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Double win for Chuck Davis at 2012 BC Book Prizes


The BC Book Prizes were handed out in Vancouver on Saturday evening. Victoria’s Esi Edugyan, who has probably built an extension to house all her trophies, won the fiction prize for Half-Blood Blues – a novel about jazz musicians in Germany. She had already won the Giller Prize, been shortlisted for the Booker Prize and is still a contender for the forthcoming Orange Prize. This novel has taken her around the world so it’s good to see her being recognized on her home turf.

Charlotte Gill picked up the AbeBooks-sponsored non fiction prize for Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe. It’s a book written from Charlotte’s 17 years as a tree planter and it goes deep into the province’s logging industry.

The late Chuck Davis, who died in November 2010, was a double winner. His book,  The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, won the regional prize and the booksellers’ choice award.

The book had to be completed after his death by Harbour Publishing and can be called Davis’ magnum opus. It looks at 125 years of life in Vancouver and more than 10,000 copies of the book have been sold. The first two printings sold out in a matter of weeks. It charts the city’s growth from a ramshackle outpost to a huge sprawling city that hosted the Winter Olympics.

John Pass won the poetry prize for crawlspace. Sara O’Leary (writer) and Julie Morstad (illustrator) took home the  illustrated children’s literature prize for When I was Small. Moira Young won the children’s literature prize for Blood Red Road.

Salt Spring Island’s Brian Brett won the  B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Award for literary excellence. His latest book is Trauma Farm but his literary career goes back to the late 1960s.

There were two books that didn’t win but particularly caught my eye. Fred Herzog’s epic Photographs is an amazing book of photography showing Vancouver in the 1950s. Like Chuck Davis, he shows how the city has changed. Herzog primarily looks at the working classes and his images contrast to the perception of Vancouver today as a wealthy metropolitan city. I also like the look of Robert Wiersema’s non-fiction book, Walk Like A Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen – Robert is a versatile writer with two well received novels to his name already.

The B.C. Book Prizes is organised by the West Coast Book Prize Society. Thanks to everyone who put in lots of hard work on these awards.

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Richard Davies

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