Madeline Sonik and Caitlyn Vernon Win Book Prizes
Madeline Sonik, author of Afflictions and Departures (Anvil Press), won the ninth annual City of Victoria Butler Book Prize at the Victoria Book Prize Society gala this evening. Caitlyn Vernon, author of Nowhere Else on Earth; Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest (Orca Book Publishers), won the fifth annual Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize. Samantha Bolen of Bolen Books presented the $5,000 prize. Sonik was presented with her $5,000 prize by Acting-Mayor Chris Coleman and Brian Butler of Butler Brothers Supplies Ltd.
A work of literary non-fiction, Afflictions and Departures is a collection of Sonik’s firstperson experiential essays. In addition to incidents and feelings recaptured from memory Sonik chronicles the connections between the microcosm of the daily events of her childhood and adolescence, and the social, historical, and scientific trends of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The other finalists were William Deverell for I’ll See You in My Dreams, (McClelland & Stewart); Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen); Rachel Fisher, Heather Stretch, and Robin Tunnicliffe for All the Dirt (TouchWood Editions); and Mark Zuehlke for Breakout from Juno (Douglas & McIntyre).
Madeline Sonik is a teacher, writer, and editor. Her work has been published extensively in journals, magazines, and academic anthologies. She has a MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Education, both from UBC. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards, prizes and fellowships for her writing. She currently teaches at the University of Victoria.
Nowhere Else on Earth; Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest (Orca Book Publishers), guides young readers through a forest of information on the unique ecosystem of the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia’s central coast. Full of breathtaking photographs, personal stories and suggestions for ways to preserve this unique ecosystem, Nowhere Else on Earth is a timely and inspiring reminder that we need to stand up for our wild places before they disappear. The other finalists were Pamela Porter for I’ll Be Watching (Groundwood Books) and Kit Pearson for The Whole Truth (HarperCollins). Caitlyn Vernon grew up on British Columbia's Pacific Coast and now calls Victoria home.
Vernon has a background in biology and environmental studies and is currently a campaigner with Sierra Club BC. In September Nowhere Else on Earth was awarded the Lane Anderson annual Canadian science-writing prize for young-readers.
Jo-Ann Roberts host of CBC’s All Points West emceed the gala event. Janet Marie Rogers, Poet Laureate for the City of Victoria, opened the evening with a reading from her recent work. The winners and short listed nominees were treated to a night at the Magnolia Hotel and Spa and the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour.
Jurors for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize were poet, John Pass; bookseller, Jennifer Pike and librarian, Kate Pollock. The jurors cited Afflictions and Departures as, “a wonderfully generous book that returns us to one of literature’s touchstones: intensely personal revelation rendered universal. Sonik’s tone - cool and wry, manages to be simultaneously humane and funny.”
Jurors for the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize were librarian, Phyllis Dalton; writer, Maggie de Vries and bookseller, Adina Hildebrandt. The jurors described Nowhere Else on Earth as “awe-inspiring, entertaining, educational and motivational.”
Lorna MacDonald, President of the Victoria Book Prize Society, was delighted with the sell-out crowd. “We are pleased to support our region’s writers and produce an event where members of the public can enjoy meeting and hearing from our talented authors.”