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Queer writer wins One Book, One Vancouver

Karen X Tulchinsky wins One Book, One Vancouver Credit: Photo courtesy of Karen X Tulchinsky

Queer writer Karen X Tulchinsky’s 2003 novel The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky is the winner of the Vancouver Public Library’s 2008 One Book, One Vancouver competition.

Tulchinsky says a shiver went through her when she heard her name announced Apr 23.

She took a cheering squad with her to the announcement for moral support.

“Being queer, they were not sedate in their response,” she says. “The librarians were probably inside going: ‘Sssshhhhhhh.'”

Tulchinsky’s novel deals with the experiences of Toronto’s Jewish Depression-era community.

The tale is spun around a 1933 riot which pitted Jews and Italians against Anglo-Canadians after several youths unfurled a banner with the legend “Heil Hitler.”

The Toronto-native’s novel is narrated by a gay Simon Fraser University (SFU) history professor telling the tale of his boxer father, Sonny ‘The Charger’ Lapinsky, a world-champion boxer.

The library’s director of youth services and community relations, Janice Douglas, says the “superbly crafted novel” captured the judging committee’s imagination.

“We believe this book deserves to be read and that Vancouverites and Canadians will be fascinated by the little-known story at its core,” Douglas says.

Tulchinsky edged out fellow Xtra West contributor Ivan E Coyote’s Loose End and SFU professor David Chariandy’s Soucouyant.

One Book, One Vancouver events, including author readings, film screenings and even a boxing exhibition at Library Square, are planned from May to September 2008 to celebrate the book’s themes.

The launch of this year’s activities around Tulchinsky’s book is May 1 at the main library at 7:30 pm.

The writer is excited about the boxing.

“I’m hoping I can get in the ring and they’ll show me a few moves,” she says. “I hope I don’t hurt them.”