Wednesday, June 12, 2024

These local authors have been named as finalists for the Victoria Book Prize


Victoria is home to many accomplished writers and a handful of successful, locally focused publishing houses that consistently put out literature that shines a spotlight on Vancouver Island. 

On Thursday, September 7th, the City of Victoria released the shortlist for the prestigious Victoria Book Prize for this year. 

The finalists include five authors for the 20th annual City of Victoria Butler Book Prize, which is awarded to the best author in the categories of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. 

The finalists include Maleea Acker for Hesitating Once to Feel Glory, Robert Amos for E.J. Hughes: Canadian War Artist, Mary Bomford for Red Dust and Cicada Songs, Pauline Holdstock for Confessions with Keith and lastly, Katłįà (Catherine) Lafferty for This House Is Not a Home

In Hesitating Once to Feel Glory, Acker’s poems are described as hanging on precipices of emotion. They invoke sadness, longing and glory using imagery and metaphors in a precise and skillful way. 

E.J. Hughes: Canadian War Artist is an art analysis book of some of E.J. Hughes’s most famous wartime pieces which all have an emphasis on the impact of the war on BC’s coast. 

Mary Bamford’s memoir Red Dust and Cicada Songs tells the story of her own coming-of-age in being an immigrant to Canada from Zambia along with her husband. 

Confessions with Keith is a comic novel that Holdstock documents a middle-aged writer’s mid-life crisis in. The lead character endures much of their life crumbling before their eyes and has to find a way to navigate those challenges. 

In This House Is Not a Home, Lafferty combines fictional characters and real, historical events at a time when Indigenous people’s houses were being dispossessed by the government across Canada’s vast north. 

The City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize is in its 16th year, and has three finalists who either wrote or illustrated a locally focused children’s book. 

The finalists for the children’s book prize are all published from the local Orca House Publishing. The authors and illustrators are Sara Cassidy for Union, Monique Gray Smith for I Hope / nipakosêyimon and Julie McLaughlin (illustration) for Little Pine Cone: Wild Fires and the Natural World.

Cassidy’s Union is meant for youth 12-years-old and up and tells the story of a 15-year-old who suffers abuse at the hands of his mother’s partner, coming to terms with that pain and finding strength to endure. 

I Hope / nipakosêyimon is a picture book written by Indigenous author, Monique Gray Smith about all the hopes adults have for the young people in their lives. 

The illustrator of Little Pine Cone: Wild Fires and the Natural World, Julie McLaughlin, has been listed as a finalist for her artwork within the natural science picture book meant to educate about the natural world in and around Victoria in a time of climate change. 

Both prizes are worth $5,000 from the City of Victoria and the Victoria Book Prize Society and are judged by an independent jury of local literary arts community members. 

The city says the winners will be announced at a gala event that will be hosted by  CBC Radio’s Kathryn Marlow on October 11th. 

How many of these books, authors, poets and illustrators have you heard of? Would you want to go out and find their works to help support local authors and storytellers? Let us know in the comments!

2023 Victoria Book Prize Gala 

  • Where: Union Club of British Columbia, 805 Gordon Street
  • When: Wednesday, October 11th at 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: $25, available online

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Curtis Blandy

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