Whether you want to become more in touch with the history and culture of Victoria, or you want to feel more connected to place through story, there are lots of great reasons to read books by local authors.
Marianne Kelly, senior buyer at Munro’s Books, can list a few.
“Reading books by local authors is a great way to support and connect with our artistic community and culture here in Victoria,” Kelly said. “As a bookseller, it’s very rewarding to have read and enjoyed a book by a local author and to be able to introduce their work to visitors from around the world. Customers often want to take a book home that they may not find elsewhere, that gives them a connection to Victoria.”
Munro’s Books supports the community with at least two in-store events with local authors each month during the spring and fall event season. Visitors to their shop will find plenty of novels marked local or “autographed copy” throughout the shop. Munro’s Books also offers a consignment program where people can submit their books for consideration.
Kelly said there are some notable authors to celebrate from this city.
“There’s some big authors in Victoria (like) Esi Edugyan and Steven Price. They’re married and literally a power couple. Esi has won the Giller twice. There’s also Michael Christie and Cedar Bowers who are both married.”
With summer on the horizon, it’s a perfect time to visit your local book shop and gather some books by local authors. Here are five of Kelly’s top picks for books written locally.
By Paul Cresey, Victoria
Cresey, who works as team lead at the Royal BC Museum, had his book launch for this debut collection of short stories on April 30 at the museum.
Framed within a tale about a journalist investigating choices of life and death, 18 stories explore restlessness, belonging, freedom and mortality. Exit Strategies holds stories about decisions to leave and move forward: a prisoner falls in love with his cellmate’s fiancée and breaks out to confess his feelings; a woman leaves Honduras for the U.S. in the hope of a better life; and convenience store owners withhold evidence to a murder in an attempt to free themselves from financial burden.
By Valerie Green, Victoria
For those who want to sink their imaginations into historical fiction set in Victoria, look no further than Providence. Kelly said this is one novel she recommends to visitors looking for books set in Victoria.
As the first book in The McBride Chronicles Series, this story follows two parallel lives – a feisty, orphaned girl in England and the son of a poor fisherman in Scotland – whose separate journeys to the New World lead them to meet in Victoria in 1862. Love, marriage and the creation of a family dynasty happen in this novel, all with a backdrop of B.C.’s rich history.
The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted
By Jennifer Manuel, Shawnigan Lake
“This novel explores how the education system fails remote Indigenous communities,” said Kelly.
Manuel paints the story of a non-Indigenous person’s experience moving to an Indigenous community as an educator and the conflicts that ensue. New teacher Molleigh Royston moves to the remote Pacific Northwest Nuu-cha-nulth community of Tawakin. Her good intentions soon become overshadowed with doubts about her mission and her own motivations as she struggles to understand and help her students. After a serious cultural transgression, disturbing and mysterious events ensue.
What Remains of Elsie Jane
By Chelsea Wakelyn, Nanaimo
After Sam’s husband died from a drug poisoning, Elsie pores over his old love letters and bickers with his ghost at night. As she tries to navigate her grief, she finds herself in kooky scenarios, including disastrous internet dates, soliciting a space-time wizard via Craigslist hoping to forget a path through the cosmos back to Sam, and developing an obsession with a local murder mystery.
“It’s kind of a heartbreaking and darkly funny portrait of a woman unravelling in the wake of the death,” said Kelly. “It’s an exploration of grief and how she deals with being a single mom and coming to terms with what happened.” Kelly said she appreciated the touch on motherhood as a mother herself.
The Flight of Anja (The Vinland Viking Saga, Book 2)
By Tamara Goranson, Victoria
For fans of Vikings and Outlander who don’t mind historical novels and a little violence. In The Flight of Anja, a young protagonist longs to spread her wings and follow in the footsteps of her mother who adventured in Vinland. Anja’s desires to explore are dampened by the expectations of 11th-century society until an unexpected source helps her flee on a Viking longboat with sights set on Vinland shores. As Anja finds her own meaning, she also finds herself on a path into unfamiliar wilderness and ominous shadows of her family’s history, offering the reader a glimpse into relationships between Norse and Indigenous people.
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