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Finalists Announced for 13th Annual BC National Non-Fiction Award

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 12/01/16 -- Finalists for the 2017 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction - one of the largest non-fiction book prizes in the country - were announced today on behalf of the BC Achievement Foundation. The award carries a prize of $40,000 and each finalist will also receive a prize of $5,000.

The 2017 finalists are:

Taras Grescoe for Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War; Sandra Martin for A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices; Robert Moor for On Trails: An Exploration; and, Alexandra Shimo for Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve.

An independent jury chose the four finalists from among 141 books submitted by 46 publishers from across Canada. The members of the 2017 jury are Hal Wake, Jury Chair, Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest; Jan Walter, editor, publishing executive, bookseller and former Chair of the Kingston WritersFest Board and, John Burns, journalist, editor, publisher and current Editorial Director of Echo Storytelling Agency in Vancouver.

Now in its 13th year, the award has featured such winners as Rosemary Sullivan, Karyn L. Freedman, Thomas King, Modris Eksteins, Charlotte Gill, John Vaillant, Ian Brown, Russell Wangersky, Lorna Goodison, Noah Richler, Rebecca Godfrey, and Patrick Lane.

The jury will announce the winner of the 2017 prize at a special presentation ceremony in Vancouver on January 26, 2017.

"The 2017 shortlisted authors have inspired us to learn and reflect on the world in which we live whle expanding our thinking and our knowledge," said Foundation Chair Keith Mitchell. "Their works represent an excellent selection of non-fiction books, and we thank the jury for their work in narrowing the field of 141 books nominated for this year's prize to these remarkable finalists."

The finalists are described in the following citations from the jury panel:

Taras Grescoe for Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War (Harper Avenue, HarperCollins Publishers)

"Shanghai Grand is a spellbinding work that immerses us in a disappeared yet irresistible world. Shanghai on the eve of World War II is a city of dangerous contrasts: a glamorous haunt of the internationally rich and famous, a haven for desperate European and Russian refugees, a booming economy built on the opium trade, a strategic target of both Chinese communists and Japanese imperialists. Enter three extraordinary figures whose intertwined lives lead us into every salon and alleyway: the free-spirited American journalist, Emily Hahn; her protector, British tycoon Victor Sassoon; and her lover, the "decadent" Chinese poet Zau Sinmay. Their stories play out in vivid detail, inseparable from the tumultuous events around them. Grescoe's deft weaving of the intimate, the historic, and the political offers another perspective on the reality of Shanghai and China today."

Sandra Martin for A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices (Patrick Crean Editions, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd)

"It is a curious paradox that despite the inevitability of death, it is a subject people would rather avoid talking about. But is there a more important issue for us to resolve than how to find a social consensus on making death more humane? Sandra Martin's A Good Death will make an enormous contribution to our ongoing, often contentious public debate on the issue. Her careful and thorough research provides historical context, legislative precedents, the effect of medical technology and philosophical and religious insights. What truly distinguishes this book is the reportage on individuals and families who have fought to arrange for a better death, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. These firsthand experiences are the beating heart of a timely and powerful examination."

Robert Moor for On Trails: An Exploration (Simon & Schuster)

"In fractals, we find the beauty of forms repeating at ever smaller scales. In On Trails, Robert Moor, a transplanted American of prodigious talent, turns our eye to the fractal splendour of the paths that spool out in scales from minute (neuronal trackways) to massive (tectonic shiftings). The book - astonishingly, his first - is a glorious pathway of its own, meandering in places, bloody-mindedly efficient in others. Detours into aboriginal phonology, animal husbandry, and information architecture reveal themselves to be necessary way-stops as Moor investigates profound questions: What is wisdom? What is wilderness? Freedom? Choice? There's an element of cheerful dorm room philosophizing here as well, yet the sincerity of his conclusions (and his evocation of the walking life) are inspiring and resonant. It's a trail that demands re-walking."

Alexandra Shimo for Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve (Dundurn Press)

"In late 2005, the First Nation reserve of Kashechewan, Ontario, showed signs of E. coli. The provincial and federal response forms one strand of Alexandra Shimo's Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve. A second follows the reason that reporters, in town to investigate, were duped with "tap water" that was actually dirty river water. Shimo arrives to follow both threads: how was public health allowed to degrade, and who switched the samples? What she finds is chaos: in a reserve gutted by colonialism and church-condoned sexual predation; in a country where Native sovereignty conveniently absolves responsibility; and in Shimo herself. That last element, her unravelling mental and physical ability to withstand Kash's horrors, lifts the book from whodunit into something achingly poignant for all Canadians."

The BC Award is an annual national prize established by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation endowed by the Province of British Columbia in 2003 to celebrate excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise, and community service.

For more information on the award and this year's finalists, please call 604-261-9777 or visit www.bcachievement.com.

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