Chalk up another win for long-lasting local literary luminary Esi Edugyan, who took home the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes on the weekend for her sophomore novel, Half-Blood Blues.
Edugyan’s novel of persecuted black jazz musicians in WWII-era Occupied Europe triumphed over Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden, Frances Greenslade’s Shelter and Once You Break a Knuckle by Department of Writing graduate and next-big-thing author D.W. Wilson. Ironically, the post-earthquake Victoria novel Into That Darkness by Edugyan’s husband Steven Price—also a Writing grad and frequent sessional instructor in the department—was also nominated in the same category.
In addition to the Wilson fiction prize, the BC Book Prizes also include the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (won by Charlotte Gill for her tree-planting memoir Eating Dirt), the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (crawlspace, by John Pass, which beat out The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane by retired Writing department superstar Patrick Lane), the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, by the late Chuck Davis), the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize (Blood Red Roadby Moira Young), the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize (When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary,illustrated by Julie Morstad) and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (which also went to The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver). Previously announced was the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, which went to Salt Spring Island poet and author Brian Brett.
Hosted by author and comic Charles Demers at a gala in Vancouver on Saturday May 12, the BC Book Prizes each carry a cash prize of $2,000, plus a certificate . . . and, of course, bragging rights.