Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on Bering’s Great Voyage to Alaska, by Stephen R. Bown, has won the prestigious Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction as part of the 2018 Alberta Literary Awards. The awards were created by the Writers’ Guild of Alberta in 1982 to recognize excellence in writing by Alberta authors. This year, jurors deliberated over 260 submissions to select 24 finalists in eight categories. The winners were announced at the 36th annual Alberta Literary Award Gala in Calgary on June 2, 2018.
Island of the Blue Foxes uncovers the story of the Great Northern Expedition, one of history’s most ambitious and well-financed scientific expeditions. Conceived by Peter the Great in the 1730s and led by Danish mariner Vitus Bering, the expedition transported a grand cavalcade of scientists, secretaries, interpreters, artists, surveyors, officers, and laborers across oceans and unforgiving landscapes. Along the way, the crew was plagued by grave misfortunes, and bolstered by unparalleled success. Island of the Blue Foxes tells their incredible story: one of personal and cultural animosities, Gothic horrors, and ingenuity in the face of adversity.
Natural History Magazine praised the book, calling Island of the Blue Foxes “a fine addition to the literature of Arctic exploration.” CBC News celebrated the book as “a worthwhile read and perhaps one of [Bown's] best.” Island of the Blue Foxes was also shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize and longlisted for the BC National Award for Non-Fiction earlier this year.
Stephen R. Bown is the author of many critically acclaimed, award-winning titles, including most recently White Eskimo (Douglas & McIntyre, 2015), which was the winner of the 2016 William Mills Prize for Non-Fiction Polar Books. Bown lives in the Canadian Rockies.