1997 Winners & Finalists
May 17 | hosted by Susan Musgrave
Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
Winner! The Cure for Death by Lightning
by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
The Cure for Death by Lightning takes place in the poor farming community of Turtle Valley, BC, in the shadow of World War II. Fifteen-year-old Beth Weeks’s life is full of strange happenings: a classmate is mauled to death, children go missing on the nearby reserve, and an unseen predator pursues Beth. Her domineering, shellshocked father has fits of madness, and her mother frequently talks to the dead. Beth, meanwhile, must wrestle with her newfound sexuality in a harsh world. Then, in a violent storm, she is struck by lightning in her arm, and nothing is quite the same. Gail Anderson-Dargatz has recently moved home to BC’s Shuswap-Thompson area. More
Cereus Blooms at Night
by Shani Mootoo
Cereus Blooms at Night unveils the mystery surrounding Mala Ramchandin and the tempestuous history of her family. At the heart of this bold and seductive novel is an alleged crime committed many years before the story opens. Mala is the reclusive old woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the Paradise Alms House after a judge finds her unfit to stand trial. When she arrives at her new home she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a vivacious nurse, who becomes her unlikely confidante and the storyteller of Mala’s extraordinary life. In luminous, sensual prose, internationally acclaimed writer Shani Mootoo combines diverse storytelling traditions to explore identity, gender, and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love. More
The Venetian’s Wife
by Nick Bantock
Thoroughly bored with her job at the local museum, Sarah Wolfe heads to the gallery to take another look at that new drawing, the one of the Hindu god Shiva, and that’s when it all begins. The next day, an e-mail message brings her a job offer. She is to find the few remaining pieces of a fifteenth-century adventurer’s collection of Indian sculptures. Her employer, curiously, wishes to communicate only by computer. She has no idea who he is or why he wants her, but other mysteries soon preoccupy her. The Venetian’s Wife is a richly illustrated tale of a relentless quest, an amorous legacy, and the resonating power of art. Nick Bantock is best known for his Griffin and Sabine Trilogy, an artful representation of a long-distance romance.
Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
Winner! O-bon in Chimunesu: A Community Remembered
by Catherine Lang
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp
O-Bon in Chimunesu: A Community Remembered is a moving tribute to a community of Japanese-Canadians and the ways they lived their lives. During the Second World War, Japanese-Canadians on the West Coast were shunted off to internment camps in the BC Interior, and were not permitted to return until 1949. Most decided to take up new roots elsewhere and what had been a significant community in Chemainus was relegated to memory. Catherine Lang attended a 1991 reunion of Chemainus’ former Japanese-Canadian community. The reunion occurred during O-bon, the annual Buddhist festival for the dead, in which burning candles light the way for the souls of ancestors. O-Bon in Chimunesu consists of poignant personal narratives of former residents of Chemainus’ Japanese-Canadian community. Lang is a freelance writer who lives in Victoria, BC.
Clara and Me
by Deanna Kawatski
Publisher: Whitecap Books
Set on a remote homestead in British Columbia, this is the true story of how two very different women formed a lifelong friendship. Deanna Kawatski reveals her longing for female companionship, her initial awkwardness with her mentally challenged new neighbor, Clara, and her delight in their evolving friendship. Kawatski is also the author of the bestselling Wilderness Mother.
I Have Lived Here Since the World Began: An Illustrated History of Canada’s Native People
by Arthur J. Ray
Publisher: Key Porter/Lester
This is history on a grand scale, synthesizing 10,000+ years of Native-Canadian economic life into a form that is accessible to a general readership. Arthur J. Ray shows that, since the first contact, white economic policy consistently reflected a dedicated purpose to marginalize Aboriginal people and destroy their cultures. Through an examination of the modern fur trade, the industrial fishery, and western agricultural policy, Ray shows how Natives were systematically disenfranchised and not allowed to compete in the marketplace on equal terms with entrepreneurs and settlers. This excellent work will be an “eye-opener” for many; with it, the mistaken belief that Canada has not actively oppressed First Nations might finally be put to rest. Arthur J. Ray is a history professor at UBC.
Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Winner! The Unhinging of Wings
by Margo Button
Publisher: Oolichan Books
Chronicling the struggles of being the mother of a child with schizophrenia, The Unhinging of Wings is Margot Button’s account of life with her son, Randall. Perhaps an exercise in maintaining her own sanity, the poems in the book follow five years (from the diagnosis to when Randall committed suicide) with sensitivity, love, and delicate emotion. Button now lives in Nanoose Bay, BC. The Unhinging of Wings was made into a stage performance by Welcome Wood Productions in Kingston, Ontario in May 1998.
by Marilyn Bowering
Publisher: Beach Holme
Autobiography muses on the fluid nature of Self—its origins, its transience, and its evolution in combination with the natural world, the soul, and the community. Marilyn Bowering’s vision and explorations appeal to anyone who loves to think, feel, and create. Bowering’s work Visible Worlds won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 1997.
