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Joel Bakan, author of Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children, is the winner of the ninth annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, sponsored by Okanagan College.
The award was announced at the Word Ruckus event, which took place Saturday at the Laurel Packinghouse in Kelowna.
“The aim of the George Ryga Award is to acknowledge B.C. authors whose books shed light on the dark side of our society and urge us to take action,” said Okanagan College English and Women’s Studies Professor Norah Bowman-Broz, who organizes the award.
“Bakan’s book helps the reader understand how much businesses – like the pharmaceutical industry, multimedia organizations, and manufactured food companies – have gained access to our children’s bodies and minds, and reminds us of the responsibility we have to our children today.”
Childhood Under Siege, published by Penguin Canada and now available in both the U.S. and the U.K, was one of more than 50 entries in the competition.
“I am honoured and humbled to be receiving this award, especially because of my admiration for George Ryga and his remarkable ability to deliver powerful messages about social justice through art and literature,” Bakan said.
Bakan will be in Kelowna April 8 to hold a reading and discussion about his book at 7 p.m. at the Bohemian Café.
A law professor based in Vancouver, Bakan is known to many across North America as the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling book The Corporation and the award-winning maker of the renowned film based on it.
He said he was moved to write this book when he began asking questions as a parent of two young children, now teenagers.
“The animating idea behind my book was inspired in part by Nelson Mandela who once said that the keenest revelation of the soul of a society is the way it treats its children,” he said. “My hope is that this book not only illuminates the issues about childhood today, but holds up a mirror to ourselves as a society – a first step for understanding how we can do better.”
Shortlisted finalists alongside Bakan are Michael Christie, for his book The Beggar’s Garden, and Howard White for A Hard Man to Beat: the Story of Bill White.
The previous Ryga Award went to Richard Wagamese for his book One Story, One Song. Wagamese’s work Indian Horse was recently championed on CBC Radio’s Canada Reads.
The George Ryga Award receives support from the Canada Council for the Arts, BC BookWorld and Okanagan College.
For more information about the awards, visit the website at www.okanagan.bc.ca/ryga.