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Two SFU alumnae nominated for BC Book Prizes

Clockwise from left: Renee Saklikar's children of air india, Renee Saklikar (photo by Greg Ehlers), Janie Chang's Three Souls, and Janie Chang (photo by Ayelet Tsabari).
March 14, 2014

By Amy Robertson

Two alumnae of The Writer’s Studio, a creative writing program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies, have been nominated for prestigious BC Book Prizes.

Renee Saklikar’s (TWS 2009) collection of elegies about the 1985 tragedy of Air India Flight 182, children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections (Nightwood Editions 2013), is a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Three Souls (HarperCollins 2013), a novel by Janie Chang (TWS 2011) set in 1930s civil-war China, is a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Winners will be announced on May 3, 2014.

children of air india is a book that I feel this whole province, and this country, needs,” said Wayde Compton, a Vancouver author and the director of The Writer’s Studio at SFU.

“Much has been said and written about Canada’s worst incident of terrorism, but it is through the language of poetry that we can really face the deeper, more elusive meanings of such a scarring event, and Saklikar's book makes new forms of dialogue possible about a topic that cries out for ongoing discussion.

Three Souls is a first novel by Janie Chang that feels more like a book written by someone who has been publishing for years—people keep saying that it's hard to put down, and that has been exactly my experience of it: engrossing, complex, emotional, and fascinating for its fresh take on its historical, pre-war Chinese setting. Rivers of thought and hard work went behind both of these books, and that they are each first books is truly amazing. I am absolutely certain we will be reading more and more of both Saklikar and Chang in the years to come, and that these two writers will be defining what Canadian literature looks like in the future.”

“I am honoured to be among such distinguished writers, including my colleague Janie Chang, from SFU’s The Writers Studio,” said Saklikar. “My journey as a poet deepened and became a lifelong practice when working with the mentors and instructors at SFU.”

"I can't say enough about The Writers' Studio," added Chang. "It taught me so much about the craft and business of writing. More than that, it provided a supportive writing community. I'm so honoured to be on the shortlist, but I have to give some of the credit to TWS."

The Writer’s Studio has produced other BC Book Prize nominees in recent years, including Anakana Schofield, whose novel Marlarky was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 2013; Gurjinder Basran, who won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for her first book, Everything Was Good-Bye, in 2011; and Arleen Pare, who was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Prize for her book Paper Trail in 2008. 

Other recent award nominees include Ayelet Tsabari (TWS 2007), whose anthology of short stories, The Best Place on Earth, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. In 2011, Tsabari was nominated for a Creative Non-Fiction Collective Readers’ Choice Award for her short story “Warplanes.” This year, E.R. Brown’s Almost Criminal was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award for mystery writers.