The following has been excerpted from City of Vancouver Cultural Services.
Five books that demonstrate excellence and reflect Vancouver’s unique character, rich diversity and culture, history and residents have been selected as finalists for the annual City of Vancouver Book Award.
The books, all published in 2021, cover a range of genres and explore many of the City’s social and cultural issues such as displacement, homelessness, migration and colonization. These titles also focus on connection and what it means to belong to land, community, self and place.
The awards will be presented at an in-person event as part of the 2022 Vancouver Writers Fest on Friday, October 21. More details to be announced soon.
The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:
Meghan Bell for Erase and Rewind (Book*hug Press) The stories in Erase and Rewind probe the complexities of living as a woman in a skewed society. Told from the perspective of various female protagonists, they pick at rape culture, sexism in the workplace, uneven romantic and platonic relationships, and the impact of trauma under late-stage capitalism. Bell’s debut collection is a highwire balance of levity and gravity, finding the extraordinary in common experiences.
Henry Doyle for No Shelter (Anvil Press) These down to earth poems take readers on a hard-scrabble journey, starting from Doyle’s early years as a runaway from foster homes, an incarcerated youth, a boxer, and a homeless wage-earner living in shelters and on the streets of Ottawa and Toronto, to his eventual arrival in Vancouver to work in the construction labour pools before landing work as a custodian and maintenance man.
Karen Duffek, Bill McLennan, and Jordan Wilson for Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art (Figure 1 Publishing) This is a landmark volume that brings together over eighty contemporary Indigenous knowledge holders with extraordinary works of historical Northwest Coast art. First Nations Elders, artists, scholars, and other community members visited the Museum of Anthropology to connect with these objects, learn from the hands of their ancestors, and share their thoughts and insights.
Grace Eiko Thomson for Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms (Caitlin Press) A vital memoir by two Japanese Canadian women reflecting on their family history, cultural heritage, generational trauma, and the meaning of home. At eight years old, Grace Eiko Nishikihama was forcibly removed from her Vancouver home and interned with her parents and siblings in the BC Interior. This is a moving and politically outspoken memoir written by Grace, now a grandmother, with passages from a journal kept by her late mother, Sawae Nishikihama.
Paul Wong, Debbie Cheung, and Christopher Lee for Occupying Chinatown(On Main) Occupying Chinatown focuses on several of Wong’s major artworks exploring Chinese Canadian identity and his engagement with Vancouver’s Chinese communities. With full colour photos and documentation of Wong’s artwork as well as three original essays, Occupying Chinatown is an evocative exploration of language, amnesia, and cultural displacement, inspired by 900 letters sent to Suk-Fong Wong, Paul Wong’s mother, over the course of 65 years.
The finalists were chosen by an independent selection panel comprising Allan Cho, Kim Koch, and Shazia Hafiz Ramji.
The City of Vancouver Book Award has been recognizing authors of excellence of any genre since 1989. More details on the award, including previous award recipients and shortlisted authors is available online.