Only one writer has won the Vancouver Book Award twice. Michael Kluckner took home the prize in 1991 for Vanishing Vancouver and again in 2007 for Vancouver Remembered.
Nobody has ever replicated this feat. However, this year, two authors—Chelene Knight and Wayde Compton—are in contention to become the second to accomplish this.
This week, the city announced the 2023 Vancouver Book Award finalists. Knight made the list for her coming-of-age novel Junie, which is about a Black girl living in Strathcona’s Hogan’s Alley in the 1930s. Book*hug Press is the publisher.
Back in 2018, Knight won the Vancouver Book Award for Dear Current Occupant. It consists of letters, essays, and poems to residents of various homes she occupied as a precariously housed child and youth in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Compton won the Vancouver Book Award in 2015 for The Outer Harbour Stories. The publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press, states that these tales, both past and set not far in the future, “condense and confound our preconceived ideas around race, migration, and home, creating a singular world in a city built on the legacies of racism and colonialism, hurtling towards a future both impossible and inevitable”.
This year Compton is a finalist for the Vancouver Book Award as a co-author of Jan Wade: Soul Power. The other authors are the artist Jan Wade, Deanna Bowen, Daina Augaitis, and Siobhan McCracken Nixon. It was published by Information Office, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Compton co-founded the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project in 2002. He is a finalist for the Vancouver Book Award a record fourth time. Only two others, Kluckner and Wayson Choy, have been nominated three times. Choy won in 1996 for The Jade Peony.
City announces book prize winner next month
The other finalists for this year’s Vancouver Book Award are:
Cactus Gardens by Evelyn Lau. Published by Anvil Press.
The Foghorn Echoes by Danny Ramadan. Published by Penguin Random House.
Holden After and Before: Love Letter for a Son Lost to Overdose by Tara McGuire. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press.
PAWS: Mindy Makes Some Space by Michele Assarasakorn and Nathan Fairbairn. Published by Razorbill.
The 2023 City of Vancouver Book Award jury included writers Molly Cross-Blanchard and Dina Del Bucchia, and community-engagement librarian Allan Cho.
The award will be announced on September 22 in the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch’s Alice MacKay Room. It will come with a $3,000 cash prize.
The first winner of the Vancouver Book Award was Paul Yee in 1989 for Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver.