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2020 City of Victoria Book Prizes
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2020 City of Victoria Book Prizes

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On October 4, 2020 at the 17th annual Victoria Book Prize Gala, Mayor Lisa Helps and co-sponsor Brian Butler awarded the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize to Lorna Crozier for The House the Spirit Builds (Douglas & McIntyre) and also awarded the City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize to Mark Leiren-Young for Orcas Everywhere; The Mystery and History of Killer Whales (Orca Book Publishers). The winners were announced at a virtual gala evening as part of the Victoria Festival of Authors. Both winners received $5000. Here is a list of all the finalists for both prizes. One nominated book that is not here is Sylvia Olsen & Odelia Smith's Neekah’s Knitting Needles (Sono Nis Press)
The House the Spirit Builds

The House the Spirit Builds

by Lorna Crozier
by (photographer) Peter Coffman & Diane Laundy
introduction by Rena Upitis
edition:Paperback

Renowned poet Lorna Crozier offers a masterful collection of poems inspired by Diane Laundy and Peter Coffman’s photographs taken in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere in Southwestern Ontario. Beginning in this setting, The House the Spirit Builds extends to include any region, any place that ignites the human mind and heart.

Something astonishing happens when the poems and photos sit side by side and speak to one another in a language that is timeless, lucid and precise: they bring us to a wisdom th …

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Every Little Scrap and Wonder

Every Little Scrap and Wonder

A Small-Town Childhood
edition:Hardcover

From an award-winning essayist and acclaimed poet comes this radiant, observant, and warmly funny memoir about childhood, family, and small-town life.

Carla Funk grew up in a place of logging trucks and God, pellet guns and parables. Every Sunday, she sat with her mother and brother in the same pew at the Mennonite church while her dad stayed home with his cigarettes and a fridge full of whiskey. In these tender, humorous stories, Funk stitches together the wondrous and the mundane: making snow a …

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Cultivated

Cultivated

The Elements of Floral Style
edition:Hardcover
also available: Cards

Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style elevates floral design to fine art in this richly informative work on the principles of floral style. A charming and intelligent mentor, Christin Geall emboldens designers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs to think differently and deeply about their work with flowers as she draws upon the fine arts and historical sources, exploring Baroque music, the paintings of the Impressionists, or the work of floral innovators like Gertrude Jekyll and Constance Spry.

Cove …

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Picking Up the Pieces

Picking Up the Pieces

Residential School Memories and the Making of the Witness Blanket
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover

Picking Up the Pieces tells the story of the making of the Witness Blanket, a living work of art conceived and created by Indigenous artist Carey Newman. It includes hundreds of items collected from residential schools across Canada, everything from bricks, photos and letters to hockey skates, dolls and braids. Every object tells a story.
Carey takes the reader on a journey from the initial idea behind the Witness Blanket to the challenges in making it work to its completion. The story is told …

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Lampedusa

Lampedusa

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
From the #1 nationally bestselling author of By Gaslight, a novel of exquisite emotional force about love and art in the life of one of the great writers, reminiscent of Colm Tóibín's The Master, or Michael Cunningham's The Hours.

In sun-drenched Sicily, among the decadent Italian aristocracy of the late 1950s, Giuseppe Tomasi, the last prince of Lampedusa, struggles to complete the novel that will be his lasting legacy, The Leopard. With a firm …

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Excerpt

He arrived promptly at ten o’clock for his appointment and Dr. Coniglio saw him at once. There was something odd in the doctor’s manner, stiff, which worried him and alerted him to the seriousness of the news. He had known Coniglio for years. They were of an age. A graceful man, with athletic shoulders, a clean stiff collar and shirtsleeves invariably rolled. He liked him, the cordiality in his speech, the clarity in his face like sunlight on flagstones. Coniglio had treated his mother at the end of her life, when she was dying in the ruins of Casa Lampedusa, had made the long drive from Capo d’Orlando to Palermo each week. Until the war, he had been the family physician for his cousins, the Piccolos, attending them at Vina, their villa, and it was only in the last five years that the doctor had opened an office in Palermo. He remembered now, seeing the man’s new consulting rooms, how his mother had used to look at Coniglio, the narrow cold assessment in her eyes. She too had thought him a fine gentleman. She too had not wanted to observe himstanding next to her son.

