Victoria Book Prizes

“Maleea Acker (at left) joins four other writers shortlisted this year for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. Three writers are up for the City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize. Read more here.FULL STORY



Who’s Who

Michael Audain

A is for Audain
Michael Audain began collecting art as a teenager. Later, with his wife Yoshiko Karasawa, this collection grew to be one of the most notable private collections in the country. From early to contemporary Indigenous art, Emily Carr paintings, works by Mexican modernists, BC-based contemporary artists and recently the Quebecois artist, Jean-Paul Riopelle, the pieces are some of the best in Canada. He built a museum in Whistler to house the collection, which is open to the public. In Pictures on the Wall (Harbour $60), due out in September, Audain writes candidly about seventy-five significant works from his collection including colour photographs of each artwork. Audain is the founder and chairman of Polygon Homes and wrote the memoir, One Man in His Time (Harbour, 2021). 9781771623742

Ken Budd

B is for Budd
It was 1971 when the idea for No Killers, No Cowards (SummerWild $25) first came to Ken Budd after a strange encounter at a Tofino radar lookout, but it was not until the 2020 global pandemic that the book came to life. In-between those years, Budd retired as a teacher, began his own book production company and wrote four youth fiction books. No Killers introduces readers to Jed McKittrick, whose family has a genetic curse where only male twins are born and one twin always dies. Against a backdrop of World War II, this novel tells of Jed’s struggles growing up with the curse, and the challenges he faces at an isolated Tofino outpost after enlisting with the RCAF. 9780991912643

Buffy Cram. Photo by Jackie Agostinis

C is for Cram
A child of the 1960s, Elizabeth Squire has a complex and difficult relationship with her mother Margaret in the novel Once Upon an Effing Time (D&M $24.95) by Buffy Cram of Salt Spring Island. Margaret leaves Ontario and takes Elizabeth with her on a life journey that sometimes includes criminal misadventures. Yet Elizabeth tries to remain close to the neglectful, conspiracy-loving Margaret. It leads Elizabeth to adopt personas and live multiple lives such as transforming into a fortune teller who speaks in Bob Dylan lyrics, and joining an American hippie doomsday cult. Buffy Cram grew up in a communal housing project on the tip of Vancouver Island, earned an MFA in creative writing from UBC and travelled extensively before returning to BC. 9781771623605

Dora Dueck

D is for Dueck
Return Stroke (CMU $20) is a collection of Dora Dueck’s creative non-fiction and gathers ten of the author’s personal essays as well as a memoir of 1980s life in the Paraguayan Chaco. From publicity for the book: “Graceful, curious and probing, these pieces are like a series of occasionally restless love letters — to her husband and her children, to her sometimes crusty Mennonite ancestors, to the gift of writing, to the vocation of being a keen observer.” Dueck’s second novel, This Hidden Thing (CMU, 2010), won the 2010 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction. What You Get At Home (Turnstone Press, 2012) won the High Plains Award for Short Stories. And, Dueck’s novella Mask was the winning entry for the 2014 Malahat Review novella contest. Dueck grew up in a Mennonite community in Alberta and lived for many years in Winnipeg before eventually moving to Delta, BC. 9781987986105

Karen Enns

E is for Enns
In her fourth poetry collection, Dislocations (Univ. of Regina Press $19.95), Karen Enns’ verses are a lyrical journey through the seasons and the weather—all the while observing human and “otherly” things in nature such as stars, roses, deer, fire, grass, gulls, and light and darkness. There’s deep investigation into the symbolism of words particularly in the book section that outlines ten “dislocations,” the eighth of which reads: “To imagine a colour no one has seen. / And then / white anemones among the cedar.” 9780889779303

Tara Sidhoo Fraser. Photo Kristine Cofsky @tpsheadshots

F is for Fraser
In November 2014, Tara Sidhoo Fraser’s life was irrevocably altered. After suffering a stroke due to a rare brain mutation known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM), Sidhoo Fraser lost all memory of her past, and with it, lost a part of herself. Sidhoo Fraser’s debut book, When My Ghost Sings (Arsenal Pulp $22.95), is a powerful memoir that explores life after amnesia in an almost dream-like sequence. Sidhoo Fraser alternates between life with her partner Jude, and remnants of past memories shown to her by a distant version of herself: her Ghost. These memories play like silent films or hazy photographs, intruding upon her everyday thoughts and new identity. While Sidhoo Fraser strives to reconcile with her past, she understands that “To Ghost, the story of that November morning is important because it tells me how she died.” 9781551529271

