City of Vancouver Book Award

2019 City of Vancouver Book Award finalists announced

September 25 2019 –

Five books that demonstrate excellence and reflect Vancouver’s unique character, rich diversity and culture, history, and residents’ lives and experiences have been selected as finalists for the 2019 City of Vancouver Book Award.

The 31st annual City of Vancouver Book Award will be presented at the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch on October 19, 2019 at 3pm. The event is open to the public and will take place in the vibrant, 9th floor community space.

The finalist books cover a range of genres: poetry, short-stories, true crime, young adult fiction and a full-colour art book. These five contemporary works bring visibility to segregation, displacement, gendered violence, homelessness, migration and other colonizing or disruptive forces in the city. 

2019 finalists

  • Philip Huynh for The Forbidden Purple City (Goose Lane Editions): A beautifully-written short story collection that dives into the Vietnamese diasporic experience. In the streets bounded by Knight, Kingsway, and Dumphries—and beyond—families reinvent themselves in unfamiliar settings and tensions flare between the generations.
  • Eve Lazarus for Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic and a Charismatic Killer (Arsenal Pulp Press): A rigorously-researched and sensitive account of an, at-the-time, sensationalized murder in 1965 Vancouver and the small, city centered conservative culture, politics, policing and legal systems.
  • Susin Nielsen for No Fixed Address (Tundra): A young adult novel—humourous, heartbreaking and hopeful—about a teenager and his mom living in hidden homelessness, moving their Westfalia van around the streets of Vancouver.
  • Shazia Hafiz Ramji for Port of Being (Invisible Publishing): A debut book of poetry—innovative, intimate, daring, and political—where surveillance, migration and violence in Vancouver and port cities world-wide both connect and separate its people.
  • Robert D. Watt with Susan Point for People Among the People: The Public Art of Susan Point (Figure 1 Publishing with the Museum of Anthropology at UBC): A comprehensive and beautifully-photographed art book that makes visible the Coast Salish art style and freely-accessible, monumental public art of internationally-renowned xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) artist Susan Point. 

View photos of the 2019 finalists and book covers

Selection panel

The five shortlisted titles were chosen by an independent selection panel that included: 

  • Hilary Atleo: An itinerant Indigenous bookseller and operator of Iron Dog Books— a mobile bookshop dedicated to bringing low-cost reading to Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories.
  • Nav Nagra: The Communications Manager at Vantage Point, who also serves on the board of the Vancouver Art Book Fair. She is an editor and member of Room Magazine’s collective. She is working on what will, one day, be a novel.
  • Billeh Nickerson: An author, editor and educator whose collection, Artificial Cherry, was nominated for the 2014 City of Vancouver Book Award. He’s Interim Chair of Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

The $3,000 prize is funded by the City's Publishing Reserve, which was established in 1977 as a permanent legacy for Vancouver writers and publishers.