Vancouver, October 27, 2008 - The news that the Hope in Shadows book has won the 2008 City of Vancouver Book Award came at the right time for Downtown Eastside residents who have been selling it on the street since April.
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press and Pivot Legal Society, the book is a bold collection of powerful photographs and personal stories that document the lives of residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. All the 2,000 copies available for the street sellers sold out in less than three months and the second printing edition will be available this week at a book reading event that has quickly also become a celebration of winning the book award.
The Heart of the City book reading is on Thursday October 30 at 7 p.m. at Spartacus Books (next door to Pivot Legal Society, 678 East Hastings Street). At least eight of the people who were featured in the book will read from it at the event. Also in attendance will be editors Brad Cran, poet, essayist and photographer, and Gillian Jerome, poet and English teacher at UBC who will present a certificate from the City of Vancouver to the residents.
The City of Vancouver independent jury cited the authors' work for its "surprising revelations about residents of the area who are not bound by poverty or addiction but instead driven by a sense of community, kinship and hope."
In his acceptance speech at Vancouver's City Hall on October 14, Brad Cran said, "we are thrilled to be honoured here at City Hall since many of the problems illustrated in Hope in Shadows can be solved in this building."
"This is not a book of solutions to social problems nor is it a book about activism," says Cran "we hope it's a book that inspires activism but really it's a book about empathy and understanding. We had one main goal with this book and that was to break down the social barrier between the people of the Downtown Eastside and the average reader. We simply wanted to present the Downtown Eastside as truthfully and respectfully as possible."
For the past five years, Pivot Legal Society's annual Hope in Shadows photography contest has empowered residents of the Downtown Eastside by providing them with disposable cameras to document their lives, resulting in more than 20,000 images of the neighborhood, giving residents an artistic means to enter the ongoing and stormy dialogue over the place they call home.
"Hope in Shadows ... succeeds in 'placing individuals within a context that reveals as much about other members of society as it does about them.' In so doing, it promotes the dignity of the individual and fosters greater respect, understanding and compassion for this community." Read book review of Hope in Shadows on Rabble.ca [ January 9, 2009]