A Cree-Métis-Icelandic writer's collection of stories is this year's winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award.
Carleigh Baker's Bad Endings (Anvil) was chosen over three others on the shortlist: Sam Wiebe's Invisible Dead, Gabrielle Prendergast's Pandas on the Eastside, and Susan Point: Spindle Wharf, by Grant Arnold, Ian M. Thom, Susan Point, Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Thomas Cannell, Myrtle Mckay, and William McLennon.
"Bad Endings deftly interweaves riddles, mysteries, and paradox," the jury stated. "Through the view of a multiplicity of Vancouvers, the sheen of the city's fast-paced, hyper-connected exterior wears thin, as characters come face to face with more authentic and complicated truths. Revelations arrive in the unexpected moments when the insignificant proves profound and the overlooked offers insight."
Baker received a $3,000 cash award. Bad Endings is her first book.
In a review in the Georgia Straight published in March, writer Brett Josef Grubisic noted that Baker "offers refreshing or off-kilter perspectives" on such subjects as love, connection, loss, and purpose.
"Her characters possess an abundance of hard-luck stories, true, but she writes them as sometimes wrong and sometimes foolish and hence eminently human in their fallibility," Grubisic noted.
Last month, Baker revealed to Straight readers that her understanding of storytelling was enhanced by Thomas King's The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. This came out of his 2003 CBC Massey Lectures.
King, who is also Métis, included one amusing story about how he sometimes didn't sometimes appear sufficiently Aboriginal for non-Indigenous audiences, so he changed his attire to address this.
"As an urban Métis who was raised outside her culture, this really resonated with me, and allowed me to laugh about my own insecurities," Baker wrote. "In The Truth About Stories, and I dare say everything King writes, he entertains and educates. His ability to confront hard truths with honesty and humour informs my storytelling to this day."