Young

Y is for Young
Patricia Young’s latest collection of poems Amateurs at Love (Goose Lane $19.95) explores the dynamics between lovers. To the question of what is love, the BC Book Prize winner for poetry answers: “I think it means a boxcar going off the rails, grain spilling down a gully, fermenting over summer, a bear gorging on that grain, passing out in a field, a bear that could wake any moment, hung-over and thirsty and ready to kill for a drop of water.” Young employs a range of poetic forms, unconventional metaphors, and rich rhythms to describe the many layers of human relationships and joy. She has published twelve previous poetry collections, a book of short fiction, and been chosen for many anthologies. Young has received other accolades including the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, the Confederation Poets Prize and been twice nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.  978-0-86492-991-4 

Lee Edward Fodi

Z is for Zoone
Blue tigers with wings, shadows that stare back at you, cursed princesses, wizardry conventions, and secret basement doors leading to a place called Zoone where hundreds of other doors exist into more fantastical universes. Lee Edward Fodi’s The Secret of Zoone (HarperCollins $21) tracks the adventures of a boy called Ozzie as he goes to the magical Zoone with the blue tiger, named Tug. Fodi is a children’s author, or daydreaming expert as he prefers to describe himself, who has authored the Chronicles of Kendra Kandlestar series. Ozzie and Tug’s story may well be the start of a new series. 978-0-06-284526-9

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