VANCOUVER – The shortlist for the British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, one of Canada’s largest literary awards, was announced today by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Keith Mitchell, chair of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation.
Spotlighting exceptional achievements by Canadian writers, the finalists for the $25,000 prize are Rebecca Godfrey for Under the Bridge, J.B. MacKinnon for Dead Man in Paradise, John Terpstra for The Boys, or Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter, and John Vaillant for The Golden Spruce.
“The British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction recognizes the tremendous importance of the genre in our national literature,” said Campbell. “Canadian non-fiction captures the drama of our history, and provokes discussion of ideas that will shape our future.”
“It is a privilege to be able to offer this award,” said Mitchell. “Canada’s non-fiction writers are making their mark here at home, as well as internationally, and this award is an opportunity to recognize the country’s best.”
The award is an annual national prize established by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation endowed by the Province of British Columbia in 2003 to celebrate excellence and achievement. An independent jury is responsible for the selection of the finalists and award winner.
The winner of the award will be announced on May 26, 2006, in Vancouver.
This year’s finalists are described in the following citations from the jury:
Rebecca Godfrey for Under the Bridge (HarperCollins)
Under the Bridge is a mesmerizing evocation of the lives of several teenagers whose suburban vanities and prejudices combine to produce the unthinkable: the murder of one among their midst. With measured prose, beautiful in its starkness, Rebecca Godfrey reconstructs the circumstances of the murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk, the unravelling of the secret of it, and the trial and its aftermath. Godfrey’s depiction of teenage sentiment, as disturbing as it is compassionate, lingers long in the mind and the heart.
J.B. MacKinnon for Dead Man in Paradise (Douglas & McIntyre)
In Dead Man in Paradise, J.B. MacKinnon sets out to uncover the truth about the killing of an uncle he never knew, a Canadian Catholic priest, 40 years earlier in the Dominican Republic. Part socio-cultural adventure, part macabre mystery, part hard-scrabble travel, the story of his attempts to penetrate the “culture of impunity” to find those responsible is told in vivid and urgent language, and is threaded with implicit moral dilemma, inviting reflections on the durability of faith and the realities of the hope for justice in an unbearably unjust world.
John Terpstra for The Boys, or Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter (Gaspereau Press)
John Terpstra’s The Boys is a personal account of the short lives of his three young brothers-in-law, who each struggled with the gradual but relentless physical deterioration brought on by muscular dystrophy. It may sound too painful to read, but with prose that is lyrical and poetic, Terpstra paints loving portraits of the boys, powerfully evoking the richness of and humour in their lives. Through their story, he brings us close to that most elusive and profound truth – an understanding of the meaning and value of our human lives.
John Vaillant for The Golden Spruce (Knopf Canada)
Using as the central tale one man’s destruction of a legendary tree in the B.C.’s coastal rainforest, The Golden Spruce makes a profound statement about man’s conflicted relationship with the wilderness. John Vaillant recreates the teeming life of the natural landscape and artfully melds it with the story of man in that setting – as logger, as European explorer, and as the people of Haida Gwaii (the traditional name for the Queen Charlotte Islands) – while probing the mystery of one man’s defiant act.
For more information on the award and this year’s finalists, please call 604 261-9777 or visit us online at www.bcachievement.com.
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To download images of book covers and author’s photos for this year’s shortlist, please visit www.bcachievement.com.
British Columbia Achievement Foundation
Office of the Premier
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