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BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022 Winners Announced

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The West Coast Book Prize Society is thrilled to announce the winners of the 38th annual BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Prizes are awarded annually to recognize the achievements of BC and Yukon authors, illustrators and publishers. Award winners are selected through a juried system, with five finalists in each prize category, including the winner selected in each prize category.

More information about the GG's and Canada Council for the Arts can be found on the BC and Yukon Book Prizes website.

We hope you enjoy these books! Please check out all the 2022 nominations we have in our collection, as well as wonderful books from previous years: 2021, 2020.

BC and Yukon Book Prizes 2022

Here is the list of the 2022 BC and Yukon Book Prizes winners:

Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness (Viking/Penguin Random House Canada)

Accessible versions are available from the publisher. Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

A brilliantly inventive new novel about loss, growing up, and learning to take charge of one's life, by the Booker Prize-finalist author of A Tale for the Time Being. Benny Oh is a fourteen year-old boy living in the Pacific Northwest who, shortly after his father dies, begins to hear voices. The voices belong to all the things around him, speaking. He doesn't understand what they are saying, but he can sense their emotional tone; many are angry and full of pain. Benny's voice-hearing is heightened because his depressed and lonely mother, Anabelle, is a hoarder. The first voices Benny hears belong to the things in Annabelle's growing hoard, but soon he is hearing voices not just at home, but on the street and at school. When he can't escape the voices, he starts to talk back to them. People begin to think he is mentally ill. Benny escapes to the public library whenever he can, and slowly a strange new world opens up to him as he gets to know its denizens. He meets and falls in love with a nineteen year-old freegan installation artist named 'The Aleph,' who introduces him to the 'Bottleman,' an older, homeless, Slovenian poet in a wheelchair who also hears voices. Benny discovers there are special places in the Library, anomalous or paranormal locations where 'things' happen. As the novel unfolds, Benny's attempt to deal with the voices and figure out what is real escalates as his mother faces eviction and custody issues, as both struggle to remake themselves and find their own power and agency. With its blend of sympathetic characters, a strong forward-moving plot, and a vigorous engagement with everything from our attachment to material possessions to the climate crisis, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki--brilliant, playful, poignant, humane, and heartbreaking.

Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize

Jordan Abel, NISHGA (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada)

Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

From Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel comes a groundbreaking and emotionally devastating autobiographical meditation on the complicated legacies that Canada's reservation school system has cast on his grandparents', his parents' and his own generation. NISHGA is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence. As a Nisga'a writer, Jordan Abel often finds himself in a position where he is asked to explain his relationship to Nisga'a language, Nisga'a community, and Nisga'a cultural knowledge. However, as an intergenerational survivor of residential school--both of his grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack, British Columbia--his relationship to his own Indigenous identity is complicated to say the least. NISHGA explores those complications and is invested in understanding how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted his grandparents' generation, then his father's generation, and ultimately his own. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous. Drawing on autobiography, a series of interconnected documents (including pieces of memoir, transcriptions of talks, and photography), NISHGA is a book about confronting difficult truths and it is about how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples engage with a history of colonial violence that is quite often rendered invisible.

Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Henry Doyle, No Shelter (Anvil Press)

Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

Infused with the spirit of Charles Bukowski, 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. Doyle’s potent combination of gritty realism, weary wisdom, and wry humour make No Shelter an unforgettable collection.

Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize

Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie and Nancy J. Turner, Luschiim’s Plants: Traditional Indigenous Foods, Materials and Medicine (Harbour Publishing)

Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

In this unprecedented collection of botanical information, over 140 plants are categorized within their broad botanical groupings: algae and seaweeds, lichens, fungi and mushrooms, mosses and liverworts, ferns and fern-allies, coniferous trees, deciduous trees, shrubs and vines, and herbaceous flowering plants. Each entry is illustrated with a colour photo and includes the plant’s common, scientific and Hul′q′umi′num′ names; a short description; where to find it; and cultural knowledge related to the plant. Additional notes encompass plant use, safety and conservation; the linguistic writing system used for Hul′q′umi′num′ plant names; as well as miscellaneous notes from interviews with Luschiim.

Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize

Robbie Waisman with Susan McClelland, Boy from Buchenwald: The True Story of a Holocaust Survivor (Bloomsbury)

Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

A powerful memoir about a Holocaust survivor who was deemed hopeless--and the rehabilitation center that gave him and other teen boys the chance to learn how to live again.

Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize

Julie Morstad, Time is a Flower (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada)

Please request this book from your local public library. If you can't find it, please contact us.

An imaginative picture book that combines nature and play to talk about the passage of time.

Jim Deva Prize for Writing that Provokes

Harsha Walia, Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (Fernwood Publishing)

Available from NNELS in EPUB 3 and e-text.

In Border and Rule, one of North America's foremost thinkers and immigrant rights organizers delivers an unflinching examination of migration as a pillar of global governance and gendered racial class formation. Harsha Walia disrupts easy explanations for the migrant and refugee crises, instead showing them to be the inevitable outcomes of conquest, capitalist globalization, and climate change generating mass dispossession worldwide. Border and Rule explores a number of seemingly disparate global geographies with shared logics of border rule that displace, immobilize, criminalize, exploit, and expel migrants and refugees. With her keen ability to connect the dots, Walia demonstrates how borders divide the international working class and consolidate imperial, capitalist, ruling-class, and racist nationalist rule. Ambitious in scope and internationalist in orientation, Border and Rule breaks through American exceptionalism and liberal responses to the migration crisis and cogently maps the lucrative connections between state violence, capitalism, and right-wing nationalism around the world. Illuminating the brutal mechanics of state formation, Walia exposes US border policy as a product of violent territorial expansion, settler-colonialism, enslavement, and gendered racial exclusion. Further, she compellingly details how Fortress Europe and White Australia are using immigration diplomacy and externalized borders to maintain a colonial present, how temporary labor migration in the Arab Gulf states and Canada is central to citizenship regulation and labor control, and how far-right nationalism is escalating deadly violence in the United States, Israel, India, the Philippines, Brazil, and across Europe, while producing a disaster of statelessness for millions elsewhere. A must-read in these difficult times of war, inequality, climate change, and global health crisis, Border and Rule is a clarion call for revolution. The book includes a foreword from renowned scholar Robin D. G. Kelley and an afterword from acclaimed activist-academic Nick Estes.

Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award

Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (Allen Lane Canada/Penguin Random House)

Available from NNELS in MP3.

From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she's been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron's Avatar ) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths-that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes-in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies-and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey-of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.


In addition to the eight awards for the annual prize categories, two awards were also awarded to writers for their body of work and contributions to the literary community:

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence: Audrey Thomas

The recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence will be recognized as having written a substantial body of literary work throughout their career and contributed significantly to the literary community/industry of the Province of British Columbia.

Audrey Thomas is the author of a number of highly praised novels, including, Intertidal Life, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. She has also written short story collections and radio dramas in a career that has spanned four decades. Thomas has won three Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes, and has been awarded multiple honours from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. In 2008, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Borealis Prize: The Commissioner of Yukon Award for Literary Contribution: Tara Borin

The recipient of the Borealis Prize will be recognized as having spent significant time living and working among the writing community in Yukon and made substantial contributions to the Yukon writing and publishing community through writing, publishing, community organizing, Indigenous writing and storytelling, or in many other ways.

Tara Borin is the author of the debut poetry collection The Pit. A graduate of SFU's The Writers' Studio, Borin is engaged in supporting and growing word arts in Yukon. They are a board member for Yukon Words, and have worked with the Federation of BC Writers. Having worked closely with mentors through The Writers' Studio and the writing community in Yukon, Borin teaches workshops and hosts readings for authors sharing opportunities and knowledge with other writers.

These prize-winning authors and publishers were honoured at the 38th annual BC and Yukon Book Prizes Gala, which was held at the University Golf Club in Vancouver. The ceremony was hosted by poet Jillian Christmas

The BC and Yukon Book Prizes were established in 1985 to celebrate the achievements of BC and Yukon writers and publishers. The prizes are administered and awarded by a non-profit society that represents all facets of the publishing and writing community. The West Coast Book Prize Society congratulates all the winners!