You’re likely no stranger to Burnaby’s natural surface beauty, so we won’t harp on about the allure of Deer Lake at sunrise or Burnaby Mountain Park when a layer of fog hovers just below the skyline – at least not this time.
No, it’s time we looked deeper. Burnaby is home to some fantastic minds, both academic and creative. Is it because we’ve got one of Western Canada’s top universities? Or just because we’re a hotbed for culture and refined tastes? Whatever the reason, we’re happy to point you towards some books by writers that were born, raised, or moved here so you can bask in the prose of some of our local wordsmiths on this, especially bookish holiday on November 1st!
The Wind is Not a River
By Brian Payton
A creative writing instructor at SFU, Payton’s novel is a story of survival and enduring love during wartime. Separated by the only WW2 battle to take place on US soil, the couple fight to reunite in the stark and gorgeous beauty of Alaska’s wilderness. A best-selling author, Payton has also written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe.
By Jen Sookfong Lee
Sookfong Lee’s novel begins with its protagonist Jessica discovering two bodies in the family freezer after her mother’s funeral. A startling journey follows as Jessica unravels the dark stories surrounding who she once thought of as the perfect mother. Sookfong Lee is currently a resident of North Burnaby.
By Irina Kovalyova
Another SFU instructor, Kovalyova originally hails from Russia. Her 2015 collection of stories won The Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Fiction, and was a finalist for The 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. The included stories span the realm of science and travel to unfamiliar landscapes while still capturing the most fundamental of human emotions, love and heartbreak.
Someone Youn Love is Gone
By Gurjinder Basran
A revealing story about the struggles and subtleties of family, award-winner Basran tells an intimate story that spans continents and generations. Basran’s lyrical style here is equally haunting and mesmerizing.
Nighthawk & Little Elk
By Ilonka Kuhl-Harris
Published under the pen name Eelonqa K harris, this debut graphic novel is where Indigenous legend meets fairytale. A wicked foster mother, transformations and evil spells, each staple of folklore are given new weight through the lens of contemporary native storytelling. Equally suspenseful and educational, this book began as teaching material for school-aged children. However, both adults and kids can benefit from the narrative lessons here. Harris currently teaches at Byrne Creek Community School in Burnaby.
In My World
By Jillian Ma
An imaginative and easy-to-follow story, this children’s book centres on an autistic boy who strives to be accepted for his strengths and abilities. A fantastic tale for kids about the importance of celebrating our differences and an inspiring reminder for anyone on the spectrum.
By Michael Buble
What the heck, we may as well throw this guy in as well!
Undoubtedly one of the more famous voices to come out of Burnaby, Buble’s autobiography tells how he became one of the most prominent singers of his generation. Told with candour and humour, this is a bio that doesn’t mince words about the reality behind fame.