Book Worms: Victoria’s Literary Lights

Don’t forget to snag a few of the best 2011 book offerings from authors right here in your own city

Book Covers for Best of 2011

Book Covers for Best of 2011

While you’re snuggling into the end of your holiday vacation time, don’t forget to snag a few of the best 2011 book offerings from authors right here in your own city. With talent ranging from Gillar Prize-winning fiction to poetry by Officer of the Order of Canada Lorna Crozier and 2011 Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize illustrator Kristi Bridgeman, clearly Victoria is where it’s at for literary love. Grab a list and start checking off a few of these must-read selections before you have to make room in your library for the 2012 line-up.


William Deverell’s – I’ll See You in My Dreams

I’ll See You In My Dreams marks the fifth in Deverell’s bestselling Arthur Beauchamp series, and takes the reader on a thrilling ride through a touch-and-go murder trial that floods light into some of the darker corners of Canada’s history. Beauchamp must pass through long-repressed personal territory along the way, but the journey ultimately offers some hope for the peace of redemption.

Patrick deWitt – The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers marks Dewitt’s second novel, and takes the reader through the underworld of the 1850s frontier, as Eli and Charlie Sisters are charged with the responsibility of killing Hermann Kermit Warm. Though Eli doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, he’s never known anything else. On the road from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento, Eli begins to question what he does for a living — and whom he does it for. Sisters cinched the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Esi Edugyan – Half-Blood Blues

Edugyan’s Giller Prize-winning novel tells the story of Sidney Griffiths, an elderly jazz musician living out his days in Baltimore. He is haunted by the disappearance of his friend and band mate Hieronymus Falk, a black German trumpeter arrested by the Nazis in Paris at the start of the Second World War. When he’s invited to Berlin for the premiere of a documentary about Hieronymus, Sid sets out to uncover what happened to his friend all those years ago.

Jack Hodgins – The Master of Happy Endings

Master tells the tale of what happens when retired English teacher Axel Thorstad posts an ad in the newspaper asking to be adopted by a family in need of a tutor, in hopes that returning to teaching might be a way out of the malaise that has enveloped him since his wife passed away. Hodgins just scored the 2011 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for this novel about memory, belonging, helping others and last adventures.

C.C. Humphreys – The Hunt of the Unicorn

Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world, in New York City. And she’s outgrown that kind of fantasy — until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. Unicorn marks Humphreys’ most recent blend of historical fiction aimed at young-adults, but takes readers of all ages on a thrilling journey.

Ashley Little – PRICK: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist

In her crackling debut novel, Little explores themes of addiction, desire and remorse through narrator Anthony “Ant“ Young: an artist, an asshole, and an anti-hero, whose audacity is matched by his vulnerability. After fleeing a violent home life in Calgary, Ant moves to Victoria, where he earns his tattooing apprenticeship, but is also exposed to a vicious and frightening criminal underworld.

Grant McKenzie – SWITCH

How far would you go to save the ones you love most? McKenzie takes readers on a thrilling ride as two strangers face their worst fears when they are challenged to destroy everything they hold dear to save the ones they love. Also, check out e-book exclusive K.A.R.M.A., where tech-savvy victims of abuse unite to turn their collective pain into bloody retribution.

Steven Price – Into That Darkness

Award-winning poet Price flips to fiction to deliver a powerful story about the physical manifestation of the darker things lurking in our culture and ourselves. Set in Victoria, the novel opens when a massive earthquake hits the entire west coast with devastating results. Amid the destruction of the city, survivors are left to negotiate a calamity, with the bonds of civility pushed to their limits and often broken.


Nancy Marguerite Anderson – The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson’s Journeys in the West

Anderson has dedicated many years to writing this book about her great-grandfather, Alexander Caulfield Anderson — a fur trader, explorer and the Hudson’s Bay Company clerk who paved the way to B.C. 15 years before the 1858 Fraser River gold rush. Anderson succeeded where Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser before him failed.

Terry Glavin – Come From the Shadows

Far from the Taliban’s grim desert strongholds, award-winning journalist Glavin takes the reader on a trip through a surprisingly welcoming place, hidden away in alleys and narrow streets that bustle with blacksmiths, gem hawkers and spice merchants. This is the unseen Afghanistan, reawakening from decades of savagery and bloodletting — and what we should know about the country.

Sarah N. Harvey – Death Benefits

A finalist for the 2011 Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize, Death Benefits exposes a narrator who is having trouble coming to terms with the death of a father. Orca editor Harvey used her own experience caring for elderly father to shape the book. Watch for Harvey’s new novel out now, Shattered.

Mary Hughes – The Life and Times of the Floathouse Zastrozzi

In Hughes’ second book, she shares her 12-year passage aboard the floathouse Zastrozzi to combine a lighthearted look at a unique way of life with a healthy dose of harbour politics in Victoria during the ’90s. Zastrozzi narrowly avoids a collision with the Coho Ferry, repels an invasion of mink and barely survives sinking at the dock — all before the daunting challenge of moving her ashore on Salt Spring Island.

Stephen Hume – A Walk With the Rainy Sisters

Shortlisted for the 2011 Butler Book Prize, Hume’s most recent book is a lyrical testament to a great love affair between a writer and his region. Hume guides readers through the natural world, moving from the thin, cold air of B.C.’s high country to the fecundity and silence of the deep rainforest.