Daniel Gawthrop

G is for Gawthrop
The topics of Daniel Gawthrop’s last five non-fiction books range from the AIDS activist, Dr. Peter Jepson-Young, NDP Premier Mike Harcourt, the late Pope Benedict XVI, environmentalism, and the politics of gay ethnicity and desire. Now he’s released his first novel, Double Karma (Cormorant $24.95) about an American photographer, Min Lin, who heads to his father’s homeland of Burma in 1988 where pro-democracy activists are trying to overthrow the military regime. Min gets caught up in the movement after falling in love with one of its leaders. When she’s arrested, Min flees to the jungle and, joining the rebels, comes face-to-face on the battlefield with a Burmese army captain who looks exactly like him. After an explosion kills his double, Min awakes in a hospital misidentified as a hero of the regime, causing him to pose as the dead soldier for his own survival. He escapes back to LA a few years later where he builds a new life, accepts his homosexuality and learns to deal with his father’s secret history in Burma. Decades later, a new wave of religious persecution and ethno-nationalism in the country now known as Myanmar compels him to return. Still haunted by the events of ’88, and knowing his ex-girlfriend is to be released from prison, Min must come to terms with his actions while seeking the truth about the double he met on a battlefield a lifetime ago. 9781770866836

Haley Healey

H is for Healey
Haley Healey writes books that inspire, often focusing on the accomplishments of pioneering women from historical British Columbia. These true stories tell of hardships, overcoming expectations and great bravery. Her latest children’s book, Kimiko Murakami: A Japanese-Canadian Pioneer (Heritage House $19.95) recalls the lives of Kimiko Murakami and her family. Kimiko grew up on Salt Spring Island, where she made a living as a farmer. When World War II broke out, Japanese Canadians were labelled as “enemy aliens,” and Kimiko and her family were sent to internment camps. They worked hard to return home, only to find out their farm had been sold and they had to rebuild their lives. Throughout these injustices, Kimiko adopted the “ganbaru spirit,” which means to push through hard times and never give up. Kimiko’s strength and perseverance are reflected on the book’s pages in illustrations by Kimiko Fraser. 9781772034318

Guy Immega

I is for Immega
Guy Immega, a retired aerospace engineer and entrepreneur living in Vancouver, has published his debut sci-fi novel Super-Earth Mother, the AI that Engineered a Brave New World ( ‎ EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing $20.95). The story is a journey into the heart of humanity, artificial intelligence and the uncharted realms of life beyond our home planet. It shows how humans could colonize the 40 billion habitable planets in the Milky Way. Guy Immega’s company, Kinetic Sciences Inc., built experimental robots for the ISS space station, robots to clean up nuclear waste, and invented miniature fingerprint sensors for cell phones. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer and has a lifelong interest in sub-Saharan Africa. He continues his volunteer efforts as a founding member of the Solar Option Group, providing an engineering proposal to save Lake Chad in the Sahel.  9781770532274.

Wanda John-Kewehin

J is for John-Kehewin
Fourteen-year-old Eva Brown feels lonely and small her home in Hope, BC in Wanda John-Kehewin’s latest YA novel, Hopeless in Hope (Highwater Press $16.95). Eva’s mother, Shirley drinks and yells all the time. Eva is the target of the popular mean girl, and her only friend doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. All of it would be unbearable if it weren’t for her cat, Toofie, her beloved nohkum, and her writing, which no one will ever see. When nohkum is hospitalized after a bad fall, things go from bad to worse. Eva’s younger brother, Marcus, gets sent to live with a foster family; Eva ends up in a group home. Eva directs her fury for the ensuing events at her mother. But then, at a visit to nohkum in hospital, Eva is gifted with Shirley’s diary. Can she find forgiveness for her mother within its pages?

Dietrich Kalteis

K is for Kalteis
Already a critically acclaimed author of ten books, Dietrich Kalteis is back on the scene with The Get: A Crime Novel (ECW Press, $26.95). Since his first novel was released in 2014, Kalteis has established himself as an authority on crime fiction, winning the Crime Writers of Canada Award for Best Crime Novel in 2022. In his new title, Kalteis pens a graphic description of Toronto in the 1960s where the protagonist, Lenny Ovitz, wrangles with unsavoury characters, a fierce crime boss and his own wife. Kalteis’ quick pacing and cutting dialogue transport the reader into the heart of the crime world. 9781770416840

Julie Lawson. Photo by Patrick Lawson

L is for Lawson
One of BC’s, and Canada’s best children’s authors, Julie Lawson has published more than thirty books for young people. She is now set to release Out of the Dark (Nimbus $14.95) a middle grade novel about a teenaged girl enduring the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, the First World War and the onset of the Great Influenza pandemic that killed millions of people around the world. It’s a follow-up to Lawson’s award-winning A Blinding Light (Nimbus, 2017) also set in the same period and place. The characters are different but the themes are similar: the divide between the rich and poor, locals and immigrants, as well as the human bonds that arise in times of tragedy and the importance of resilience in a time of global upheaval.  9781774712344

