Judging the BC Book Prizes: Ethel Wilson Fiction Award

Yesterday I was asked whether I’d be interested in helping to judge the 2011 BC Book Prize. My answer: Yes.

More specifically I’ll be judging The Ethel Wilson Fiction Award.

Great honour. I’ve just requested some books by Ethel Wilson from our friends at McClelland & Stewart and hopefully I’ll be able to read one or two before the heavy boxes of books arrive.

I hope to be able to document the process of judging this prize – from the moment that the books arrive to the moment that I send my recommendation (while maintaining the precious secrecy around my title of choice, of course. Giving nothing away).

Part of that process has to be becoming more familiar with the work and legacy of the person after whom the award is named.

I can remember the section for Canadian Literature that we had at Chapman Books in Dundas, Ontario.

Separate – but equal, of course – from the Literature of the rest of the world.

And always in the bottom right hand corner of the section that took up most of a wall at the back of the store near a window that looked out into the back yard and gardens was Swamp Angel.

I still recall the classic NCL (New Canadian Library) edition. Always there. Someone always bought it, we always replenished.

I’ve never had a chance to read it until now.

And for those of you interested in the criteria for the prize: The author must be a B.C./Yukon resident or have lived in B.C. or the Yukon for three of the past five years. No anthologies.

Sean Cranbury is the Executive Editor of Books on the Radio. He's also Founder and Creative Director of the Real Vancouver Writers' Series. Sean is General Manager at the legendary Storm Crow Tavern and consults with literary arts organizations on digital communications strategies.

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