At the 26th annual Book Prizes gala Andrew Scott, who took home a much-deserved Haig-Brown Prize for best book about B.C., compared his massive research project about 5,000 coastal places to being chased down a slope by a gigantic, growing snowball in a cartoon.
The most moving speech was made by Dean Griffiths accepting the Harris Prize for an illustrated children’s book. He recalled coming to terms with the physical abnormalities of his much-loved newborn daughter, having just illustrated the winning story about a character who must overcome negative responses to a newly adopted sister who is deemed ugly by school mates.
The punchiest political statement came from triple nominee Brian Brett, winner of the Duthie Booksellers’ Award, in response to recent cutbacks in B.C. arts support. Brett recalled that during World War II, when money was scarce for the war effort, a cabinet member suggested to Winston Churchill government funding for the arts should be decreased, whereupon Winnie replied, “Then what are we fighting for?”
The most amusing remarks came from BCTF president Irene Lanzinger, a math teacher who presented the Livesay Prize. She joked that she was responsible for making many students turn towards the arts.
Carrie Mac, a paramedic by trade, told the audience her Egoff-winning novel was inspired by tending to a man who had his ear rubbed off by the highway during a motorcycle accident.
Livesay winner Fred Wah praised B.C.’s teachers as the “word warriors” on the front lines of literature.
Evans winner Lorna Crozier praised and thanked her publisher Rob Sanders, as did Brian Brett. And Persky, from Berlin, sent a message praising B.C. publishers as cultural heroes, citing Rolf Maurer of New Star Books in particular.
Host Shelagh Rogers opened the evening by recalling her first literary interview for an Ontario radio station. She was asked to talk to someone named Timothy Findley who had won a Governor General’s Award. During their on-air conversation she was surprised to learn he was a novelist. She had presumed this Findley must have won some sort of military citation.
Accepting the LG Award on behalf of Stan Persky, Terry Glavin closed the evening by noting it was the first time in the award’s seven-year history that it went to a “mainlander.” All six previous recipients have lived on Vancouver Island or one of the Gulf Islands.
Emceed by Shelagh Rogers, and hosted by The Honourable Lieutenant Governor Steven L. Point at Government House in Victoria, the BC Book Prizes gala on April 24 produced the following winners.
ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
(Supported by Friesens and Webcom)
Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison
by Cathleen With (Penguin Group Canada)
RODERICK HAIG-BROWN REGIONAL PRIZE
Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names: A Complete Reference to Coastal British Columbia by Andrew Scott (Harbour Publishing)
HUBERT EVANS NON-FICTION PRIZE
(Supported by Abebooks)
Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir
by Lorna Crozier (Greystone Books)
BILL DUTHIE BOOKSELLERS’ CHOICE AWARD
(Supported by the Duthie family and independent B.C. bookstores)
Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life
by Brian Brett (Greystone Books)
DOROTHY LIVESAY POETRY PRIZE
(Supported by the BC Teachers' Federation)
is a door by Fred Wah (Talonbooks)
SHEILA A. EGOFF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE PRIZE
(Supported by the BC Library Association)
The Gryphon Project by Carrie Mac (Penguin Group Canada)
CHRISTIE HARRIS ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN'S LITERATURE PRIZE (Supported by Kate Walker and Company)
Maggie Can’t Wait by Frieda Wishinsky; illustrated by Dean Griffiths (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR’S AWARD FOR LITERARY EXCELLENCE. Recipient: Stan Persky