R.I.P. Alice Munro (1931 – 2024)

“Compared to Anton Chekhov for her peerless short stories for which she won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro (left) has died.FULL STORY

 

BC & Yukon Book Prizes Shortlist

April 19th, 2024

The following authors and books are competing as finalists within eight categories at the 40th Annual BC and Yukon Book Prizes.

The winners will be announced at the BC and Yukon Book Prizes Gala on Saturday, September 28, 2024, at the University Golf Club in Vancouver, along with the recipient of the 2024 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and the Borealis Prize: The Commissioner of Yukon Award for Literary Contribution.

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize Shortlist

Darrel J. McLeod (at right) is shortlisted for his novel, A Season in Chezgh’un (D&M 24.95), that follows James, a Cree man from Northern Alberta, who enjoys a comfortable life in Vancouver but struggles with feeling disconnected from his culture. After his mother’s death, he takes a job as a principal in a remote Dakelh community, hoping to reconnect with his roots. However, upon confronting the poverty of the Indigenous community as well as his own unexpected cultural disruption, James’ self-destructive tendencies are triggered.

Geoffrey Morrison

Falling Hour (Coach House Books $22.95) is Geoffrey Morrison’s debut novel. Clerical worker, Hugh Dalgarno, experiences a mental journey over the course of a day and night in an empty park. Through his musings, he explores various topics including theology, nature, pop culture and philosophy. Anchored by references to Keats’ letters and folk songs, the novel offers a meandering exploration of thought and the human experience.

Hazel Jane Plante

Any Other City (Arsenal Pulp $22.95) by Hazel Jane Plante is a dual-sided fictional memoir, ostensibly told by Tracy St. Cyr, lead singer of the indie rock band Static Saints. Side A portrays her life in 1993, as a young artist navigating a labyrinthine city and finding kinship with a group of trans women, including the enigmatic artist, Sadie Tang. In Side B, set in 2019, Tracy, now a semi-famous musician, grapples with trauma through music, queer community and sexual exploration. The novel explores themes of friendship, love and the transformative power of art and queer identity across decades.

Brandon Reid

Brandon Reid’s debut novel, Beautiful Beautiful (Nightwood $24.95), follows twelve-year-old Derik Mormin as he journeys to Bella Bella for his grandfather’s funeral. Along the way, he confronts his family’s traumatic past, contemplates masculinity, and reconciles Indigenous and Western ways of life. Narrated by Derik’s babysitter, a shaman raven called Redbird, the story intertwines humor with grave subjects, offering primordial visions and spiritual connections. Together, Derik and Redbird navigate through laughter and tears, discovering unity and the essence of belief amidst their adventures.

Chelsea Wakelyn

Chelsea Wakelyn’s novel, What Remains of Elsie Jane (Rare Machines $24.99), follows Elsie Jane grappling with the aftermath of her lover Sam’s death. Elsie Jane navigates grief, single parenthood, and the haunting presence of her deceased loved ones. She immerses herself in Sam’s love letters, engages in futile internet dating, and even seeks out a space-time wizard on Craigslist in her desperate quest to reconnect with Sam. Through Elsie Jane’s journey, the novel delves into the complexities of motherhood, the stigma surrounding drug-related deaths, and the allure of magical thinking in the face of profound loss, ultimately emphasizing that grief stems from deep love.

 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize shortlist

Colleen Brown. Photo Zed Payne

Colleen Brown’s memoir, If You Lie Down in a Field, She Will Find You There (Radiant Press $20.00) delves into the life of her late mother, Doris Brown, whose sudden death in 1974 during a divorce was later attributed to a serial killer. The book aims to reclaim Doris’ identity beyond the sensationalism of her murder. Colleen interviews her siblings to capture the essence of Doris’ life. In addition, essays and memories from Doris’ youngest children, Colleen and Laura, alongside spoken word anecdotes, offer a poignant glimpse into their mother’s personality and family history.

Naomi Klein

Now a New York Times bestselling book, Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $36.55) explores the author’s experience of encountering a doppelganger with views diametrically opposed to her own, causing her to question reality in an era where AI-generated text blurs the line between truth and falsehood. Klein delves into the destabilizing effects of this phenomenon, drawing on cultural references and societal analysis to dissect the intersection of economic, medical and political crises. Through humor and insight, she navigates the surreal landscape of our times, challenging readers to confront the doubles that haunt us and envision a path forward beyond despair, toward a politics of collective care and historical reckoning.