He did not think of himself as shy but a certain shyness took hold in him when he found himself in the company of men such as this, men with a deference for his own station in life, men who had set out and achieved success, men of purpose, men of the world. Their easy manners left him uneasy, their confidence made him falter. He felt himself slow down, grow watchful, hesitant, until he had lost the moment for the quick retort or dry joke that came always to mind. Instead he would blink his lugubrious eyelids, and smile faintly, and meet the other's gaze helpless.

He waited for the doctor to gesture to a chair before he unbuttoned his winter coat and sat. He took off his hat and folded his gloves in its upended crown and rested his walking stick across his knees. He set his leather bag carefully to one side, half unbuckled, the little frosted cakes in their paper wrappers from his breakfast at the Massimo visible, the spine of the book he had brought for later, The Pickwick Papers, shining up at him. He reached at once for the cigarettes in his pocket but caught the doctor’s eye.

No?

Ah, Don Giuseppe—Coniglio smiled, tsking—not all that is pleasurable in life is forbidden. But some things are, or should be. You look tired, my friend.

Giuseppe withdrew his hand and crossed his legs, the bulleted purple upholstery crackling. The other had settled himself at the edge of his desk, one leg hitched up, his hands folded lightly over his thigh, those hands which turned and weighed and cut into the skin of other beings and sought out the secrets in their flesh. Calmly he met the doctor’s gaze.

Well? he said.

It is as I feared. The doctor’s voice was slow now, deliberate. Emphysema. It can be checked perhaps, but not stopped. I am sorry.

Giuseppe smiled faintly. He could not think what to say. The spirometer is not always conclusive, of course. We could examine you again.

Would you advise it?

Coniglio held his eye a moment. I would not, he said at last, gently. Are you here alone? I had hoped the princess would accompany you.

He shook his head, calm.

You should not be alone, the doctor said. He rose and went behind his desk and opened a drawer and unscrewed the lid of a fountain pen. I shall write you out a prescription to help with the pain. But the only true medicine, you understand, is for you to cut out tobacco.

The winter morning was grey and diffuse in the curtains. Giuseppe closed his eyes, opened them.

And will that reverse the effects? he asked.

It is a chronic disease, Don Giuseppe—there is no reversing its effects. It will progress regardless. But it can be managed.You must change the way you have been living. You must exercise regularly. Walk. Eat rather less. Avoid stress and worry as you can.

There is no other treatment?

Well. Let us try this first.

But the disease will kill me? he pressed.

Coniglio regarded him quietly from behind his desk. Anynumber of things could kill you first, he said.

Giuseppe, despite himself, smiled.

I will give you this for the pain, and to help you sleep. The doctor took some minutes to write out the prescription. He then untied a red folder and withdrew two typed pages and perused them and then slipped them back into the folder. We are getting old, Don Giuseppe, he said. That is the substance of it. We may not feel it, but it is so.

Yes. 

Our bodies will not let us forget it.

Indeed.

Coniglio steepled his fingers before him. It was clear he was struggling with what to say next. After a moment, to Giuseppe’s surprise, he began to speak, in a casual way, of his wife. He had a French wife who was known to treat him badly. He said: Jeanette has returned to Marseilles. Her sister is ill. She wishes to be with her family. She has written me to tell me she would like me to join her. Permanently.

Ah.

You and the princess lived apart a long while, did you not?

Yes. In the thirties.

I remember your mother spoke of it. Princess Alessandra was in Latvia?

Giuseppe nodded. He did not like to think what his mother might have said about it.

Coniglio was tapping his fountain pen against his wedding ring, click, click. Otherwise his face was calm, his hair smooth, his coral shirt unwrinkled and immaculate. Yes, he said, yes yours was an arrangement that succeeded. So I tell myself, it is the modern world, Coniglio. Be strong. You have telephones, aeroplanes.

Giuseppe did not enlighten the man. Licy had always gone where she chose to go, as she chose it. She had flet to Sicily only when the Soviets neared her estate in Latvia, burning the great homes as they advanced. He did not deceive himself by imagining she had bowed to his desires. 

Jeanette tells me there is work for a doctor in any city, Coniglio said. Even for a Sicilian doctor, she says. I expect there is some truth in that.

What will you do?

Coniglio looked out the window, smiled vaguely. I will imagine the very worst of fates and settle for a lesser one, he said. But my patients, I would worry for them, Don Giuseppe. It would mean, of course, many farewells.

