Finalists Named for 12th Annual BC National Non-Fiction Award

December 8, 2015


VANCOUVER – Finalists for the 2016 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction – one of the largest non-fiction book prizes in the country – were announced today on behalf of the BC Achievement Foundation. The award carries a prize of $40,000, and each of this year’s finalists will also receive a prize of $5,000.

The 2016 finalists are John Ibbitson for Stephen Harper, Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Emily Urquhart for Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier for The Right to be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet.

The finalists were chosen by an independent jury from among 137 books submitted by 35 publishers from across Canada. The members of the 2016 jury are Anne Giardini, QC, Chancellor of Simon Fraser University; Richard Gwyn, columnist and writer; and Hal Wake, artistic director of the Vancouver Writers Festival.

Now in its 12th year, the award has featured such winners as Thomas King, Modris Eksteins, Charlotte Gill, John Vaillant, Ian Brown, Russell Wangersky, Lorna Goodison, Noah Richler, Rebecca Godfrey, and Patrick Lane.

The jury will announce the winner of the 2016 prize at a special presentation ceremony in Vancouver on February 4, 2016.

“We thank the jury for taking on the daunting task of narrowing a field of 137 outstanding works of imagination and inquiry to a longlist of 10 and now our four remarkable finalists for this year,” said Foundation Chair Keith Mitchell.

The finalists are described in the following citations from the jury panel:

John Ibbitson for Stephen Harper

“This book describes a contradictory prime minister in a contradictory country, and is narrated with great skill, executed with exacting even-handedness, and founded on detailed research that will tell most readers far more than they already know. Ibbitson describes the Harper we think we know – as mean, and as taking little pleasure in others. Then he tells us what we might not know – that Harper loves to talk to and play with children; that he favoured Israel in part to win the approval of his father, that despite ‘despicable acts’ that included a public scrap with Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin and cancelling Statistic Canada’s long-form census, he handled the economy well (at least until oil prices plummeted). A more difficult biography to undertake would be hard to imagine, but John Ibbitson, Ottawa columnist for The Globe and Mail, has pulled off the near impossibility of a first rate biography of a man who inspired anger and fear, and whose departure from politics is little mourned.”

Rosemary Sullivan for Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

“This comprehensive biography delivers sharply observed and meticulously researched revelations about Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin. Born in 1921, Svetlana defected from the USSR to the United States in her 40s – leaving her young son and daughter behind – but she was never able to escape her father’s brutal legacy or avoid being used by governments and others in furtherance of their own goals and ideologies. Sullivan draws from many sources, including KGB, CIA, and Soviet archives and Svetlana’s family and friends, to create an intimate portrait of a participant in and victim of some of the greatest geo-political upheavals of the 20th Century. This book provides unique insights, and deeply contributes to our understanding of many significant events of the past century.”

Emily Urquhart for Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes

“Emily Urquhart’s memoir opens with this sentence: ‘My daughter was born with a genetic condition I knew nothing about.’ The condition was albinism and Emily Urquhart’s voyage of discovery in her book Beyond the Pale becomes our own. Harnessing her experience as a folklorist, she tells a moving and personal story with forays into history, science, culture and politics. The many insights of this powerful and sometimes harrowing story are beautifully woven together with prose that is graceful and honest. Ultimately it is a story about being different – how it can define us and how we can learn to understand and accept differences.”

Sheila Watt-Cloutier for The Right to be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet

“The arctic is an important part of our nation. More than 40% of Canada’s landmass is arctic and the arctic coastline is nearly 75 percent of Canada's total shoreline. The Right to be Cold tells the paired stories of the erosion of Inuit culture and threats to the arctic ecosystem in which the Inuit have flourished for centuries. This book follows the author’s career, which has been devoted to saving the ice-based culture and traditions of northern peoples. Sheila Watt-Cloutier makes a compelling case for paying more attention to the arctic, and for treating climate change as a human rights issue.”


The BC Award is an annual national prize established by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation endowed by the Province of British Columbia in 2003 to celebrate excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise, and community service.

For more information on the award and this year's finalists, please call 604-261-9777 or visit www.bcachievement.com

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Contact:
Cathryn Wilson
Executive Director
British Columbia Achievement Foundation
604-261-9777
info@bcachievement.com
www.bcachievement.com

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British Columbia Achievement Foundation
T. 604.261.9777 | Toll Free 866.882.6088 (in BC)
E. info@bcachievement.com
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