Helen Knott

Helen Knott’s highly anticipated second book, Becoming a Matriarch (Knopf Canada $32.00), chronicles Knott’s journey through grief, love and legacy after losing her mother and grandmother within six months. As she navigates the complexities of matriarchy, martyrdom and codependency, Knott discovers the need to let go of both her loved ones and her former identity. The book explores themes of mourning, sobriety and generational dreaming, with poetic insights and heartfelt storytelling. From the landscapes of Northeastern British Columbia to the streets of Antigua, Guatemala, Knott explores the true meaning of matriarchy and the transformative power of embracing one’s “becoming.”

Emelia Symington-Fedy

Skid Dogs (D&M 26.95), a memoir by Emelia Symington-Fedy, explores the author’s journey back to her hometown to stay with her mother, following the murder of an eighteen-year-old girl on the same train tracks she once grew up on. As the media shifts blame to the victim of this crime, Symington-Fedy comes to terms with the mistreatment of her own teenage body, giving a bold, dark and humorous account of the rape culture that prevailed in the 90s.

John Vaillant

Award-winning author, John Vaillant’s Fire Weather (Knopf Canada $19.08) was named “Best Book of the Year” by The Guardian. In May 2016, Fort McMurray, the heart of Canada’s petroleum industry, was engulfed by a devastating wildfire, forcing 88,000 people from their homes in a matter of hours. Vaillant examines this catastrophic event as a grim harbinger of the future in a world increasingly prone to wildfires due to climate change. He traces the complex relationship between humanity and fire throughout history, highlighting its role in shaping culture and civilization. Vaillant explores the intertwined histories of the oil industry and climate science, offering a sobering account of the destructive power of modern forest fires and the lives forever altered by them.

 

Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize

Jennifer Bonnell

Jennifer Bonnell’s Stewards of Splendour: A History of Wildlife and People in British Columbia (Royal BC Museum Publications $34.95) draws on historical and scientific literature and over 80 interviews in its examination of how British Columbians view wildlife and the effects of hunting, resource extraction, roads and infrastructure. Spanning the history of human relationships with wildlife, from pre-contact Indigenous land stewardship to the present day, this book explores the ways that scientists, Indigenous leaders, hunter-conservationists and naturalists have contributed to, and contested wildlife management practices in British Columbia.

Ian Kennedy

Author Ian Kennedy’s The Best Loved Boat: The Princess Maquinna (Harbour $34.95), tells of a Canadian Pacific Railway ship built in 1913, that navigated the treacherous waters of Vancouver Island’s west coast for over forty years, earning a place as one of BC’s most cherished vessels. Known affectionately as “Old Faithful,” the Princess Maquinna served as a vital link for Indigenous communities, settlers, and workers along the coast, making stops at numerous ports over its seven-day journeys. Kennedy recounts the ship’s battles with extreme weather and highlights the discrimination faced by Indigenous and Chinese passengers. Through rich detail, he brings to life a bygone era when the west coast of Vancouver Island thrived with mines, canneries, and European settlements.

Wayne McCrory

In The Wild Horses of the Chilcotin: Their History and Future (Harbour $39.95), wildlife biologist Wayne McCrory presents a compelling argument for recognizing the wild horses, known as qiyus in Tŝilhqot’in culture, as an integral part of the Chilcotin’s ecosystem. Despite being seen as intruders by government policy, McCrory highlights their resilience and significance to the Tŝilhqot’in people. Drawing upon two decades of research, he sheds light on their genetic history and their role within the balanced prey-predator ecosystem of the region. McCrory also explores the juxtaposition between efforts to protect the wild horses and movements advocating for their culling, offering a nuanced perspective on this controversial issue.

David Norwell

A Complex Coast: A Kayak Journey from Vancouver Island to Alaska (Heritage $29.95) is the soul-searching account of David Norwell’s kayak journey spanning 1,700 kilometers from Victoria to Gustavas, Alaska. As a twenty-four-year-old geography student seeking purpose, Norwell embarked on this expedition through the rugged coastal landscapes of BC and Alaska. Along the way, he documented his experiences, observations, and daily life in a notebook, accompanied by over 700 whimsical watercolor illustrations of the coastline, local flora and fauna, camping scenes, and encounters with people he met on his journey. In his reflections on solitude, adventure, wildlife encounters, survival skills, and privilege, Norwell shares an unforgettable coming-of-age story that will resonate with kayakers, naturalists and adventure enthusiasts alike.

