Books play a vital role in providing access to, transmitting, and promoting education, science, culture, and information on a global scale.
It’s because of this that UNESCO is celebrating World Book and Copyright Day on April 23rd, with this year’s theme being a tribute to indigenous languages.
According to the peace and cultural organization, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.
To celebrate this global event, we’ve gathered nine local authors who will help you lose yourself in a good read:
Steven Price – Gaslight (2016)
Steven Price is the author of two award-winning poetry books, Anatomy of Keys (2006), winner of the Gerald Lampert Award, and Omens in the Year of the Ox (2012), winner of the ReLit Award.
Gaslight (2016) takes place in London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men’s futures — a man of smoke.
William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows.
Harley Rustad – Big Lonely Doug (2018)
First published in 2018, Harley Rustad’s Big Lonely Doug weaves the ecology of old-growth forests, the legend of the West Coast’s big trees, the turbulence of the logging industry, the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, First Nations land and resource rights, and the fraught future of these ancient forests around the story of a logger who saved one of Canada’s last great trees.
Ruby Peter – What Was Said to Me (2021)
A narrative of resistance and resilience spanning seven decades in the life of a tireless advocate for Indigenous language preservation. Life histories are a form of contemporary social history and convey important messages about identity, cosmology, social behaviour and one’s place in the world.
This first-person oral history–the first of its kind ever published by the Royal BC Museum–documents a period of profound social change through the lens of Sti’tum’atul’wut–also known as Mrs. Ruby Peter–a Cowichan elder who made it her life’s work to share and safeguard the ancient language of her people: Hul’q’umi’num’.
Peter was the lead language consultant on five SSHRC grants on Hul’q’umi’num’ stories and four Partnership Development Grants on narrative and discourse structure, pronunciation, the language of canoe culture and Hul’q’umi’num’ theatre. Sadly, Dr. Peter passed away in 2021.
Esi Edugyan – Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling (2021), Washington Black (2019)
In 2022, Esi Edugyan, a two-time Giller Prize winner won the Victoria Butler Book Prize for Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling. In this work of non-fiction, Edugyan analyzes the Black experience through the lens of art, storytelling and her own lived experiences.
Edugyan was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, attended school at UVic and remained on the island where she started a family.
Related: Calling all book-worms: City of Victoria offering $10,000 in awards to local authors
Wendy Proverbs – Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children (2021)
Wendy Proverbs won the 2022 Victoria Children’s Book Prize for her book Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children. Her middle-grade novel tells the story of two young Indigenous girls growing up on the border of Yukon and BC being sent to a residential school. The story is told from the perspective of a grandmother who lived through the experience she is sharing with her granddaughter in contemporary times.
Proverbs holds a BA and MA in anthropology from UVic and continues to reside in Greater Victoria.
Glen Mofford – Along the E&N (2019)
This fascinating history looks at 60 historic hotels situated along the E&N railway that ran from Esquimalt to Campbell River. Full of salacious stories of proprietors and guests alike, as well as evocative vintage photographs.
Michael Christie – Greenwood (2020)
Greenwood is based in 2038 as humanity struggles through an environmental collapse known as the Great Withering, Scientist Jake Greenwood is working as an overqualified tour guide on Greenwood Island which is home to a remote oasis of thousand-year-old trees.
Jake had thought the island’s connection to her family name just a coincidence, until someone from her past reappears with a book that might give her the family history she’s long craved.
Lucy Haché – Stars (2018)
Lucy Haché, a member of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, a Kwakwaka’wakw Community on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, writes an ode to the sky in this short, luminous collection. She explores both her personal and ancestral relationships with the stars, accompanied by transcendent illustrations by Michael Joyal.
Kathy Page – Dear Evelyn (2018)
Page’s novel follows a 70-year marriage between two incompatible partners. Harry is a sensitive working class poet from London. Evelyn is enigmatic and demanding, especially after she’s left behind with a baby in WWII. A tale that traces the emotional development of a decades-long relationship.
With files from Curtis Blandy