Richard Wagamese, author of One Story, One Song, has been announced as the winner of the eighth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.
The Ryga Award celebrates playwright George Ryga’s legacy by searching for an outstanding work of literary and social value by a B.C. writer. Wagamese’s book, published by Douglas & McIntyre, was one of nearly 60 entries in the 2011 Ryga Award competition. After being shortlisted with four other finalists, One Story, One Song was chosen by this year’s judge Andrew Steeves of Gaspereau Press, publisher of Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists.
“Wagamese artfully weaves sixty-some short essays—stories, really—into an unpretentious philosophy of life rooted in personal observations and experiences, transposing an understanding of traditional Ojibway principles (humility, trust, introspection and wisdom) into modern-day life,” explained Steeves.
“Though drawing unflinchingly on his experiences as a native man, a child of residential school survivors, a homeless person and an addict, Wagamese writes with honesty and pathos without becoming ensnared in sentimentality. Yet it is not a book focused on hardships, victimhood or survival; rather, One Story, One Song is a frank and frequently mirthful testament to the prospect of a way forward; a reminder of our responsibility to live principled lives,” he added.
One Story, One Song will be celebrated at the 2011 Ryga Award gala on Oct. 1 held at 8 p.m. in the Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland, B.C. In the week leading up to the gala, CBC Radio One (Kelowna) will air excerpts from the shortlisted books and interviews with Steeves and Wagamese. In addition to Wagamese’s Ryga Award-winning effort, the 2011 finalists include:
* 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)
This year’s award evening will showcase “Portrait 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. The ceremony also features the presentation of “The Censor’s Golden Rope,” a unique artwork recreated annually by Armstrong sculptor Reg Kienast.
Tickets for the eighth 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 in Kelowna (250-862-5622) or at the door