Katherine Palmer Gordon

Katherine Palmer Gordon’s This Place Is Who We Are: Stories of Indigenous Leadership, Resilience, and Connection to Homelands (Harbour $39.95) showcases Indigenous communities in central and northern coastal BC as they reclaim their connection to their lands and waters, leading to growth and prosperity. The well-being of Indigenous peoples is intricately linked to the health of the land, encompassing physical, social, environmental, economic, spiritual and cultural aspects. Through restoring their lands and healing from colonization, these communities are thriving and rebuilding what has been lost. The book features ten inspiring stories, including X̱aayda voices sharing how Rediscovery camps empower youth; Dzawada̱’enuxw Hereditary Chief Maxwiyalidizi K’odi Nelson’s journey of building a healing center and ecolodge; and Wei Wai Kum Chief Christopher Roberts’s efforts to balance prosperity with environmental protection and cultural preservation.

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Dominique Bernier-Cormier

Entre Rive and Shore (icehouse poetry $19.95) by Dominique Bernier-Cormier is the story of Pierrot Cormier’s escape from a British prison on the eve of the Acadian Deportation, using it as a lens to explore the complexities of living between two languages. Written in a blend of English and French reminiscent of “Chiac,” Bernier-Cormier delves into the fluidity of language and translation. Through a mix of English interpretations of a single French poem, reflections on Acadian history and identity, and musings on the evolution of language and pop culture, the book offers a tapestry of thought-provoking ideas.

Jess Housty

A collection of poems by Jess Housty, Crushed Wild Mint (Nightwood $19.95) highlights themes of land love, ancestral wisdom, and the poet’s personal experiences as a parent and herbalist deeply connected to their homeland. Housty grapples with the natural and supernatural, exploring transformation and the profound connection between bodies and the land. The poems invoke images of blossoms, feathers, and snow, while inviting readers to immerse themselves in sensory experiences. Housty’s writing engages with the mountains, animals, and ancestors of their homeland, offering reflections on history, ceremony, grief, and thriving.

Samantha Nock

Samantha Nock’s debut poetry collection, A Family of Dreamers (Talonbooks $18.95), explores the notion of “home” and the complexities of growing up in rural northeast British Columbia. Nock examines fat liberation, desirability politics, and heartbreak while reflecting on her experiences as a young Indigenous woman coming of age in the city. Through her poems, she celebrates the bonds of family, the nostalgia of northern communities, and the journey of self-discovery.

Bradley Peters

Bradley Peters’ debut poetry collection, Sonnets from a Cell (Brick Books $22.95) takes place in various settings from riots to mall parkades to church, blending elements of inmate speech, prison psychology, skateboard slang and contemporary lyricism. The poems reflect Peters’ own experiences of being “caught between the past and nothing” while also addressing the societal structures that lead many into crime and the loss of their freedom. Drawing on Peters’ personal experiences within the Canadian prison system, the collection serves as both a personal reckoning and a critical examination of the violence- and enforcement-obsessed capitalist and patriarchal cultures.

Cathy Stonehouse

Cathy Stonehouse’s Dream House (Nightwood $19.95) is a long poem divided into six sections that explores the female embodiment through various liminal spaces. From the pregnant body to aging minds, snail shells, broom closets, and abandoned pizza boxes, the poem inhabits surreal and feral landscapes. Stonehouse offers a wry and many-peopled narrative that interrogates the role of metaphor in personal and social history following the passing  her mother. She traces a matrilineal path across four generations while exploring the haunted margins between existence and belonging.

Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes

Helen Knott’s Becoming a Matriarch (Knopf Canada $32.00) is nominated for the second time this year, within this category, as a book that challenges or provokes ideas of what society can become.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

Artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas portrays the turbulent history of first contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples, along with the early colonization of the northern West Coast, in his graphic novel, JAJ: A Haida Manga (D&M $34.95). Through a blend of traditional and modern art, Yahgulanaas utilizes North Pacific iconography to create watercolor paintings that eschew the traditional boxes of comic books. Each page’s panels, when assembled, form a larger image resembling a woven robe. The narrative follows historical figures such as Johan Adrian Jacobsen (JAJ), who visits the Haida village of Masset to collect specimens for a German museum. Spanning from first contact to the devastation of the smallpox epidemic and the mass resettlement of disenfranchised peoples, both Indigenous and European, the story offers a poignant reflection on this tumultuous period in history.

Angela Sterritt

National bestselling and award-winning Gitxsan author and journalist, Angela Sterritt’s Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls (Greystone $34.95) is a memoir and investigative journalism piece, written by drawing from her own experiences as a Gitxsan teenager navigating homelessness and violence. Sterritt intertwines her personal stories with investigative reporting on cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. She sheds light on how colonialism and racism have contributed to a society where Indigenous women and girls are marginalized and their lives undervalued. Despite facing violence and adversity, Sterritt eventually finds a career in journalism and academic success. Throughout her journey, Sterritt remains empathetic towards victims, survivors, and their families, advocating for justice and accountability from the media and the public.

