The shortlist for the 2023 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards has been released and two books from Douglas & McIntyre have been recognized. Rachel Rose’s The Octopus Has Three Hearts has been shortlisted for the fiction award, and Gidal: The Unusual Friendship of Yosef Wosk and Tim Gidal, edited by Alan Twigg, is a finalist for the non-fiction award. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 24.
The Octopus Has Three Hearts is a collection of short stories that reveal the lives of damaged and flawed people who live in the peripheries of society. But their bonds with animals—including an octopus, pot-bellied pig, chameleon, and a parrot, as well as dogs, bats, rats, kittens and sugar gliders—have a measure of compassion and solace that their connection with their human communities lack.
Rachel Rose makes her debut in fiction with The Octopus Has Three Hearts, which was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. An award-winning author with four collections of poetry published, Rose was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis award in 2018 for her memoir, The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World’s K9 Cops. In the past, she has also won the Bronwen Wallace Award for fiction from The Writers’ Trust, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, a 2014 and 2016 Pushcart Prize and a 2016 nomination for a Governor General’s Literary Award. From 2014-2017, she was the Vancouver Poetry Laureate Emerita and currently edits poetry at Cascadia Magazine and contributes to Maisonneuve Magazine. More of her work can be found in The Globe & Mail, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Malahat Review, Rattle, New Quarterly, Best Canadian Poetry, Monte Cristo Magazine and the Vancouver Sun.
Gidal: The Unusual Friendship of Yosef Wosk and Tim Gidal is a collection of letters exchanged between Nachum Tim Gidal and Yosef Wosk. Wosk is a rabbi, community leader, and prominent figure in the BC arts scene while Gidal was a photographer and Jewish pioneer of modern photojournalism. Having travelled interwar Europe and recorded the lives of Polish Jews prior to the annihilation of WWII, Gidal’s accomplishments and role as a photographer are memorialized in the book. More than that, this handful of conversations about philosophy, personal issues and reading recommendations reveal the essence of these two men’s friendship in Gidal’s brilliant and witty writing and Wosk’s appreciative and intelligent letters.
Alan Twigg has written twenty books and was the founder and, for 33 years, editor of BC Book World, Canada's largest-circulating publication about books. He has been an editor of Quill & Quire, Canadian books columnist for the Vancouver Province, books columnist for Vancouver magazine, a contributor of profiles to the Toronto Star and the Writers Union of Canada representative on the board of directors of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. He received the first Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to literature and publishing in 2000, the Order of Canada in 2015 and the BC Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in 2016. In 2022 Simon Fraser University awarded him a Doctor of Letters, Honoris Causa.
The Western Canada Jewish Book Awards celebrates excellence in writing on Jewish themes and subjects from Western Canadian authors. In order to encourage and enhance the literary community west of the Ontario Manitoba border, WCJBA spotlights Western Canadian authors and their achievements. The awards commemorate the Cherie Smith JCC Book festival. Each winner is given $2000 and invited to an Awards soiree in late spring.