Victoria editor nominated for Governor-General award

Times Colonist (Victoria)
Tuesday October 21, 2003

Adrian Chamberlain

Maggie de Vries believes her Governor General's award nomination helps validate the forgotten women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

MAGGIE DEVRIES: Forgotten women

De Vries, a part-time editor for Victoria's Orca Book Publishers, was nominated Monday for a Governor General's Literary Award for her book, Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers her Vanished Sister. The book is about her sister, Sarah de Vries, whose DNA was discovered on Robert Pickton's Port Coquitlam pig farm.

"I was stunned by the nomination. Such a thing hadn't crossed my mind," said de Vries, 42, who's based in Vancouver. "It's a recognition of a voice from the Vancouver Eastside. It feels like a recognition of that voice."

De Vries's book details her sister's slide into drug addiction and prostitution. It contains numerous passages written by Sarah de Vries, such as diary entries, poems and childhood letters.

Maggie de Vries said she feels like she shares the nomination with her sister, who was 28 years old when she disappeared from Vancouver in 1998.

"I think that she would be very glad to know that her voice is being heard. Because, of course, it never was, except for her own community."

De Vries has written mostly children's fiction in the past. Two were shortlisted for the B.C. Book Prize: Chance and the Butterfly and How Sleep Found Tabitha.

The other writers nominated in the nonfiction category are Andrew Clark, Andrew Cohen, Ross King and Margaret MacMillan.

Margaret Atwood also made the short list for the Governor General's Literary Awards on Monday for her novel Oryx and Crake. Elizabeth Hay of Ottawa received a G-G nomination for in the fiction category for Garbo Laughs, as did Edeet Ravel of Montreal for Ten Thousand Lovers.

Two expatriates are also on the list: Jean McNeil, formerly of Nova Scotia and now living in Britain, for Private View, and Douglas Glover, an Ontarian now residing in Wilton, N.Y., for Elle.

A total of 70 books (five in each category, English and French) have been nominated for the awards. Thirty-nine of the finalists are nominated for the first time.

Besides fiction and nonfiction, there are prizes for poetry, drama, children's literature (text and illustration) and translation.

"The rich and varied works that have been nominated for this year's Governor General's Literary Awards breathe life into our spirit and our national psyche," Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, who's known to be a great supporter of literature and the arts, said in a statement.

Jean-Louis Roux, chairman of the Canada Council for the Arts, said the books reflect the excellence and diversity of Canadian writing.

"They provide readers young and old with unforgettable characters, settings, images and experiences."

This year for the first time, the four winners -- French and English, text and illustration -- in the children's book categories will be honoured at a special ceremony on Monday, Nov. 10 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Children from across the National Capital Region will be invited to attend the event, which will include readings and workshops related to children's literature.

The other winners will be announced Wednesday, Nov. 12 at a morning news conference, and they'll receive their awards that evening at a dinner and reception at Rideau Hall.

All the winners will be invited by Library and Archives Canada to take part in a gala reading on Thursday, Nov. 13.

The Canada Council for the Arts administers the awards, worth $15,000 each. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000, and finalists who don't win will receive $1,000.


Missing Sarah, A Vancouver women remembers her vanished sister-2003




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Updated: August 21, 2016