Seeing in the Dark
by Joyce Nelson
Publisher: Ekstasis Editions
Seeing in the Dark reveals those moments when we are poised between innocence and knowing, memory and forgetfulness, baptism and redemption—those moments of wonder we find beyond whatever hurts us. Born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1945, Joyce Nelson now lives in Victoria, BC and is a cultural critic and author. More
Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize
Winner! The Fraser River
by Alan Haig-Brown, Rick Blacklaws
Publisher: Harbour Publishing
Magnificent, exhilarating, and treacherous, the Fraser is one of the world’s great rivers. In this spectacular full-colour book, Alan Haig-Brown and Rick Blacklaws share their longtime fascination with all 850 miles of the largest salmon-spawning river on Earth, the longest and most powerful un-dammed river in North America, and one of British Columbia’s most breathtakingly beautiful scenic wonders. Haig-Brown and Blacklaws document the wildlife and landforms of the Fraser system, as well as the full spectrum of vigorous human life on the river—the mills and marinas, ocean liners and gillnetters, houseboats and fish wheels. Alan Haig-Brown’s many jobs have included fisher, educator, and editor. He serves as the West Coast editor for Professional Mariner magazine. Rick Blacklaws studied archaeology and is a photographer in BC. More
British Columbia: A Natural History
by Richard Cannings, Sydney Cannings
This award-winning book provides a review of the province’s physical and natural environments. Written for the interested layperson, it describes the natural history of British Columbia by ecological region. This edition presents new information about the geological formation of the province. There are also new discussions of such topics as avalanches and fire, including information about the devastating fires of the summer of 2003. Sydney Cannings is a zoologist working of the Government of BC. Richard Cannings teaches ecology at UBC. More
Landscapes of the Interior
by Don Gayton
Publisher: New Society
Landscapes of the Interior is an eloquent antidote to the separation that people feel between themselves and nature. Its seventeen essays take the reader on a unique journey that plumbs the depths of the human connection with nature. Traversing natural landscapes as diverse as the tall-grass prairie, the semi-desert Okanagan, and the mountains of British Columbia, Landscapes of the Interior spans the scientific, the poetic, and the spiritual. Captivating and impassioned, Don Gayton’s stories reach out to us in original ways, reminding us of how nature can be an intense source of spirituality and renewal. Gayton is a respected ecologist whose writings have also recieved a Canadian Science Writer Award and a Canadian Forest Service’s Journalism Award.
Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
Winner! Back of Beyond
by Sarah Ellis
Not everything that happens in the world is easy to explain, as the characters in this collection of short stories quickly discover. Kenton, for instance, is just going about his babysitting business when the strangest thing he could imagine happens. Aidan’s not much luckier: his Internet surfing gets him into trouble one strange evening. And Rita has a supernatural experience right after she gets her driver’s licence and goes for her first ride on her own - or so she thinks. Back of Beyond is an extraordinary collection of short stories that offers a rare glimpse into another world. Sarah Ellis is an accomplished young adult author.
Awake and Dreaming
by Kit Pearson
Publisher: Penguin Books
Theo has a difficult life. She and her young mother, Rae, live in poverty in Vancouver; sometimes they are so broke that they have to beg on the streets. Rae is an unfit mother and sometimes she hits her daughter. Theo, however, has two escapes: books and her imagination. Theo dreams of belonging to a “real” family, and her dream seems to come true when she is mysteriously adopted by the large, warm Kaldor family. She wishes on the new moon that she could belong to them forever and the next thing she knows, she does! It seems like magic, until the terrible day that the magic starts to fade. Kit Pearson was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Awake and Dreaming. More
Sarah and the People of Sand River
by W. D. Valgardson
Illustrated by Ian Wallace
Raised by her Icelandic-speaking father in a remote part of Lake Winnipeg in the early 1900s, motherless Sarah is sent to the city when she turns twelve. She is supposed to be learning English, but, entrusted to the care of ruthless Mrs. Simpson, she becomes a virtual slave. But kind strangers intervene; they turn out to be the ghosts of Cree Indians whom Sarah’s immigrant grandparents nursed during a deadly smallpox epidemic some forty years before. W. D. Valgardson is the author of thirteen books. Ian Wallace is an accomplished illustrator.
BC Booksellers' Choice Award in Honour of Bill Duthie
Winner! British Columbia: A Natural History
by Richard Cannings, Sydney Cannings
This award-winning book provides a review of the province’s physical and natural environments. Written for the interested layperson, it describes the natural history of British Columbia by ecological region. This edition presents new information about the geological formation of the province. There are also new discussions of such topics as avalanches and fires, including information about the devastating fires of the summer of 2003. Sydney Cannings is a zoologist working with the Government of BC. Richard Cannings teaches ecology at UBC. More
Over Beautiful British Columbia: An Aerial Adventure
by Bruce Obee
Publisher: Beautiful British Columbia Magazine
Discover Canada’s Pacific province through the lenses of our most outstanding photographers as they present an aerial portfolio of BC as it was on the threshold of this new millennium. Over Beautiful British Columbia: An Aerial Adventure is precisely what the title implies: an eagle-eye’s view of the familiar and extraordinary in a province known throughout the world for its diverse and scenic landscapes. Produced in association with Beautiful British Columbia Magazine; Bruce Obee, award-winning writer; Tony Owen, photographer and magazine publisher; and Russ Heinl, pioneer aerial photographer, this is a book of outstanding quality.
Sailing Back in Time
by Maria Coffey
Publisher: Whitecap Books
Maria Coffey and Dag Goering embark on a three-month journey by wooden boat along Canada’s spectacular West Coast. Leading the way are legendary boat builders and sailors Allen and Sharie Farrell on their last voyage aboard the China Cloud. Powered only by wind and sculling oars, they take Coffey and Goering to their old haunts, places where they homesteaded, fished, and built boats. Years roll away as the Farrells recount decades of memories with passion, insight, and humour. Maria Coffey and Dag Goering are partners in business and in life.