Afghani flight to freedom

Shahnaz Qayumi (left) writes about the aftermath of the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and details life under Taliban rule for young readers in her latest novel.FULL STORY


Aislinn Hunter wins top fiction prize

Coincidental with a feature review in The New York Times, Aislinn Hunter’s The World Before Us (Doubleday) has received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

May 12th, 2015

Winners at 31st BC Book Prizes gala in Vancouver, Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel, April 25.

Hunter’s novel was reviewed eight months ago in BC BookWorld. “This is a book about affection, ” she said. “…Our time on this earth can be fleeting. Love while you can.”

Aislinn Hunter acknowledged the strength of her fellow nominees (“If there was a butterfly that flapped its wings in Mexico any differently on a Tuesday, any one of you could be standing here.”) and she thanked her editor, Lynn Henry (“the editor of my life), her mentor, Jack Hodgins and her husband who has never said to her, “Maybe you should take more teaching courses.”

As co-editors, marine scientists Richard Beamish and Gordon McFarlane took home the coveted Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize for best book about B.C. with The Sea Among Us: The Amazing Strait of Georgia (Harbour).

Aislinn Hunter with host Bill Richardson

Aislinn Hunter with host Bill Richardson

“This book is about the Strait of Georgia,” said Beamish. “We have an incredible eco-system that very few people know anything about. I think it’s the first time any book has been written about a marine eco-system anywhere in the world. We want people to understand the complexity.”

Eve Joseph won the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for her multi-faceted In the Slender Margin: The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying (HarperCollins). She thanked her publisher for allowing her to write an exploratory work on the subject, as well as her partner, poet Patrick Friessen.

Aaron Chapman primarily thanked former Commodore club owner Drew Burns when he received the Bill Duthie Booksellers Choice Award, along with his publisher, Brian Lam, for Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver’s Historic Commodore Ballroom (Arsenal Pulp). Lam made reference to the fact that either Harbour or D&M titles have won this prize more than half the time since 1986.

Eve Joseph with co-nominee Christine Lowther

Eve Joseph with co-nominee Christine Lowther

Sechelt-based author and mentor Betty Keller was humble to a fault when receiving her Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence from the Honourable Judith Guichon. Keller is most widely known for having started the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, the first ongoing literary gathering of its kind in B.C. “She is one of those rare writers who has put more effort into enabling and promoting other writers than into her own cause,” said publisher Howard White. “Her contribution to letters in B.C. has been huge, and until now, mostly unsung.”

Nicolson, cecily at podium

Cecily Nicholson

Cecily Nicholson took home the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for From the Poplars (Talonbooks). [See separate story on BCBookLook]

First Nations illustrator Julie Flett took home her second Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize, this time for Dolphin SOS (Tradewind), co-written by poet and civil rights activist Roy Miki and his wife Slavia Miki. [See separate item on BCBookLook]

Maggie de Vries won the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for Children’s Literature for Rabbit Ears (HarperCollins). [See separate item on BCBookLook]

Bill Richardson epitomized dignity and aplomb, avoiding self-referentialism, as the only person to have hosted the B.C. Book Prizes four times. CBC-affiliated hosts emcee the gala about half the time. Multiple appearances over the past 31 years as host have been made by Susan Musgrave (3), Vicki Gabereau (2), Bob Robertson of Double Exposure (2) and Charles Demers (2).

Of 35 titles nominated this year for seven prizes, there were 26 nominations for women; 17 for men.

In terms of the books, 17 were from B.C. publishers and 18 were from non-B.C. publishers. Ten nominated titles were published from the Sunshine Coast.

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The BC Book Prizes were established in 1985 to celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers. The prizes are administered and awarded by a non-profit society that represents all facets of the publishing and writing community.

Harbour Publishing had six nominations; HarperCollins from Ontario had four; Caitlin Press of Halfmoon Bay and Kids Can of Ontario had three each.

Double nominees were Caroline Adderson for adult fiction and illustrated children’s literature; scientists Richard Beamish and Gordon McFarlane for Haig-Brown and Booksellers’ Choice; and Toronto illustrator Qin Leng twice in the same category for the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize.

FRONT PAGE PHOTO, from left to right: Julie Flett, Richard Beamish, Aislinn Hunter, Maggie de Vries, Betty Keller, Gordon McFarlane, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, Aaron Chapman, Slavia Miki, Brian Lam, Roy Miki, Cecily Nicholson, Eve Joseph.


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