Books

British Columbia authors Alix Ohlin & Ruth Ozeki among 2022 B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes finalists

Ohlin's short story collection We Want What We Want and Ozeki's novel The Book of Form and Emptiness are among the finalists for the B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes. The annual awards celebrate books by writers in the province and territory on Canada's west coast.

Books by authors Suzanne Simard, Jordan Abel, Ian Williams and Darrel J. McLeod also on the award lists

Alix Ohlin, left, and Ruth Ozeki, right, are finalists for the 2022 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. (House of Anansi Press, http://www.ruthozeki.com/about-ruth)

Alix Ohlin's short story collection We Want What We Want and Ruth Ozeki's novel The Book of Form and Emptiness are finalists for the 2022 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

The award is part of the annual B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes, which celebrate books by writers in the province and territory on Canada's west coast.

There are also prizes that honour nonfiction, children's writing, poetry and other genres. The winners will be announced on Sept. 24, 2022.

Ohlin's We Want What We Want gathers stories of characters who want something — whether bad or good for them — and start to change as they decide to go after the object of their desires. It explores relationships between parents and their children, co-workers, lovers, distant cousins and people who primarily connect over social media.

We Want What We Want was a finalist for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

Ohlin is a writer from Vancouver and the current chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. Her other books include the novels Inside and Dual Citizens, both of which were finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Ozeki's The Book of Form and Emptiness is about a 13-year-old boy coping with the death of his father. Benny Oh hears voices from the random objects in his home, which intensify as his mother's hoarding gets worse. He finds comfort in the library, where the objects are more well-behaved and where Benny discovers a book that narrates his own life.

The Book of Form and Emptiness was also longlisted for the 2022 Women's Prize for Fiction.

Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest who splits her time between Western Massachusetts, New York City and British Columbia. She is the author of My Year of MeatsAll Over Creation and A Tale for the Time Being, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Ozeki teaches creative writing at Smith College.

Darrel J. McLeod is nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for his memoir Peyakow, the follow-up to his award-winning debut book Mamaskatch. Peyakow, the Cree word for "one who walks alone," picks up on McLeod's life as an adult working in education and advocating for Indigenous people.

Peyakow is also nominated for the Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes. It was on the shortlist for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

McLeod is a Cree writer from Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. Before retiring, McLeod was the chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. 

Suzanne Simard is a finalist for her bestselling book Finding the Mother Tree. The debut book describes Simard's life and work, growing up in the rainforests of B.C., becoming an ecologist, and researching how trees communicate with each other through underground networks.

The book was the grand prize winner of the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards, the Booker Prize-longlisted American author Richard Powers has cited her work as a key influence, and Hollywood actor Amy Adams is set to play Simard in an upcoming feature film based on the book. Simard recently championed the memoir Life in the City of Dirty Water by activist Clayton Thomas-Müller on Canada Reads 2022.

Jordan Abel picked up two nominations for his book Nishgathe Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize and Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize. 

In the memoir, Abel grapples with his identity as a Nisga'a writer, being an intergenerational residential school survivor and his own Indigenous identity while consistently being asked to represent Nisga'a language and culture. Blending memoir, transcriptions and photography, Nishga is an exploration of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person and how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people engage with the legacy of colonial violence and racism.

Nishga was a finalist for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Abel is also the author of the poetry collections The Place of ScrapsUn/inhabited and Injun, which won him the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017.

Ian Williams's Disorientation is a finalist for the nonfiction prize as well. In the book, Williams describes the impact of racial encounters on racialized people, especially when one's minding their own business. Sometimes, the consequences are only irritating, but sometimes they are deadly. Driven by the police killings and street protests of 2020, Williams realized he could offer a Canadian perspective on race. He explores things such as, the unmistakable moment when a child realizes they're Black, the ten characteristics of institutional whiteness, how friendship helps protect against being a target of racism and blame culture.

Williams is a poet, novelist and professor from Brampton, Ont., who is currently teaching at the University of Toronto. Disorientation was also a finalist for the 2021 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. His debut novel Reproduction won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is also the author of the poetry collection Personals, which was a finalist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Danielle Geller received two nominations for her memoir Dog Flowers. The B.C.-based author describes travelling to Florida after her mother's death by alcohol withdrawal. Geller finds eight suitcases, one of which is stuffed with diaries, letters, disposal cameras, dried sage and other personal items. She uses these traces of her mother's life to better understand her, and ends up on a journey back to her mother's Navajo reservation.

Below, find all the shortlists for the 2022 B.C. and Yukon Book Prizes.

Finalists for the 2022 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

Astra is a novel by Cedar Bowers. (Michael Christie, McClelland & Stewart)

Finalists for the 2022 the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize

Nishga is an autobiographical book by Jordan Abel. (Penguin Random House Canada/Submitted by Writers' Trust Canada)

Finalists for the 2022 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize

Antonyms for Daughter is a poetry collection by Jenny Boychuk. (Dean Kalyan, Vehicule Press)

Finalists for the 2022 Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes

Spílexm is a book by Nicola I. Campbell. (Highwater Press)

Finalists for 2022 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize

On the Trapline is a picture book by David A. Robertson (left) and Julie Flett. (Tundra Books, Amber Green)

Finalists for the 2022 Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize

Peter Lee's Notes from the Field is a middle-grade book by Angela Ahn, pictured, which was illustrated by Julie Kwon. (Tundra Books, angelaahnbooks.com)

Finalists for the 2022 Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award

A Is for Anemone is a picture book by Robert Budd and Roy Henry Vickers. (Harbour Publishing)

Finalists for the 2022 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize

Nishga is a book by Jordan Abel. (McClelland & Stewart, Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
  • Nishga by Jordan Abel
  • Luschiim's Plants: Traditional Indigenous Foods, Materials and Medicine by Dr. Luschiim Arvid Charlie and Nancy J. Turner
  • Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art by Karen Duffek, Bill McLennan and Jordan Wilson, in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia
  • Possessing Meares Island: A Historian's Journey into the Past of Clayoquot Sound by Barry Gough
  • Monster Child by Rahela Nayebzadah

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