Nick Russell – Glorious Victorians: 150 Years/150 Houses

In page after page of full-colour photographs, Russell captures as many beautiful Victoria homes — from log cabins to cargotecture — as the city has years to celebrate. Illustrations include brief descriptions and short essays on architectural styles.

Barbara Stewart – Campie

Bankrupt, homeless and with only an old Toyota Tercel to her name, Stewart has taken a job as a camp attendant at Trinidad 11, an oilrig camp in northwestern Alberta. She’s told it’s a “dry” camp — good news for a person hoping to stay sober — but she soon finds out this isn’t true. She spends her days mopping floors, scrubbing bathrooms and picking up empties. When she discovers that a campie who “doesn’t play, doesn’t stay,” Stewart is forced to make a decision.

Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie – Somebody’s Child: Stories about Adoption

Somebody’s Child marks Van Luven’s third in the Nobody series — anthologies about the 21st century family. This time, 25 contributors share their stories of heartbreak, joy, quest for origin and closure in the adoption process.

Robert Wiersema – Walk Like a Man

Wiersema has been a Bruce Springsteen fan since he was a teenager, following tours and ordering bootlegs from shady vendors in Italy. Now, he blends biography, music criticism and memoir to expose how Springsteen remains a paragon of all that is cool in the world of rock. Like the best mix tapes, Walk Like a Man balances joy and sorrow, laughter and the questions that haunt us all.

Mark Zuehlke – Ortona Street Fight

Dec. 20, 1943: two Canadian infantry battalions and a tank regiment stand poised on the outskirts of a small Italian port town. They expect to take Ortona quickly, but the German First Parachute Division has other ideas. Hitler has ordered the city held to the last man. Zuehlke’s newest Rapid Reads offers a riveting account of what is considered one of the most epic battles Canadian soldiers ever fought.


Dvora Levin – Voices from the Edge

This rare glimpse allows the reader into a world many will never see, with submissions from first-time writers who have long been silent about their time as sex workers, addicts, campers and street-entrenched. A recovering management consultant rewiring her life, Levin has published two books of poetry and worked with members of Victoria’s community to produce material that is real, raw and often flinch-inducing.

Lorna Crozier – Small Mechanics

After being named an Officer of the Order of Canada and winning the Governor General’s Literary Award, Crozier’s radiant new collection of poems touches on the passing of time, the small mechanics of the body as it ages and the fine-tuning of what a life becomes when parents and old friends are gone.

Carla Funk – Apologetic

Victoria’s inaugural poet laureate (2006 to 2008) has issued her fourth book of poems, this time capturing microscopic moments in time and nature. Funk tests and plays with traditional poetic form to translate vivid description and feeling into her works.

Patrick Lane – The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane

Lane delivers some of his finest and most favoured poems in a volume that represents the accumulated richness of fifty years of work by one of Canada’s most important poets. The reader witnesses, firsthand, how Lane developed from an engaged recorder of hard experience and traumatic violence into a master poet whose meditations on nature, human frailty and love allow him to balance the world’s suffering with stunning moments of transcendent beauty and peace.

Janet Marie Rogers – Unearthed

Rogers is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario, and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people since 1994. Her latest collection of more than 50 poems has been divided into three poignant sections: Love, Politics and Identity.

Jan Zwicky – Forge

Governor General’s Literary Award-winner Zwicky has issued her newest collection of poetry as a set of variations that employs a restricted, echoic vocabulary to explore themes of spiritual catastrophe, transformation and erotic love.


Diane Shaskin and Mark Craft – How to Cook Bouillabaisse in 37 Easy Steps: Culinary Adventures in Paris and Provence

Diane Shaskin and Mark Craft, who founded Planet Organic Markets, have given their lively account of a Canadian couple’s culinary adventures in France. Filled with rich detail and charming anecdotes, this is also a personal story of making friends, adopting a son and discovering their place in the world. The book has been accepted for competition in the prestigious Best in The World Cookbook Awards.

Gary Hynes – Island Wineries of British Columbia

Hyne’s exploration of flavours, terroir and grape varieties that can be found only on the Wine Islands off the west coast won him the Gourmand International Wine Books Award 2011 for Canada. Island Wineries now qualifies for the Gourmand Best in the World award, to be presented March 6, 2012 in Paris. His selection offers a list of the best spots to sample the Islands’ meaderies, cideries, fruit wines, artisan distilleries, craft beer and Island wine culture.

Peter Ladner – The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the way we feed cities

Ladner, a lifelong vegetable gardener, provides a recipe for community food security based on leading innovations­ across North America. He draws on his political and business experience to show that we have all the necessary ingredients to ensure that local, fresh sustainable food is affordable and widely available.


Kristi Bridgeman and P.K. Page – Uirapurú

Uirapurú (pronounced oor-a-pur-ú) is the story of a bird renowned in legend for having the most beautiful and strangest song in the world. Illustrator Bridgeman and internationally known poet Page partner to tell the story about a group of mischievous boys who set off to catch the elusive bird. Uirapurú won the 2011 Bolen Books Children’s Prize.


David Lester – The Listener

Lester got the idea for The Listener after stumbling on a brief account of the Lippe election in a history book about Hitler. After more research, he realized the story of the Lippe election had never been fully explored in English, and weaves together the history with a fictional tale of an artist who creates a piece of art that inspires political action and ends in tragedy. In a combination of pencil, pen, watercolour and acrylics, Lester wrote and illustrated the novel over a period of seven years. M

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