In Shadow of Cuts, BC Books Dominate Governor General’s Literary Awards Shortlist

October 15th, 2009

Of thirty-five books nominated for the 2009 Governor-General’s Literary Awards, English-language, ten are written by BC authors and nine are published by BC publishers. This high BC proportion of shortlisted titles is a testament to the quality of writing and publishing taking place in the province.
“This province boasts some of the most talented writers in the country,” says Andrew Wooldridge, Publisher of Orca Book Publishers and President of the Association of Book Publishers of BC. “This news should give the provincial government pause as they contemplate even greater cuts to the BC Arts community”.

The news that so many authors from British Columbia are to be honoured comes just one week after the provincial government announced that it was eliminating the funding for three key literary organizations in the province, BC BookWorld, the Association of Book Publishers of BC and the BC Association of Magazine Publishers.

In two weeks government will debate the budget estimates for 2010/11 in which support for the BC Arts Council has been reduced by 90%, putting in jeopardy grants for writers, the publishing of cultural titles and support for literary periodicals.

Rhona MacInnes, BCAMP Executive Director, is concerned that the cuts to the BCAC will erode BC’s ability to produce excellence on a national and international level. “Literary and cultural magazines are where writers cut their literary teeth, they are incubators for great writing,” she says. The Western Magazine Awards, where this excellence is also recognized, have just been notified that their funding has been eliminated.

Governor General’s Literary Award finalist, Robin Stevenson, is concerned that the modest support for writers currently available will disappear in next year’s budget. “It is such a huge honour to be nominated for this award,” said Stevenson, who is a BC Arts Council grant recipient and member of the Federation of BC Writers, “but I’m worried that BCAC funding that is so crucial to the support of BC’s writing talent will be lost”.

Margaret Reynolds, ABPBC Executive Director, agrees, “BC’s strong showing at the GGs shows the effectiveness of the system that the BC government is dismantling,” she says. “Our province will be the sorrier for it.”

Congratulations to all the BC publishers and writers nominated this year. A complete list follows.

Media Contact Information:
Margaret Reynolds 604-684-0228/

BC Finalists for the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Awards

Annabel Lyon (New Westminster), The Golden Mean, published by Random House Canada

Kate Pullinger (Cranbrook, now residing in the UK), The Mistress of Nothing, published by Penguin Group

Deborah Willis (Victoria), Vanishing and Other Stories, published by Penguin Group

Philip Kevin Paul (Brentwood Bay), Little Hunger, published by BC publisher Nightwood Editions (Gibsons)

David Zieroth (North Vancouver), The Fly in Autumn, published by BC publisher Harbour Publishing (Madeira Park)

Kevin Loring (Vancouver), Where the Blood Mixes, published by BC publisher Talonbooks (Vancouver and Powell River)

Joan MacLeod (Victoria), Another Home Invasion, published by BC publisher Talonbooks (Vancouver and Powell River)

Children’s Literature – Text
Shelley Hrdlitschka (North Vancouver), Sister Wife, published by BC publisher Orca Book Publishers (Victoria)

Robin Stevenson (Victoria), A Thousand Shades of Blue, published by BC publisher Orca Book Publishers (Victoria)

Children’s Literature – Illustration
Rachel Berman (Victoria), Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog, published by Tundra Books

Translation – French to English
A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott, published by BC publisher Talonbooks (Vancouver and Powell River)

Wildlives, by Monique Proulx, translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed, published by BC publisher Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver)

Empire of Desire, by Thierry Hentsch, translated by Fred A. Reed, published by BC publisher Talonbooks (Vancouver and Powell River)