Y-Dang Troeung

In her poignant Landbridge: life in fragments (Alchemy $25.00), Y-Dang Troeung reflects on her family’s journey as Cambodian refugees resettled in Canada in 1980. She revisits the widely documented moment of their arrival, juxtaposing the public narrative of happiness with the hidden truths of her family’s experiences before and after resettlement. Through precise prose, accompanied by moving black-and-white visuals, Y-Dang shares stories of her parents, brothers, and extended family who survived the Cambodian genocide. She also recounts her own childhood in refugee camps and rural Ontario, as well as her experiences as a scholar, a mother, and her battle with a terminal illness.

Lindsay Wong

Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality (Penguin $32.95) by Lindsay Wong, is a collection of stories that challenges the notion of eternal life, revealing that living forever comes with its own set of challenges. The ghosts, zombies and demons depicted in this collection are recognizably human, grappling with vanity, love and tragedy. From a courtesan in 17th century China struggling to die to a grandmother returning from the dead to protect her grandchildren, the stories blur the line between ghost and human, life and death. Set in locations from Shanghai to Vancouver, Wong’s characters haunt, and are haunted by first loves, family members and traumatic memories. Wong intertwines horror, the supernatural, and mythology to critique contemporary life and illuminate the ways in which the past can shape our present.

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

E.G. Alaraj

Written by E.G. Alaraj and illustrated by Martyna Czub, When Stars Arise (Orca $10.95) takes readers on a journey to bedtime. With calming rhythms and repetition, the book encourages children to wind down and snuggle in for the night. From the quieting of the world outside to the warmth of a bath and the coziness of a blanket, the story guides children through a bedtime routine. Dreamy watercolor illustrations enhance the lyrical text, creating a gentle lullaby that helps reinforce the ritual of preparing for sleep.

Kristen Pendreigh

Maybe a Whale (Groundwood Books $21.99) written by Kristen Pendreigh and illustrated by Crystal Smith, follows a girl and her mother embarking on a kayaking trip along the Pacific West Coast after grandpa dies, to search for the whales he loved. Although her mother believes the trip will be beneficial, the girl is uncertain without Grandpa’s presence. As they paddle through the waves and explore the coast, they encounter various marine creatures, but the girl remains hopeful of spotting a whale. Eventually, in the dark of night, they hear the unmistakable sound of humpbacks breathing in the bay. Through this journey, the mother and daughter find solace in nature, grieving for Grandpa and reconnecting with each other.

Jordan Scott

My Baba’s Garden (Neal Porter Books $24.99), written by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith, describes the special bond between a young boy and his grandmother, Baba. Despite the language barrier, they communicate through shared activities like gardening, eating and walking to school. The boy learns the value of food and the importance of caring for others from Baba, whose memories of wartime scarcity influence her perspective. When Baba moves in with the boy and his parents, he gets the opportunity to reciprocate the care she has always shown him.

Maya McKibben

Maya McKibben created the images in The Song That Called Them Home (Tundra Books $18.99), authored by David A. Robertson. It tells the story of Lauren and her little brother James who are thrown overboard while fishing for dinner. When Lauren surfaces she sees her brother being pulled away by the Memekwesewak—creatures who live in and around water and like to interfere with humans. Lauren must follow the Memekwesewak through a portal and along a watery path to find and bring back James. But when she finally comes upon her brother, she too feels the lure of the Memekwesewak’s song. Something even stronger must pull them back home.

Ellen Rooney

What to Bring (Owlkids $21.95), illustrated by Ellen Rooney and authored by Lorna Schultz Nicholson is about a family home about to overtaken by a wildfire. Malia’s Daddy tells her to “Pick small things. Things important to you.” In this story experiencing a natural disaster through the eyes of a child, Malia at first can’t decide as there are so many things she wants: teddy bears, books, pillows and blanket. She finally realizes that the most important things are her little brother, her cat and her dog.

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize

Lara Jean Okihiro

Lara Jean Okihiro’s Obaasan’s Boots (Second Story Press $12.99), co-authored by Janis Bridger, follows cousins Lou and Charlotte, who don’t know a lot about their grandmother’s life. When their Obaasan invites them to spend the day in her garden, she also invites them into their family’s secrets. Grandma shares her experience as a Japanese Canadian during WWII, revealing the painful story of Japanese internment. Her family was forced apart. Whole communities were uprooted, moved into camps, their belongings stolen. Lou and Charlotte struggle with the injustice, even as they marvel at their grandmother’s strength. They begin to understand how their identities have been shaped by racism, and that history is not only about the past.

