Michael Christie wins City of Vancouver Book Award for The Beggar’s Garden
It’s success right out of the gate for rising author and onetime Vancouver resident Michael Christie. The insight and writing ability of the former Downtown Eastside outreach worker (as well as former professional skateboarder) was clear from the moment his debut short-story collection, The Beggar’s Garden (HarperCollins Canada), came out in January. The Straight’s own review said as much at the time, praising the book for depicting “wounded hearts with solemn authenticity” in its portraits of the homeless and mentally ill in the Downtown Eastside.
Now The Beggar’s Garden has claimed this year’s City of Vancouver Book Award, in a ceremony at City Hall this afternoon (October 18). The independent jury—made up of bookseller Emilie Dierking, poet Jim Wong-Chu, and author and former Vancouver Book Award winner Lee Henderson—selected Christie’s work for being not only “sensitive and playful” but “beautifully written”, according to a city hall media release. Mayor Gregor Robertson presented Christie with the $2,000 award, handed out annually “to authors of books in any genre that demonstrate excellence and enhance our understanding of Vancouver’s rich history and culture”.
The Beggar’s Garden was chosen from a field of four works that also included Lynne Bowen’s Whoever Gives Us Bread (Douglas & McIntyre), Wayde Compton’s Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region (Arsenal Pulp), and Lesley McKnight’s Vancouver Kids (Brindle & Glass).
Christie now lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with his wife and son.