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2020 Manitoba Book Awards Shortlists
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2020 Manitoba Book Awards Shortlists

By kerryclare
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On behalf of the coalition producing the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards/Les Prix du livre du Manitoba, we are excited to share the shortlists for 11 separate awards recognizing excellence in Manitoba writing, book design, and publishing. Congratulations to all the nominees! https://www.manitobabookawards.com/index.php/en/
Don Proch

Don Proch

Masking and Mapping
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction / Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais; Nominated for the Manuela Dias Design and Illustration Awards / Prix Manuela-Dias de conception graphique et d’illustration en édition
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Friends, Foes, and Furs

Friends, Foes, and Furs

George Nelson's Lake Winnipeg Journals, 1804–1822
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction / Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais 
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Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.
Excerpt

Minutes after I was born, my grandfather—that is, my father's father—gifted me a name. Then he signed a contract that struck me from the family registry. That ripped me away from my mother as she frantically counted my wrinkled and already-reaching fingers and toes. She pressed her mouth to my wet hair only once before I was taken away, what remained of the salty wax slip of her own insides thick and earthy on her lips. 

For thirty years (and still to this day in the mouths of most), my name was replaced by one so expected it might have been Jessica or Meghan or Kimberley. Names of varying degrees of impossibility to Korean speakers. Mine is a name that I answer to, but that I wear only because I'm accustomed to it. Because others are accustomed to it. Not because it suits me. Early on, I was scrubbed until my skin turned pink. I was programmed to speak English, then French, and to place my fork and knife side by side on my plate when I had finished eating. I disappeared into a life of cream-of-mushroom casseroles, Irish setters, and patent leather Sunday school shoes. I was buried under Bach concertos, feathered bangs, and maple sugar candy until my own mother wouldn't have recognized me. 

But of course I couldn't  stay missing forever, and around 2009, I was reborn somewhere in the dusky November mountains of Seoul. I came back to life with a long wooden spoon in one hand and flat silver chopsticks in the other. I came back when my Korean father called me by name, when my Korean mother called me daughter. When my youngest sister called me unni, older sister, and I understood what that meant. 

I learned by mimicking others. I tried to fall in line with a culture practised by people who use given names only for those younger than themselves. I peeled giant apples in one long curl. I recognized spiciness by the redness in the bowl. I came back to life when all the ginkgo berries had fallen and the entire ountry of South Korea was filled with their cutting scent. I came back to life when all that remained were persimmons clinging to bare branches. 

While my homecoming was something to be celebrated, it also planted lingering heartache once all the soju had been drunk and all the kisses had been given and received. I watched my parents, reunited after being torn apart on the day I was taken, fumble through what could have been our lives, if only. They came together, reclaimed the love they'd lost decades earlier. They thought they'd outsmarted fate. I thought I was happy. 

I watched my own unni's life crack and splinter and shatter when it became clear that our father had always been pathetic and her mother had sometimes been both weak and cruel. She tried, my unni, to love me despite all the disloyalty that went into my making, but in the end we had nothing to hold on to. And although there is even less between us now, I still whisper stories to her into the sky, fallen eyelashes and dandelion fluff. Confessions and prayers to an older sister, related but not really. Wishes that, one day, everything will be forgiven.

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Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction / Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais ; Nominated for the Eileen Mctavish Sykes Award for First Book; nominated for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year
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Radical Housewives

Radical Housewives

Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Hardcover
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction / Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais 
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Radical Medicine

Radical Medicine

The International Origins of Socialized Health Care in Canada
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction / Prix Alexander-Kennedy-Isbister pour les études et essais ; nominated for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year
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All That Belongs
Excerpt

It’s my last day of work at the regional archives, just a few hours now before my colleagues whisk me away to a retirement dinner. An elderly couple from Australis stops by with a request. I have nothing to do—my desk is empty, files cleared—so I’m floating around the front of the place and I greet them and help them find evidence of a second cousin who apparently lived and died in Winnipeg. Not that it matters one way or the other, they say, but since we’re travelling through Canada anyway.

They’re delighted with what I discover: a mention in the finding aid, a short article about the cousin’s appointment to a contractor’s firm, the death notice. They tell me they’ve heard he was a scoundrel and the clap their hands and laugh, as if this paucity of information confirms their suspicions, The Australian woman is small and bony in appearance, clad in a flowing black dress too big for her. But she bubbles with eagerness and warmth and her personality swells into the garment. I’m drawn to her.

When we’re done with the search, the woman and I discuss genealogy. I ask her how far back she can trace and she says, To the first fleet of them. To the first shipment of convicts.

Your forbearers were convicts? I’ve completely forgotten, in this moment, how that continent came to be populated with Europeans.

Oh yes, yes, convicts. There’s a lilt in her voice, she says convict as easily as she said scoundrel. It may have been for something horribly horrible, she goes on, maybe slaying the master or a neighbour. Or as trivial as stealing a rabbit from a rich man’s woods.

Her husband, who’s been distracted by files unrelated to the second cousin, lifts his head and chips in with a bit of a speech. There was a patient of Carl Jung’s, he says, who feared to accept things in his life lest they overpower him. His fear turned out not to be true. As he learned to be receptive to all that belonged to him, good and bad, light and night continuously alternating, his world came alive.

The woman touches his arm. Jung, Jung, she says, as if it’s his name. yes, she tells me, Jung and his patient were right. This credo has served us well. She takes her husband’s hand and begins to guide him out, the black dress undulating around her knobby knees like a wave goodbye.

She stops, turns, calls back. You’ve probably got embarrassment in your family tree too! Family trees are rarely reassuring! I smile and gesture indecisively and they carry on through the exit. I feel a sensation of judgment rising and pressing against my heart. It feels like the vague heaviness that used to oppress me during evangelistic meetings in my childhood church, an inchoate insistence to which I always responded with fresh avowals of surrender to God. My past might be unremarkable but I’m ashamed of it nevertheless. Yes. My odd Uncle Must. The whole lot of it, in fact, everything he drags in his wake, everything in my chronology, the choke and pother of my earlier self, the losses, my brother, that slight souring at the edge of every bite. Uncle—yes, and everything! Circumstance and disappointment that penetrate like yeast.

My assistant Joan is coming my way. She looks plump and superficial after the tiny woman in black. I pretend I don’t see her and stride to the window, I’m caught up in the couple’s words. In the personal history that weights me—suddenly, unexpectedly. The boulevard trees are almost bare, autumn light between branches weak and disconsolate, as if aching for green. That man and woman, it’s like they caught me off guard. Caught me already out of here and retired, ready for something new.

The pressure of judgment yields, shifts to wonder, to questions that compel. Two boys outside, rolling by on their skateboards. Their shouts ribbon back to me, dare me to grab and hold. God they’re young. So young and wonderful and round the corner already. Have I harboured shame too long? Been too fearful—of overpowerment?

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Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award / Prix Littéraire Carol-Shields De La Ville De Winnipeg
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Communal Solidarity

Communal Solidarity

Immigration, Settlement, and Social Welfare in Winnipeg’s Jewish Community, 1882–1930
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award / Prix Littéraire Carol-Shields De La Ville De Winnipeg
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Perception
Excerpt

Cathy Mattes

The Perception Series:
KC Adams, and the Value
of Socially Engaged Art

Art is a catalyst for social change, and Winnipeg-based artist KC Adams (Oji-Cree) is a social-change agent. Her work addresses racism toward Indigenous peoples, engagement with the land and ceremony, the association between nature and technology, and the benefits of community and kin. With ceramics, photography, beadwork, collaborative performance, and installation, she holds up a mirror to society, and provides opportunities for viewers to participate, reflect, and strategize to make personal and collective change. Adam’s photo-based series Perception challenges racist stereotypes and remedies the aftershocks of historical colonization and its continuous and present hold on contemporary Canadian society. The series relies on willing participants and an invested audience, and is best described as socially engaged art.

Although all art invites social interaction, socially engaged art depends on the involvement of others. Historically, it occurred in art galleries, where artists made artworks which were participatory and appealing, like convening visitors to share food or personal narratives in exhibition spaces. This blurred the lines between artist and audience, and broadened understandings of what constitutes art. Physical art objects or video recordings became the residuals or documentation of the process-based artwork instead of the main component.

Socially engaged art now often happens outside of gallery spaces, and artists are driven to not only challenge understandings of art, but also to make social change. They address concerns like gender inequality, poverty, or the effects of colonial oppression. They collaborate with the public to paint murals on buildings, make posters for distribution, organize pop-up exhibitions in storefronts, and create performance works at community gatherings. They activate conversations that promote self-reflection or cross-cultural education and respond to the current issues of their time. For Indigenous artists, socially engaged art is more than a yearning to make right in society; it is also about their own relationships to the land, and a way to personally and collectively heal from the negative impact of colonization. It requires making art in a good way, grounded in culture, community, and kinship ties.

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Why it's on the list ...
Nominated for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award / Prix Littéraire Carol-Shields De La Ville De Winnipeg; Nominated for the Eileen Mctavish Sykes Award for First Book; nominated for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year
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