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BC Yukon Book Prizes Finalists' Reading with Darrel J. McLeod, David Norwell, and Chelsea Wakelyn!


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Please join Munro’s Books in celebrating three local authors who are finalists for 2024 BC Yukon Book Prizes: 

Darrel J. McLeod, finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for A Season in Chezgh'un

David Norwell, finalist for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize for A Complex Coast: A Kayak Journey From Vancouver Island to Alaska

Chelsea Wakelyn, finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for What Remains of Elsie Jane

A Season in Chezgh'un is a subversive novel by acclaimed Cree author Darrel J. McLeod, infused with the contradictory triumph and pain of finding conventional success in a world that feels alien. James, a talented and conflicted Cree man from a tiny settlement in Northern Alberta, has settled into a comfortable middle-class life in Kitsilano, a trendy neighbourhood of Vancouver. He is living the life he had once dreamed of—travel, a charming circle of sophisticated friends, a promising career and a loving relationship with a caring man—but he chafes at being assimilated into mainstream society, removed from his people and culture. The untimely death of James’s mother, his only link to his extended family and community, propels him into a quest to reconnect with his roots. He secures a job as a principal in a remote northern Dakelh community but quickly learns that life there isn’t the fix he’d hoped it would be: His encounters with poverty, cultural disruption and abuse conjure ghosts from his past that drive him toward self-destruction. During the single year he spends in northern BC, James takes solace in the richness of the Dakelh culture—the indomitable spirit of the people, and the splendour of nature—all the while fighting to keep his dark side from destroying his life.

DARREL J. MCLEOD is Cree from Treaty-8 territory in Northern Alberta. Before deciding to pursue writing, he worked as an educator, chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French literature and education from the University of British Columbia. He is the author of two memoirs: the award-winning Mamaskatch (2018; winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction; shortlisted for many other major prizes; translated into French and German editions), followed by Peyakow (2021) which was also shortlisted for several literary prizes. He currently lives in Sooke, BC, and divides his time between writing and singing in a jazz band.


A Complex Coast is a soul-searching personal account of a young man’s 1,700-kilometre kayak journey from Victoria, BC, to Gustavas, Alaska, illustrated with whimsical watercolour maps and illustrations of local flora, fauna, and landscapes. In 2014, twenty-four-year-old geography student David Norwell set off on a daunting kayak journey in search of purpose in his life. A jigsaw puzzle of jagged mainland and over 50,000 islands—stretching from southern Vancouver Island to Alaska—lay in front of him. A self-described ordinary kid from small-to-medium-town, British Columbia, David had paddled through the Gulf Islands and guided youth groups on a nine-day journey from Nanaimo to Victoria. But nothing could prepare him for this. For the next several months, David navigated the waters off the coastal British Columbia, recording his observations, musings, and daily activities in a notebook. The result is this one-of-a-kind travelogue, filled with more than 700 whimsical watercolour illustrations of coastlines, local plant and animal species, camping supplies, and portraits of people he met along the way. He wrote about the nature of solitude, the search for meaning and adventure, the wildlife he encountered, the survival skills he acquired, and the existence of his own privilege. A Complex Coast is an unforgettable coming-of-age story that will appeal to kayakers, naturalists, and anyone looking for adventure.

DAVID NORWELL is an author, illustrator, and world traveller. He holds a BSc in Geography from the University of Victoria, and has worked for six seasons conducting biological and geological surveys In BC, Alberta, and the Yukon. His passion is communicating science in a way that accesses the human heart. David has visited thirty-three countries, sailed across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, trekked over the Himalayas with a kitten, and hitchhiked over two hundred rides. He is dedicated to understanding the human experience and sharing his findings. When not working on books, he is volunteering at schools, studying Buddhism, and practising meditation.


What Remains of Elsie Jane is a heartbreaking and darkly funny portrait of a woman unravelling in the wake of tragedy. Sam is dead, which means that Elsie Jane has just lost the brilliant, sensitive man she planned to grow old with. The early days of grief are a fog of work and single parenting. Too restless to sleep, Elsie pores over Sam's old love letters, paces her house, and bickers with the ghosts of Sam and her dead parents night after night. As the year unfolds, she develops an obsession with a local murder mystery, attends a series of disastrous internet dates in search of a "replacement soulmate," and solicits a space-time wizard via Craigslist, convinced he will help her forge a path through the cosmos back to Sam. Examining the ceaseless labour of motherhood, the stigma of death by drug poisoning, and the allure of magical thinking in the wake of tragedy, What Remains of Elsie Jane is a heart-splitting reminder that grief is born from the depths of love.

CHELSEA WAKELYN is a writer, musician, and mother to two lovely, eccentric humans. She lives on Vancouver Island.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 5th at 7:00 p.m. (doors at 6:30).

WHERE: In-store at Munro's Books, 1108 Government Street in Victoria.

WHAT: Readings from three BC Yukon Book Prizes finalists: Darrel J. McLeod, David Norwell, and Chelsea Wakelyn.

HOW: This event is free to attend.

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