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Victoria’s book prize winners celebrated at gala

Esi Edugyan won the city’s Butler book prize while Wendy Proverbs took home the children’s book prize
Esi Edugyan and Wendy Proverbs have won this year’s City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize, respectively. (Courtesy of Victoria Book Prize Society)

Two members of Victoria’s literary community are in the spotlight this month.

This year’s recipients of the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and the City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize are being recognized for exploring Black and Indigenous perspectives.

Esi Edugyan won the Butler prize for Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling, while Wendy Proverbs won the children’s book prize for Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dene Children. The winners were announced at the 20th annual Victoria Book Prize Gala held at the Union Club, and both winners received $5,000 prizes.

“Congratulations to Esi Edugyan and Wendy Proverbs,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a news release. “These two awards honour their exceptional work in addressing important and complex topics in such a thought-provoking and creative way. I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for their contributions to Victoria’s literary community.”

Edugyan’s non-fiction book is described in the release as an “insightful exploration and moving meditation on identity, art and belonging from one of the most celebrated writers of the last decade.” Out of the Sun offers new perspectives, examining Black histories in art through the lens of visual art, literature, film and the author’s lived experience.

“We had a wonderful evening hearing from these talented authors who call Victoria home,” said Victoria Book Prize Society President Kim Gough. “My congratulations to our winners and finalists, as well as my sincere gratitude to our sponsors and volunteer board who make this event happen.”

Aggie and Mudgy is based on the true story of Proverbs’ biological mother and aunt, and is her debut novel. Aimed at young readers, it traces the long and frightening journey of two Kaska Dena sisters as they are taken from their home to attend residential school. When Maddy discovers an old photograph of two little girls in her grandmother’s belongings, she wants to know who they are. Nan reluctantly agrees to tell her the story, though she is unsure if Maddy is ready to hear it. The girls in the photo, Aggie and Mudgy, were taken from their families at a young age to attend residential school, where they endured years of isolation and abuse.

READ MORE: Finalists announced for Victoria’s best books of the past year

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