Great day for local publishers

Jan DeGrass/Contributing Writer / Staff writer
March 21, 2014 01:00 AM

Author Kathy Para of Gibsons is shortlisted for a fiction prize for this years BC Book Prizes, which will be handed out May 3 in Vancouver.

Nominations for the annual BC Book Prizes have been announced, and once again Sunshine Coast publishers have risen to the top.

Harbour Publishing and their acquisition Douglas & McIntyre are celebrating the work of several finalists.

They're all good choices, said Harbour publisher Howard White.

They include David Stouck's biography, Arthur Erickson, An Architect's Life (D&M), an intimate portrait of the brilliant and controversial architect who put Canada on the world stage. This first full biography of Erickson, who died in 2009 at the age of 84, traces his life from its modest origins to his emergence internationally.

White noted that it has been short-listed or nominated for six awards, but has not yet won. This could be its moment.

Smaller publisher Night-wood Editions has also been nominated in the poetry category for Children of Air India. The book by Renée Sarojini Saklikar is a powerful and deeply personal collection that offers a fresh perspective on a heartbreaking chapter in Canadas history the bombing of Air India Flight 182.

Author Kathy Para of Gibsons was nominated in the fiction category for her award-winning novel Lucky, published by Mother Tongue Publishing of Salt Spring Island. Naturally, she's excited.

It's always hard to tell what judges will like, she said. It's an extremely competitive process.

Para pointed out that all the fiction finalist books were written by women, among them Journey Prize winner Cynthia Flood. But non-fiction sells better.

People enjoy a sense of place and politics, Para said. That's why I tried to make Lucky more edgy, more like a newscast.

Set in the war-torn Middle East, the book describes the post-traumatic story of a risk-taking photojournalist.

Arno Kopecky's Oil Man and the Sea and Arthur Erickson are both finalists for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize, awarded to the author of the best original work of literary non-fiction. Kopecky describes a sailing trip along the Northern Gateway tanker route. He meditates on the line between impartial reportage and environmental activism, ultimately arguing that there are some places oil tankers should never go.

Three books from both Harbour and Douglas & McIntyre are finalists for the Bill Duthie Booksellers Choice Award: Grant Lawrences The Lonely End of the Rink, Paula Wilds The Cougar (reviewed in Coast Reporter in December) and Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budds Raven Brings the Light. This awardis given to the book that is the most successful in terms of public appeal, initiative, design, production and content. The prize is shared by the publishers and the authors.

Russell Thorntons Birds, Metals, Stones and Rain,published by Harbour, is a book of verse that explores powerful, primary human relationships through images of two worlds: the natural and the urban industrial.

Thornton is just coming into his prime, White noted. The book was short-listed for a Governor General's Award in 2013.

We labour away up here in the bush in Pender Harbour, White said. It's nice to get some recognition.

The winners of the BC Book Prizes will be announced at an awards ceremony in Vancouver May 3. See: for details.

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