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2017 Winner of the BC National Nonfiction Award

abstract: Bookbuffet attended the BC National Nonfiction Prize again this year. This is a Canada-wide competition in its 13th year. It is the only national prize based from the West Coast. Congratulation to this year's recipient, Sandra Martin. Sandra takes home $40,000 for her book A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices published by Patrick Crean Editions/Harper Collins (April 12 2016).

The book deals with an issue facing us all, given Canada's aging demographic and the reality of health statistics at this end of this spectrum. Whether it is the decline of an aging parent or a family member suffering from a devastating and irrecoverable illness, the question will eventually arise -- at what point does bearable cross over to unbearable, and when that time comes, what are our rights, to whom shall we turn, and how does society ensure a process exists to both serve and protect the concept of dying with dignity?

History and the courts have witnessed a seesaw stance where


January 27, 2017
— personal rights and freedoms have been pitted against a legal quagmire of changing morals, institutional bureaucracy, and pressure from special interest groups that places individuals and civil liberty organizations in a pendulum of opposing judgments made in our supreme court. The book serves to inform as well as prepare readers about the circumstance we shall all face. Kudos to the author for tackling this difficult subject with compassion, meticulous research, and perspective.

Martin is an award-winning author and journalist with 5 books to her credit and a long career writing for top newspapers and magazines on topics ranging from the arts to politics, healthcare, and social issues. Her website is

As for the other shortlisted authors and their erudite presenters, it was an impressive field that stood on the podium describing their books and their craft, delineating their relative impact and importance. The ceremony was held at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel facing the downtown Vancouver harbour. This is the 13th year of the award which is presented by the BC Achievement Foundation, a non-profit organization that celebrates excellence in achievement of art and culture in BC and in Canada. The annual luncheon is heartily anticipated in the calendars of "people of the book" - publishers, literary agents, library professionals, booksellers and the media who take a keen interest in our literary culture with BCs Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Honorable Peter Fassbender on hand to give out the award.

This year's MC was Scott McIntyre, one of the founding award committee members and a Canadian publishing luminary. McIntyre was thrilled to report that reading rates and published books in print form are on the rise - not the decline - against digital forms.

The jury this year consisted of Hal Wake, Director of the Vancouver International Writers Festival; John Burns, Editorial Director of Echo Storytelling Agency with 25 years in print media, and Jan Walter who is an avid bibliophile that has seen-and-done-it-all in books from store-owner to magazine and publishing house editor to chair of the Kingston Writers Fest board. They faced the daunting task of reading 141 books submitted by 46 publishers from all across the nation.

The other 2017 finalists were:

  • Taras Grescoe for "Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War,"
  • Robert Moor for "On Trails: An Exploration" and
  • Alexandra Shimo for "Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve."
  • We purchased copies of each of the books at the event, to which all sales proceeds are donated to a literary non-profit. Look for our review of each of them in close succession, and let us know which ones you've read and what you think! info @



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