Hanako Masutani

M is for Masutani
Former creative director of Ricepaper magazine, Hanako Masutani has published the children’s book, Emi and Mini (Tradewind $21.95), about a girl who wants a dog but instead gets a hamster she names Mini. Emiko (Emi) has recently moved with her single mother to the big city and is missing her friends and family far away. Emi wants a dog (like her cousins have) for her birthday but because of the apartment’s pet rules, must settle for a smaller animal in a cage. At first, Emi doesn’t tell anyone about her new pet but then Mini escapes from her cage and hides somewhere in the apartment. When Emi finally finds Mini, she realizes how much she has learned to love this pocket-sized pet. Mini becomes Emi’s confidante as she starts telling the hamster about the difficulties and, eventually, the possibilities of her new home. This story of change and resilience is illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch. Masutani also writes poems, other fiction, and essays, which can be found in GeistGrainThe New Quarterly and Riddle Fence, among other publications. 9781926890203

Sandra Nomoto

N is for Nomoto
While earning her degree in English Literature, Sandra Nomoto published poetry in literary journals and film reviews online. At twenty-five, she founded Conscious Public Relations Inc., and after a decade in business, she authored and self-published The Only Public Relations Guide You’ll Ever Need (2019). Living vegan since 2018, Nomoto is now a content writer, editor and marketing consultant for vegan businesses. She also helps vegan and spiritual authors. She has self-published Vegan Marketing Success Stories (Sandra Nomoto Enterprises, 2022) that focuses on case studies and examples from vegan industry leaders. The book is equal parts inspiration, cautionary tale, and a practical manual. Sandra Nomoto lives in East Vancouver. 9781778052309

Oriane Lee Johnston

O is for Oriane
What to do when you leave a long-time job and then shortly afterwards your long-time relationship ends? In the case of Oriane Lee Johnston, former program director for the Hollyhock Leadership Centre on Cortes Island for 16 years, she googled “Africa + Horses + Volunteer” as she relates in her memoir The Geography of Belonging: A Love Story of Horses and Africa (Salmonberry $25). The resulting journey led her to Zimbabwe, a wildlife safari on horseback, an enduring love affair with an African horseman, a wilderness conservation project and a new lease on life. While Cortes Island is still her home, Johnston continues to return to the families, communities and wild places in Zimbabwe that she writes about. 9781777149222

Bronwyn Preece, photo courtesy Caitlin Press.

P is for Preece
A leg injury left Bronwyn Preece with a severely crooked knee but it didn’t stop her taking a grueling, two-week horse expedition through the isolated wilderness area Muskwa-Kechika in northeast BC as she relates in her ode to backcountry beauty: knee deep in high water: riding the Muskwa-Kechika, expedition poems (Caitlin $20). “Packing pepperoni, power bars and painkillers” Preece muses on her role as a settler, and her fragility and strength in this land of melting mountains and rising rivers. 9781773861142

Sally Quon

Q is for Quon
A disabled writer living in the Okanagan Valley, Sally Quon has published the collection of poems, Beauty Born of Pain (Okanagan Publishing House $23.99), containing four groupings. Secrets details the experience of an abusive marriage. Echoes is about the return of childhood memories once free of the hurtful relationship. Damage is about the lingering effects of the past on mind and body. The final section, Recovery, is about moving forward with hope and healing. Quon has published her poetry widely in creative nonfiction anthologies, and her photographs have appeared in magazines including Canadian Geographic, and the birding brochures of Nature Alberta. In her spare time, Sally explores the back roads near her home. 9781990389306

R is for Raeside
Saying goodbye to a feline friend is never easy. In the illustrated children’s book Paradise for Cats (Harbour $19.95), Adrian Raeside has created a heavenly utopia where cats, dogs, birds and mice all get along. This cat-centric tale purrfectly compliments Raeside’s bestseller The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise (Harbour, 2012), only this time we follow the story of young Amy and her cat Rocky. When Rocky passes away, Amy gets to visit her at the Rainbow Bridge, a paradise where she learns that there’s a happily fur-ever after for pets and their human companions. Raeside brings hope and humour to an otherwise sorrowful topic in this charming book about the love between people and their pets. 9781990776175

Adrian Raeside, self-portrait.

