I was at the BC Book Prizes ceremony on Thursday night, making a fool of myself. I was presenting one of the prizes and having failed to read the instructions carefully I... oh, never mind. The Book Prizes is not about the presenters, it is about the writers and their books. And I was pleased to be able to hand the Roderick Haig Brown Regional Non-fiction prize to Dan Savard for his wonderful collection of historic photos of First Nations people, Images from the Likeness House.
Dan seemed genuinely surprised and thrilled to receive the prize -- one of eight that was handed out -- and I was reminded that what I like about the Book Prizes event is to see the pleasure the authors get from having their books nominated. I was sitting in the audience next to Rifet Bahtijaragic, whose novel Chernovs'' Toil and Peace was up for a fiction prize. Rifet, who came to Canada from Bosnia several years ago, told me that this is his first novel to be published in English. He had enough friends and family there that they filled almost an entire row of seats in the theatre. Even the fact that Rifet's book did not win couldn't dampen their sense of celebration.
I should mention that Dan Savard's book took second prize at the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for Historical Writing ceremony the previous week so April has been kind to him. (The winner of the first prize medal was Sylvia Olsen for her book about the Cowichan sweater, Working with Wool.)
While I have your attention, let me list the other book prize winners from Thursday night: Gurjinder Basran, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for Everything was Good-Bye; John Vaillant, the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for The Tiger; Stephen Collis, the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for On the Material; Maggie de Vries, the Sheila Egoff Children's Literature Prize for Hunger Journeys; Julie Flett, the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize for Owls See Clearly at Night; and Grant Lawrence, the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award for Adventures in Solitude. As well, the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence went to poet and novelist George Bowering.