Yasuko Thanh (left) and Margriet Ruurs (right) were awarded by the Victoria Book Prize Society at a ceremony honouring authors in the CRD. Contributed photos

Victoria Book Prize Awards celebrate local writers

A children’s story of a refugee family, and the tale of a journey to Vietnam among top honours

Stories of war and peace and history and identity were honoured at the Victoria Book Prize Society Awards ceremony this week.

Salt Spring Island writer Margriet Ruurs received the Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize for Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story and Victoria writer Yasuko Thanh took home the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize for her debut novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains.

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story

As a writer of almost 40 children’s stories, Ruurs said she’s always thrilled to be included for book prizes or festivals and being recognized publicly is cause for celebration.

“It’s difficult to use few words, that’s the challenge when writing poetry or picture books,” she said. “It’s exciting for me to see that a book [like that] can have such an impact.”

The writing process for Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Story, was an unusual one, Ruurs explained. Normally her publisher pairs her with an illustrator for an idea already brewing, but this time it was Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr’s images that Ruurs stumbled upon online that inspired her words.

“I thought kids would love to see pictures made from stones like that,” Ruurs said, though it took her three months to track Badr down in war-torn Syria. “He gave me permission to use the photos and so I arranged some of those into what I felt was a story about war and peace and people having to flee their homes to find peace.”

The proceeds of the book are providing Badr with an income and Ruurs is donating her royalties to refugee causes.

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains

Yasuko Thanh is no stranger to awards, Floating Like The Dead, her collection of short stories won the Journey Prize in 2009 and Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains was also shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Thanh calls her recent win “a message from the muses to put your butt in the seat and get to work” and work these days, is final edits on a memoir tentatively titled Mistakes To Run With.

“It’s always been the thing that’s walked next to me,” Thanh said of her writing, “That’s been the one constant throughout my life.” And she’s always dreamed of bringing to life the story of a family saga set in Vietnam, inspired by her paternal lineage (Thanh’s mother is German).

Even though her debut novel has impressed upon the literary elite, it’s not unheard of to find Thanh editing her words, red pen in hand, while onstage at readings, despite the book being long since published. “It’s so painful to read those sentences sometimes,” she said with a sigh. “I don’t think it’s ever finished.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to Victoria goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Victoria City Council directs staff to proceed with Central Park for new Crystal Pool location

Save-On-Foods Memorial parking lot still up for discussion as a location

UPDATED: $136M in transit funding coming to B.C.

The announcement was made at the BC Transit yard in Langford on Friday morning

‘Good Samaritan’ honoured for saving man from capsized canoe

BC Ambulance Service said Rob Clifford’s actions saved man’s life in December 2017 incident

Canada has enough pipelines to get the moon

Pipelines totalling 840,000 kilometres run across Canada

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

UK’s May appeals to public on Brexit, braces for more blows

British Prime Minister Theresa May answered questions from callers on a radio phone-in, the day after she vowed to stay in office

Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

Plaque installed in Prince Rupert to honour the memory of Shotaro Shimizu

Two B.C. police officers, held in Cuba for months, cleared of sex assault allegations

Port Moody Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver Const. Mark Simms have been in Cuba since March

Chef claims $1-million with lottery ticket purchased in Ladysmith

A Vancouver woman is $1-million richer after purchasing a winning Lotto Max… Continue reading

Most Read