We love the BC Book Prizes here at AbeBooks. Granted, we’re a bit biased, given that we make our headquarters in British Columbia’s capital city (Victoria). But the prizes really are something special, highlighting the best written talent this beautiful province has to offer in seven categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, regional, children’s literature, illustrated children’s literature, and booksellers’ choice. It’s now been 10 years that AbeBooks has been a proud sponsor of the prizes, in the Hubert Evans Award for Non-fiction category, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be along for the ride.
This year’s winners show that talent in Beautiful British Columbia is shining just as brightly as ever:
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize winner: The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-1975 by Geoff Meggs, Rod Mickleburgh
From 1972-1975, Premier Dave Barrett and his team passed more legislation in a shorter time than any government before or since. A university or college student graduating today in BC may have been born years after Barrett’s defeat, but could attend a Barrett daycare, live on a farm in Barrett’s Agricultural Land Reserve, be rushed to hospital in a provincial ambulance created by Barrett’s government and attend college in a community institution founded by his government. The continuing polarization of BC politics also dates back to Barrett—the Fraser Institute and the right-wing economic policies it preaches are as much a legacy of the Barrett years as the ALR. Dave Barrett remains a unique and important figure in BC’s history, a symbol of how much can be achieved in government and a reminder of how quickly those achievements can be forgotten.
Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize winner: The World by Bill Gaston
A recently divorced, early retiree accidentally burns down his house on the day he pays off the mortgage, only to discover that he’s forgotten to pay his insurance premium. An old friend of his prepares for her suicide to end the pain of esophageal cancer. Her father ends his days in a Toronto facility for Alzheimer’s patients. The three are tied together by their bonds of affection and a book called The World, written by the old man in his youth. The book, possibly biographical, tells the story of a historian who unearths a cache of letters, written in Chinese, in an abandoned leper colony off the coast of Victoria. He and the young Chinese translator fall in love, only to betray each other in the cruellest way possible, each violating what the other reveres most.
Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize winner: Geographies of a Lover by Sarah de Leeuw
Drawing inspiration from such works as Pauline Réage’s The Story of O and Marian Engel’s Bear, poet Sarah de Leeuw uses the varied landscape of Canada—from the forests of North Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, and all the way to the Maritimes—to map the highs and lows of an explicit and raw sexual journey, from earliest infatuation to insatiable obsession and beyond.
Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize winner: British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas by Derek Hayes
Over 900 maps tell the story of the planners, schemers, gold seekers and fur traders who built BC. When gold was discovered in quantity in 1858, leading to the gold rush that created BC, the interior of the province was mostly unknown except for the routes blazed by fur traders. Thirteen years later, BC became a province of Canada, and a transcontinental railway was built to connect the land west of the Rocky Mountains with the rest of the country. The efforts of these explorers, fur traders, gold seekers and railway builders involved the production of maps that showed what they had found and what they proposed to do—the plans and the strategies that created the province we know today. Master map historian Derek Hayes continues his renowned Historical Atlas Series with a richly rewarding treasure trove, bringing to light the dramatic history of BC.
Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize winner: Middle of Nowhere by Caroline Adderson
When his mother doesn’t return from her all-night job at the local gas bar, Curtis must keep her absence a secret and look after himself and his five-year old brother, Artie. He knows exactly what will happen if any of the teachers find out the truth. He remembers his last foster home all too clearly. But when it all becomes too much for him to handle, Curtis and Artie befriend Mrs. Burt, the cranky, lonely old lady across the street. When the authorities start to investigate, Mrs. Burt and the boys abscond to her remote cabin by the lake. At the lake, the boys’ days are filled with wood-chopping, outhouse-building, fishing, swimming and Mrs. Burt’s wonderful cooking. But then the weather grows colder, and Mrs. Burt seems to be preparing to spend the winter at the cabin. Have they really all just absconded to the lake for a summer holiday? Or have the two boys been kidnapped?
Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize winner: Maggie’s Chopsticks by Alan Woo Poor Maggie struggles to master her chopsticks — it seems nearly everyone around the dinner table has something to say about the “right” way to hold them! But when Father reminds her not to worry about everyone else, Maggie finally gets a grip on an important lesson.
Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award winner: Making Headlines: 100 Years of The Vancouver Sun by Shelley Fralic, with research by Kate Bird
This book is a celebration of The Vancouver Sun‘s first 100 years. It tells the story of Vancouver and the world through the eyes of a newspaper. Decade by decade, it provides fascinating stories from the sinking of the Titanic (just two months after its first issue), through wars, riots, parades, Royal visits and the Olympic Games. Filled with stunning images shot by The Sun‘s award winning photographers, it celebrates all that the newspaper has been, all that it is and all that it will continue to be as The Sun continues to offer all of us that first draft of history.
The winners were announced at a gala dinner at Government House in Victoria on May 4th. Congratulations to the winners, and to all the nominees.