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Two of three One Book One City finalists are queer

Two queer Vancouver writers have snagged themselves spots on the three-book short list for Vancouver Public Library’s One Book One City program.

Seven library workers read for five months before narrowing the best-book category down to Ivan E Coyote’s Loose End, Karen X Tulchinsky’s The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky and David Chariandy’s Soucouyant.

“Two out of three ain’t bad,” says Tulchinsky. She and Coyote are both queer, while Chariandy is a married father of two.

Coyote says she’s honoured to have been shortlisted.

“I feel great about it,” she says. “I love librarians. They’re the most organized force we’ve got for anti-censorship in North America.

“It’s not like I got picked by a bunch of hockey players.”

Coyote’s series of queer short stories (drawn from her regular Xtra West column) are predominantly set in East Vancouver. She is scheduled to read at the library in May. Tulchinsky’s novel deals with the Jewish experience in Toronto around the 1933 riot which pitted Jews and Italians against Anglo-Canadians after several youths unfurled a banner with the legend “Heil Hitler.”

About 10,000 people were involved in the riot at an amateur baseball tournament.
Tulchinsky’s book is narrated by a fictional gay Simon Fraser University (SFU) history professor telling the tale of his boxer father.

“The impetus of the book is the stories of my grandfather who emigrated from Russia and raised his family during that period,” she says.

Soucouyant, a Caribbean-influenced text set in Toronto, is the first book for Chariandy, who teaches English at SFU. It was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for English fiction in 2007.

The winner will be announced Apr 23 by Mayor Sam Sullivan. This is One Book One City’s seventh year.