A stack of books on a living chair

Book lovers rejoice — six page turners announced as finalists for the City of Vancouver Book Awards

October 19 2021 –

Six books that demonstrate excellence and reflect Vancouver’s unique character, rich diversity and culture, history, and residents have been selected as finalists for the annual City of Vancouver Book Awards.

The books cover a range of genres, and showcase and explore many of the city’s social and cultural issues such as segregation, displacement, addiction, homelessness, migration, and other disruptive forces that perpetuate damage to communities affected by legacies of colonization. 

The awards will be presented in a hybrid event on November 20. Since the 2020 award was postponed due to the pandemic, we will announce two winners of the award who will each receive a $3,000 prize. Livestream details will be shared on our website in the coming weeks.


  • Catherine B. Clement for Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow (Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC)
    • Clement showcases the long-hidden work of the first and most prolific Chinese photographer in Vancouver, Yucho Chow. Chow’s affordable and friendly studio in Chinatown captured the faces of many equity denied communities who were excluded from services by white photographers.
  • Francine Cunningham for on/me (Caitlin Press)
    • With keen attention and poise, Cunningham explores what it means to be forced to exist within the margins. Cunningham holds a lens to residential schools, intergenerational trauma, Indigenous Peoples forcibly sent to sanatoriums, systemic racism, and mental illness and translates these topics into lived experiences that are all at once nuanced, emotional, funny, and heartbreaking. 
  • Joseph Dandurand for The East Side of it All (Nightwood Editions)
    • The East Side of it All follows the experiences of life as a drug user and single-room occupant in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and of the ongoing process of healing through reconnection with family, the natural world and traditional Indigenous (Kwantlen) storytelling. 
  • Michelle Good for Five Little Indians (Harper Collins)
    • The paths of five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. Good chronicles, with compassion and insight, the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and ultimately find a way forward. 
  • Alex Leslie for Vancouver for Beginners (Book*hug Press)
    • Nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where Leslie leads readers past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards, childhood landmarks long gone, and a developer who paces at the city’s edge, shoring it up with aquariums.
  • Danny Ramadan and Anna Bron for Salma the Syrian Chef (Annick Press)
    • Ramadan creates a beautiful representation of Syrian culture told through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron’s vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances.  

Honourable mention

  • Ho Sun Hing Printers (grunt gallery), by Marlene Yuen
    • An honourable mention goes to Yuen’s short print-run artist book. Yuen tells the story, through text, letterpress, and risograph printing, of Canada’s first Chinese-English letterpress printing shop located in the historic Chinatown of Vancouver.

The six finalists and the honourable mention were chosen by an independent selection panel comprising Hilary Atleo, Chris Lee, and Shazia Hafiz Ramji.

Learn more about the Book Award

The City of Vancouver Book Award has been recognizing authors of excellence of any genre since 1989. See the full list of previous award recipients and shortlisted authors