Modris Eksteins, a Toronto-based historian, has won the $40,000 British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery and the Crisis of Truth in the Modern Age.

Eksteins was named winner Tuesday evening in Vancouver by B.C Minister of Citizens' Services Ben Stewart.

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Modris Eksteins, right, is shown celebrating his win with Ben Stewart, Minister of Citizens' Services and Open Government, left. (B.C. Achievement Foundation)

The jury called Solar Dance a "fascinating work of cultural history, and a provocative analysis of the roots of the modern era as it developed in the social and political turmoil of the early 20th century."

Solar Dance tracks the rise of Vincent van Gogh’s celebrity in the 20th century as the artist, who barely sold a work in his lifetime, was embraced by Weimar Germany and later popular culture.

Eksteins, professor emeritus at University of Toronto, analyzes van Gogh's popularity against a backdrop of social and political revolution in Nazi Germany and the case of Otto Wacker, accused of forging van Gogh’s work.

Solar Dance is also nominated for the Hilary Weston Prize for non-fiction.

The other finalists for the B.C. prize, which celebrates non-fiction from across Canada, were:

  • George Bowering for Pinboy: A Memoir.
  • Robert R. Fowler for A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda.
  • Candace Savage for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.