David Suzuki

S is for Suzuki
David Suzuki takes his twin grandkids (Suzuki is their Bompa) on an expedition hunting for bugs in Bompa’s Insect Expedition (Greystone Kids $23.95), for kids aged 4 to 8. But the trip takes them no further than exploring outside the door. Nevermind, what they find is awe inspiring—world-champion flyers, eaters and weightlifters. Bompa teaches them how to recognize the amazing feats of the creatures in the insect world. Co-written with Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Qin Leng, this picture book is full of surprises. 9781771648820

Tash McAdam

T is for Tash
As a trans activist, educator, and author, Tash McAdam creates stories that speak to those who often find themselves on the sidelines of representation. In their latest book, Airlock (Orca $10.95), McAdam blends their own lived experience with that of the protagonist Brick, a nonbinary teen living on a futuristic version of Earth. Airlock is a suspenseful and action-packed space adventure, where Brick faces off against authority, pirates, and their own anxiety. McAdam’s background in Computer Science and karate help bring their sci-fi stories to life, and the hi-lo structure of their stories make them both inclusive and accessible for young readers. 9781459836600

Ulla Hakanson

U is for Ulla
In Ulla Hakanson’s first thriller The Price of Silence (BroadPen Books, 2013) a young woman, Amy Robinson, is stalked by her criminal ex-fiance in the wilderness. In Hakanson’s sequel, Flight Across Waters (BroadPen Books $24.99), Amy has married a police detective and while they’re on their honeymoon in a seaside cottage, they get caught up in the mysterious death of the pilot of a small plane and his wife. Then Amy’s husband goes missing and the police won’t share any details of his disappearance. So Amy decides to investigate on her own. Ulla Hakanson of Nanoose Bay was born in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden in 1941. She worked at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm as a draftsperson for one of the institute’s scientific publications. She arrived in Canada in 1968 and lived in Toronto before moving to BC in 1996 where she began writing. 9780992050313

Délani Valin

V is for Valin
In her debut collection of poems, Shapeshifters (Nightwood $19.95), Délani Valin embodies different personas to deal with her urban Métis experience and neurodivergence. It was fellow poet Marilyn Bowering who suggested to Valin that she “play with different personas as a way to access difficult experiences” says Valin in her acknowledgements. Valin’s choice of personas is intriguing: Barbie, Betty Crocker, Michelin Man and Starbucks among others. She even shapeshifts to conditions like autism and depression. Other poems are more straightforward confessionals. Valin’s publisher says this book “maps ways in which an individual can attempt to fit into a world that is inhospitable to them, and makes a case for shifting the shape of that world.” 9780889714281

Phyllis Webstad

W is for Webstad
As the founder of Orange Shirt Day and an Indigenous survivor of the Canadian residential school system, Phyllis Webstad has an important message in her newest book Every Child Matters (Medicine Wheel Publishing $24.99). The picture book for children details Webstad’s harrowing experience at the colonial institution where many other Indigenous children before and after her suffered until the last BC school closed in 1983. Residential schools and their enforcers taught Indigenous children that they did not matter, but Webstad seeks to turn the page on intergenerational trauma and promote healing. Paired with illustrations by Karlene Harvey, Every Child Matters tells children about the history and impact of the residential school system, while emphasizing the importance of culture, reconciliation and resilience. 9781778540165

Xiran Jay Zhao

X is for Xiran
They’ve got over 250,000 YouTube subscribers, 65,000 Twitter followers, 25,000 Instagram followers and a website that averages 5,000 unique visitors per month. Now, non-binary Xiran Jay Zhao of Vancouver is publishing their first sci-fi/fantasy novel Iron Widow (Penguin $21.99) for ages 14 and up. Using a blend of Chinese history and futuristic mecha (humanoid mobile robots) science fiction, the book features a heroine inspired by China’s only legitimate female sovereign, Wu Zetian (who is credited with reducing corruption and revitalizing the country’s culture and economy). Xiran is a first-generation Chinese immigrant who lives and works in Vancouver where they are training to become a biochemist. 9780735269934

Robin Yeatman. Photo by Vivian Doan.

Y is for Yeatman
Victoria is an unhappily married woman who buries her melancholy in books and daydreaming in Robin Yeatman’s debut novel, Bookworm (Harper Perennial $21), a darkly humorous story of obsession and deeply- rooted fantasy life. One day, in Victoria’s favorite café, she notices a handsome man with the same book she is reading. She daydreams that this stranger must be her soul mate. Then, remembering she is married, Victoria’s mind retreats to darker places and ways of getting rid of “dreaded husband” for “café man.” It’s harmless fantasy until one night, fiction and reality blur. Will Victoria get what she’s wished for? Vancouver-based Robin Yeatman describes herself as a bookworm who learned to read at the age of three. She composed her first novel at the age of twelve and kept up the writing habit. She took early drafts of Bookworm to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival before finishing it in her spare time. The novel will be released on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2023. 9780063273009

David Zieroth

Z is for Zieroth
Governor General Award-winning poet, David Zieroth tells of trips to Bratislava, Slovakia and his affection for the place and friends there in his latest book of poems the trick of staying and leaving (Harbour $22.95). “Can I write about a city I’ve merely / visited? – several times, mind you /,” he muses in the first poem. Then does so with 75 more poems on the subject. 9781990776021


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