Ryga Award finalists announced

The George Ryga Society and Okanagan College are proud to announce the shortlist for the eighth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.

The son of Ukrainian immigrants, George Ryga settled in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley where he was known as a feisty playwright committed to social justice in works like The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (1969).

The Ryga Award celebrates his legacy by searching for an outstanding work of literary and social value by a B.C. writer.

The 2011 competition marks the expansion of the shortlist from three books to five due to a record number of submissions—57 in all.

“It’s a happy problem for us,” said Matt Kavanagh, chair of the department of English at the college.

“There are a number of worthy titles, which prompted a lively debate at our shortlisting meeting.

“The finalists range from a harrowing examination of human trafficking in Canada to a close study of B.C.’s iconic Cowichan sweater, which reveals how aboriginal women have woven themselves into the fabric of our nation.”

The shortlist is traditionally announced on July 27, Ryga’s birthday.

This year’s finalists are:

• Gabor Gasztonyi’s A Room in the City (Anvil Press)

• Sylvia Olsen’s Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater (Sono Nis Press)

• Benjamin Perrin’s Invisible Chains (Penguin)

• John Vaillant’s The Tiger (Knopf Canada)

• Richard Wagamese’s One Story, One Song (Douglas & McIntyre)

The winner of the 2011 Ryga Award will be announced at a gala presentation on Oct. 1 held at the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland.

Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press (publisher of Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists) will serve as the judge.

This year’s award evening will showcase Portait of a Lady: A Tribute to Margaret Laurence, featuring Dorian Kohl in her acclaimed performance as heroine Hagar Shipley, based on George Ryga’s seminal adaptation of Laurence’s classic novel The Stone Angel with dramaturgy by Michael Cook.

Tickets for the 8th Annual George Ryga Award evening and this special performance of Portrait of a Lady are $20 and available at Martin’s Flowers in Summerland (250-494-5432), The Dragon’s Den in Penticton (250-492-3011), the Okanagan College Bookstore (250-862-5622) or at the door.

The Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature is made possible by support from BC Bookworld, CBC Radio One (Kelowna) and Okanagan College.


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