It is always better to be the one leaving than the one left behind, said Giuseppe.

Yes. And some journeys cannot be delayed.

Giuseppe inclined his head.

Coniglio pinched the bridge of his nose and there was a sudden anguish and bafflement in the gesture. He removed his spectacles, blinked his watery blue eyes. The man’s strong emotion surprised Giuseppe, left him uncomfortable. Do you know, said the doctor, for years now, whenever I am faced with a difficult decision, I think of something your mother said to me. She said, Always take the easier path, Dr. Coniglio. And yet I have never done so. I wonder what is the matter with me.

It was as though a coin flared in the cold sunlight between them.

Your mother was a powerful personality, Coniglio continued. She had strong opinions. I remember she used to talk to me about Mussolini.

She was rather confused, near the end.

She used to complain about his spats. Too many spats, she would say, Coniglio smiled, shook his head. I remember she held my hand one morning and said Mussolini had changed nothing and yet because of him everything had changed. 

She was thinking of her house, Giuseppe said quietly.

A beautiful palazzo, the doctor agreed. The Americans did not need to bomb us as they did.

I did not know you knew it, Doctor.

Coniglio gave him a puzzled look. I visited your mother there. Several times.

It was hardly beautiful then.

Well.

It was a fine house once, before its ruin.

And a fine house after, Don Giuseppe. When I was a child I would pass by it every Sunday morning. My father worked a fish stall in the Vucciria. It was not the fastest route. But then I was not always in such a hurry to join him.

He said this without shame or embarrassment at his low origins and Giuseppe could only nod vaguely. It seemed all at once of supreme insignificance. His mother, he remembered now, had distrusted this doctor by the end, had coughed and grimaced and called him her good doctor Mafioso. He opened his mouth to speak, closed it. Do not gawp like a fish, his mother used to tell him. He got abruptly to his feet.

You must forgive me, he said.

Coniglio half rose from behind his desk. Of course.

I have lost track of the hour.

Certainly. We shall speak again soon, of that I am certain, Don Giuseppe. Remember me to Don Casimiro and Don Lucio, if you will. And of course to the princess.

He suddenly heard in the doctor’s old-fashioned phrasing the syntax of an English novel, as if it were a sentence translated aloud from Meredith or Eliot, and he glanced at the doctor from beneath heavy eyelids. More than most this man had witnessed the tension and soured love directed by his mother towards himself as she ailed, had witnessed her bitterness, the muttered imprecations, the veiled insults. It left him, Giuseppe felt with a quick sharpness, vulnerable and foolish. But then the feeling was gone and he wanted only to absent himself from the small office with its smells of lemon gauze and varnish and camphor, smells that would forever remind him of his own death.

And so Giuseppe Tomasi, last Prince of Lampedusa, put on his hat with care, worked his fingers into his dead father’s kidskin gloves, and took up his walking stick and his worn leather bag. At the door he paused.

How much time do I have, Doctor?

Coniglio’s hands were clasped carefully on the desk before him and as he tilted his head his spectacles filled with light, obscuring his eyes. That will depend on you, he said. Let us pray it is many years yet.

In which case, said Giuseppe, it will not depend on me at all.

The doctor smiled, but there was a sadness in it, and Giuseppe went out, the frosted glass on the streetside door rattling softly as it closed, and he shuffled out into the cold bright air leaning on his cane as if it were still the same morning as before, and he the same man.

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Nevers

Nevers

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Resourceful fourteen-year-old Odette is on the move again, traveling as a stowaway on a cheese cart with her hapless mother, Anneline. They are in Burgundy, France, in 1799, fleeing yet another calamity caused by Anneline (who is prone to killing people accidentally). At dawn they find themselves in a town called Nevers, which is filled with eccentric characters, including a man who obsessively smells hands, another who dreams of becoming a chicken and a donkey that keeps the town awake at night …

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Orcas Everywhere

Orcas Everywhere

The Mystery and History of Killer Whales
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook

Orcas are found in every ocean on the planet. But can they survive their relationship with humans? Orcas Everywhere looks at how humans around the world (Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike) related to orcas in the past, how we relate to them now and what we can do to keep cetacean communities alive and thriving. The book deals with science, philosophy, environmentalism and ethics in a kid-friendly and accessible way. Writer, filmmaker and orca activist Mark Leiren-Young takes us back to when ki …

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