THE 7TH ANNUAL B.C. BOOK PRIZES went downscale and upbeat. Hosted by Chuck Davis in an East Vancouver Chinese restaurant, the May 10th affair produced a two time winner, Audrey Thomas, a surprise winner, Jeff Derksen and a little known winner, Nancy Hundal. The overall winner was the writing/ publishing community, most of whom had requested a change from the increasing formality of the event. "I certainly like the venue," said Alan Haig-Brown, who also praised" the people trying to achieve some sanity in this province of ours, a province run by people without education, taste or integrity." Haig-Brown then awarded the B.C. regional prize named after his father, Haig-Brown then awarded the B.C. regional prize - named after his father Roderick Haig-Brown to UBC's Paul Tennant for Aboriginal Peoples and Politics (UBC Press), a comprehensive study of B.C. Native issues. In his acceptance speech, Tennant drew attention to another well-received B.C. book on native land claims, Terry Glavin's A Death Feast in Dimlahamid; then he thanked new UBC Press director Peter Milroy for his foresight in releasing the academic book as a trade title. The winner of the Hubert Evans NonFiction Prize was Scott Watson for his critical study, Jack Shad bolt (Douglas & McIntyre), thereby keeping alive D&M's remarkable streak of winning at least one B.C: Book Prize each year since 1985 (if Paul Yee's winning book last year from D&M's Groundwood in Ontario can be included in the list). Michael Kluckner, winner of this year's Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice for Vanishing Vancouver (Whitecap), warned that more destruction of heritage architecture is likely to continue in B.C. He then thanked two of his most stalwart supporters in the B.C. book industry, Keith Sacre and Sally Mallucci. Similarly Nancy Hundal thanked agent Nancy Colbert and her daughter Melanie "whose enthusiasm for this book has never waned," in accepting the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for her children's book, I Heard My Mother Call My Name (HarperCollins.) "I'm certainly surprised to win," said Jeff Derksen, recipient of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for his first collection, Down Time (Talonbooks). A former production editor of Talonbooks and editor of Writing magazine, Jeff Derksen thanked David Thompson University, Caroline Woodward and the Kootenay School of Writing. Audrey Thomas first won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her novel Intertidal Life in 1985. In accepting the prize this year from Ethel Wilson's biographer and friend, Mary McAlpine for Wild Blue Yonder (Penguin), Thomas said, "It's really nice to win a prize in your own province."

Typifying the tone of camaraderie that ruled the event, Thomas recalled applying to bookseller Bill Duthie for credit in her early days in B.C. whereupon Duthie granted her credit as soon as he knew she was a writer, even though Thomas had very little money at the time. The best one-liner of the evening came from emcee Chuck Davis who suggested that the next book about former premier Bill Vander Zalm ought to be titled" A Piece of Cake." The event was successfully managed by a 17-member volunteer committee including president Jan Renouf, first vice-president Audrey McClellan, second vice-president Wendy Atkinson and treasurer Terri Wershler.

Other nominees for the- Bill Duthie Prize were Jack Webster for Webster! (D&M) and Jim Spilsbury for Spilsbury's Album (Harbour). Jim Spilsbury has been nominated three times for three books in seven years, but has yet to receive a prize. Also nominated for the poetry prize were bill bissett for hard 2 beleev (Talonbooks) and Phyllis Webb for Hanging Fire (Coach House). Caroline Woodward's Disturbing the Peace (Polestar) and SKY Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe (D&M) were runners-up in the fiction category. Sue Ann Alderson's Chapter One (General) and Celia King's The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World (Raincoast) were also kidlit finalists. Other nominees for the Hubert Evans Prize were Terry Glavin for A Death Feast in Dimlahamid (New Star) and Paul Tennant for Aboriginal Peoples and Politics. Tennant was also nominated for the Haig-Brown Prize, along with Cyril E. Leonoff for An Enterprising Life: Leonard Frank Photographs 1895-1944 (Talonbooks). Of the 39 B.C. Book Prizes awarded since 1985, 26 have been won by books published in B.C.

[BCBW 1991] "Book Prizes";