Polly Horvath

In Polly Horvath’s sequel to Pine Island Home, Pine Island Visitors (Puffin $19.99), the McCready sisters, Fiona, Marlin, Natasha, and Charlie, have been adopted by their guardian, Al, and settled into their new home on Pine Island. However, their peaceful life is disrupted when they receive a visit from Mrs. Weatherspoon, who took care of them after their parents died. Mrs. Weatherspoon arrives with her companion, Jo, who is opinionated and intrusive. As Mrs. Weatherspoon and Jo extend their stay, Fiona and Marlin must find the courage to stand up to them to protect their family’s happiness and well-being.

Wanda John-Kehewin

Hopeless in Hope (HighWater Press $16.95) by Wanda John-Kehewin, follows Eva Brown’s life in the oldest part of Hope. With her mother, Shirley, struggling with alcoholism and her only friend distancing herself, Eva finds solace in her cat, Toofie, her nohkum, and her writing. When her nohkum is hospitalized and her brother sent to foster care, Eva ends up in a group home. As she grapples with her anger towards her mother, she receives Shirley’s diary from her nohkum, hoping it will shed light on their family’s past and help her understand her mother better.

Julie Lawson

Julie Lawson’s Out of the Dark (Nimbus Publishing $14.95) follows Jane Mooney, whose brother, Connor, enlists in the Great War at age fifteen. Her devastation reaches new heights when an explosion in Halifax Harbour on December 6, 1917, destroys their home and kills several family members. Left injured and homeless, Jane must navigate the challenges of starting over, including fitting in at a new school in the prosperous South End. With the onset of the Great Influenza Pandemic after the war, Jane faces even more uncertainty about her family’s safety and wonders if Connor will ever return from the trenches.

Andrea Warner

Rise Up and Sing!: Power, Protest, and Activism in Music (Greystone $26.95) by Andrea Warner, illustrated by Louise Reimer, introduces young teens to the role music plays in activism and social justice. Featuring musicians like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga, as well as iconic artists from past generations such as Nina Simone and Bob Dylan, the book explores how music has contributed to various social justice issues. Each chapter includes a playlist of recommended songs related to an area of activism, from climate change to gender equality. Through stories of ground-breaking artists and iconic moments, the book demonstrates the transformative power of music in shaping social change.

Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award

Sam George

Written by Sam George, with Jill Yonit Goldberg, Liam Belson, Dylan MacPhee, and Tanis Wilson, The Fire Still Burns: Life in and after Residential School (Purich Books $17.94) is a candid account following Sam from his idyllic childhood on the Eslhá7an reserve to the confines of St. Paul’s Indian Residential School and, later, a life of addiction and incarceration. Despite the horrors he endured, Sam retained his humor and dignity, finding strength in his culture to face his past. The book explores the long-term effects of the Indian Residential School system on survivors and illustrates the healing power of culture and resilience in rebuilding a life and a future.

Poet Jess Housty is nominated for the second time this year, within this category, for her book Crushed Wild Mint (Nightwood $19.95).

Francine McCabe

Fleece and Fibre: Textile Producers of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (Heritage $34.95) by Francine McCabe explores small-scale textile farms along the Salish Sea, highlighting their essential role in sustainable textile production and the Slow Fashion movement. The book delves into the unique geographical region of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, which can grow and process raw textile materials. Through photography, it showcases various fiber types produced in the region, including sheep wool, llama, alpaca, mohair, linen, flax, and hemp, detailing their cultivation, processing and usage. As the global textile industry faces sustainability challenges, this book serves as both a sourcebook and a call to action, fostering connections between farmers, makers, designers and consumers seeking local alternatives to fast fashion.

Author Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is nominated for the second time this year, within this category, for his book JAJ: A Haida Manga (D&M $34.95).

Henry Tsang

Henry Tsang is nominated for his book, White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver (Arsenal Pulp Press $32.95), which recounts the anti-Asian riots of 1907 in Vancouver, examining the historical context and contemporary relevance. A demonstration and parade organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League in that year led to a mob attack on the city’s Chinese Canadian and Japanese Canadian communities, reflecting the systemic racism of the era. The book, based on the 360 Riot Walk by Henry Tsang, combines colorized photographs of the riots with contemporary images of Vancouver. Essays written by Tsang and others, explore the colonial backdrop of the riots and ongoing issues faced by racialized communities in North America today.

 

 

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