1102 The irrelevant Ormsby Review
The irrelevant Ormsby Review
by Richard Mackie, editor and publisher
Word has reached me that an influential person in the BC arts community considers The Ormsby Review to be “irrelevant.” I am not sure where this person has been hiding for the first 4 ½ years of our existence. It is true that we proudly review many local and self-published books, but we have no desire to be elitist. Instead, we aim to be inclusive. We review books from BC’s many diverse communities and regions.
Because we now review 300 books a year — more than any other book review outlet in Canada — one would think that even the most refined or discerning critic might find something relevant in our eclectic output.
And if we are “irrelevant,” we are in excellent company. Last year we reviewed 25 of the books shortlisted by the 2020 BC and Yukon Book Prizes. So far this year, we have reviewed 15 of the shortlisted books on the 2021 BC and Yukon Book Prizes, and we have another 5 reviews in the pipeline.
Here are our reviews of the 15 shortlisted books, all published in 2020:
~ May Q Wong reviewed The Diary of Dukesang Wong: A Voice from Gold Mountain, by Dukesang Wong, edited by David McIlwraith, translated by Wanda Joy Hoe (Vancouver: Talonbooks)
~ Laurie Ricou reviewed Orphans of Empire, by Grant Buday (Victoria: TouchWood Editions [Brindle & Glass])
~ John Gellard reviewed British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer, by Claudia Cornwall (Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing)
~ Daniel Sims reviewed Kwanlin Dün: Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur – Our Story in Our Words, by Kwanlin Dün First Nation (Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing)
~ Brian Harvey reviewed The E.J. Hughes Book of Boats, by Robert Amos (Victoria: TouchWood Editions).
~ Jessica Poon reviewed Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History, by Eve Lazarus (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press).
~ Robert Hogg reviewed On the Cusp of Contact: Gender, Space, and Race in the Colonization of British Columbia, by Jean Barman, edited by Margery Fee (Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing).
~ Paul Headrick reviewed Primary Obsessions, by Charles Demers (Maderia Park: Douglas and McIntyre).
~ Theo Dombrowski reviewed The Certainties, by Aislinn Hunter (Toronto: Penguin Random House [Knopf]).
~ Jessica Poon reviewed Consent, by Annabel Lyon (Toronto: Penguin Random House).
~ Howard Macdonald Stewart reviewed A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, by Seth Klein (Toronto: ECW Press).
~ Theo Dombrowski reviewed Nerve: A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear, by Eve Holland (Toronto: Penguin Random House [Allen Lane]).
~ Valerie Green reviewed The Ride Home, by Gail Anderson-Dargatz (Victoria: Orca Books).
~ Elizabeth Bassett reviewed Beep Beep Bubbie, by Bonnie Sherr Klein (text) and Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal (Vancouver: Tradewind Books).
~ P.W. Bridgman reviewed Burning Province, by Michael Prior (Toronto: Penguin Random House [McClelland and Stewart])
~ We are awaiting reviews of three of the five books on the Jim Deva shortlist.
I’m sure many readers will join me in sending a hearty thanks and congratulations to the reviewers at Ormsby for their expertise, hard work, and high-quality reviews.
This might be a good opportunity to explain some of my work as a book reviews editor. I start looking for reviewers as soon as I hear of a book’s publication. I always rely on the friendly and prompt help of publishers across Canada to send out review copies. I do not assign books to reviewers; I give reviewers a choice of titles to select from. All this can take some time. And because book reviewers are human and sometimes slow, their reviews might take months to appear. Some reviews of 2020 books might not appear until Fall 2021.
I review books, if possible, in advance of prize announcements such as the BC and Yukon Book Prizes. Only 30 or 40 of the 300 books we review annually end up on short lists at the national or regional level. I am not clairvoyant; I don’t know which books will be shortlisted; I can’t guess in advance which ones will be selected for prizes — which is always a cause for celebration and sometimes surprise. At Ormsby we review books so that the public, and perhaps even overworked book prize juries, have a handy source of informed and pertinent opinion. (Please use the powerful search bar at the top right of this page to look for the book, author, or reviewer of your choice.)
The result is what I hope is a useful — and relevant — publication.
Finally, congratulations to the shortlisted authors in the BC and Yukon Book Prizes. We will be rooting for all of you at the Prize announcements on September 18th. — Richard Mackie
The Ormsby Review. More Books. More Reviews. More Often.
Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie
The Ormsby Review is a journal service for in-depth coverage of B.C. books and authors. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Cole Harris, Hugh Johnston, Patricia Roy, David Stouck, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Provincial Government Patron since September 2018: Creative BC
“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster