Announcing the 2016 Siskiyou Prize finalists

By John Yunker,

This is the third year of the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, and we’re pleased to see it gaining momentum and awareness. Now more than ever we need a chorus of creative and passionate voices speaking up for the planet and all of its species.

This year, we received more than a hundred submissions, which included a wide range of fiction, short story and essay collections, memoirs, nonfiction nature books, and a number of previously published works in all categories. We began reviewing submissions when the contest opened in September of last year and have been reading steadily since then.

Every manuscript was given careful consideration, and the decision-making process was very difficult, given the exceptional quality of this year’s entries. As much as we love this contest, the hardest part is having to narrow the list down to only a few titles. It’s a completely subjective process, of course, and we thank all who contributed their work to this year’s prize.

We are delighted to announce the finalists and semifinalists:

FINALISTS

Three Ways to Disappear
A novel by Katy Yocom

Small Small Redemption
Essays by Sangamithra Iyer

The Heart of the Sound
A memoir by Marybeth Holleman
Published by Bison Books

Song of the Ghost Dog
A novel by Sharon Piuser

SEMIFINALISTS

Karstland
A novel by Caroline Manring

Rumors of Wolves
A novel by C.K. Adams

The Harp-Maker of Exmoor
A novel by Hazel Prior

 

The four finalists will move on to final judging by JoeAnn Hart.

We hope to announce a winner in the next month or so. To be among the first to hear the announcement, stay tuned to this blog or subscribe to our newsletter.

Again, thanks to everyone who submitted and everyone who writes with the goal of making this world a better place. We appreciate your support!

The Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature

 

 

The amazing Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

By Midge Raymond,

When we were in Australia this fall, we were thrilled to encounter this pair of Sulphur-crested cockatoos while walking around in Manly.

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We were especially happy to see these birds in the wild after having previously met them only in fiction in Love and Ordinary Creatures, Gwyn Hyman Rubio’s gorgeous novel about a Sulphur-crested cockatoo named Caruso. In Gwyn’s novel, Caruso had been captured from the wild and sold as a pet (fortunately, this is no longer legal; the novel is set in the early 1990s when this was still happening to exotic birds); having the opportunity in Australia to watch them in their natural habitat, foraging for food, staying close to their mates, and cawing loudly wherever they go, was wonderful.

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It also reminded us what an important book Love and Ordinary Creatures is, for giving voice to a species of animal that is so often misunderstood. Gwyn captures this helplessness, longing, and angst so well in this novel, a love story that transcends species.

Love and Ordinary Creatures was inspired by Gwyn’s own journey to Australia with her husband more than fifteen years ago.

We were eating lunch in a delicatessen when a young Australian woman with long, tanned legs and tousled blond hair pedaled up and stopped in front of the deli window. A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was perched on the handlebars of her bike. Dismounting, she walked over to the parrot and learned toward him with puckered lips. Simultaneously, he lengthened his neck and raised his beak. Much to my amazement, they kissed— after which she came inside to pick up her order. While she was gone, the cockatoo kept his eyes on her. Not once did he look away. Not once did he try to fly off, even though his legs, I noticed, were untethered. A few minutes later, food in hand, the young woman left the deli, the cockatoo fluttering his wings and squawking with delight as she approached. “Now, that’s a bird in love,” I said to my husband when the two of them cycled off.

Learn more about Love and Ordinary Creatures here, and check out the novel’s book club kit for more insights.

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Dining well in Sydney, Australia, part three

By Midge Raymond,

When we needed to pick up some takeaway before a long hike from Sydney to Manly, we were thrilled to discover the all-vegan Iku Whole Food in downtown Sydney.

Iku Whole Food has several locations, and the one we went to was in the Westfield Mall on Pitt Street, upstairs in the food court.

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We were there early in the day and needed food that packed easily, so we didn’t try any of the delicious-looking soups or big salads on the menu.

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Instead, we got easy-to-travel-with wraps, which were wonderful — whole-wheat tortillas stuffed with brown rice, tofu, and veggies.

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We also got several raw desserts to go — the peanut butter and chocolate cookies were our favorites.

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It is so great to see a place like this — healthy, beautiful, and delicious vegan food — not only in general but especially in a shopping mall food court. Don’t miss this place for anything you need while traveling through Sydney.

  Category: On travel, Vegan
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Dining well in Sydney, Australia, part two

By Midge Raymond,

After our Writing about Animals seminar at the University of Sydney, we went to Vegan’s Choice in Sydney’s Newtown neighborhood.

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This small, cozy restaurant features myriad Asian dishes using mock meats, which are delicious if a bit awkward (it’s hard to order “vegetarian shark fin soup” even when you know it’s vegan).

We began with spinach dumplings, which were nothing short of amazing.

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The crispy chick’n was gorgeous with lovely spices.

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And the wonton soup, brimming with vegetables and vegan wontons, was delicious and filling.

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We also sampled a wanton soup that included tofu and just about every mock meat on the menu, from chick’n to vegan squid.

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Our only mistake was not saving room for dessert! Vegan’s Choice has several flavors of ice cream, as well as a beautiful assortment of pastries and tarts. (We will not make this mistake next time.)

Not only was this a wonderful meal for vegans, but it’s the perfect restaurant to visit with omnivores, who won’t miss anything at all with all the offerings on this menu.

Dining well in Sydney, Australia

By Midge Raymond,

Unfortunately, the new president-elect of the United States does not believe in climate change. The good news is that those of us who do can help the planet in so many ways — and eating plants is one of them.

Animal agriculture is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all methods of transportation combined. (Learn more about why being an environmentalist means not eating animals or animal products.)

And the very good news is that there are, worldwide, so many incredibly delicious places to eat plant-based foods (saving the planet is delicious!). Among them is a place we discovered in Sydney, Australia — the all-vegan restaurant Bodhi is a great treasure, not only for Sydney but for the planet.

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We stopped in for a late lunch one beautiful afternoon, and we got a seat by the window to enjoy the warm air and lovely breezes. The restaurant’s lovely inside was empty thanks to the gorgeous day…

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…but the patio was bustling.

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Lunch at Bodhi is vegan yum cha, and the menu varies daily. We began with fried wontons, which were perfect: fried to perfection and served with a lovely dipping sauce.

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We followed the wontons with Australian field mushroom dumplings, also scrumptious.

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It was nearly impossible to choose among all the delicious offerings, but next we went for the spicy konyaku noodles with carrots. This was a cold dish and delectably spicy.

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Next we had buns filled with “pork,” an old favorite of mine from when I used to live in Asia — but I haven’t had a vegan version and was thrilled to be able to enjoy them again. The buns are thick, soft, and slightly sweet, and the faux pork is tender and spicy.

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One of our favorite dishes was the fried tofu in rice noodle folds.

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And next (can you believe we are still eating at this point?), we sampled the tofu pockets with sprouts, mint, and carrots served with peanut sauce — these were terrific.

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Finally, though there was so much more we’d have loved to try, we called it a day and ordered dessert — blueberry doughnuts. These are Asian-style doughnuts, which have a distinctive flavor and are not at all like the typical American doughnut — these are less sweet, from the bread to the filling (but the powdered sugar makes up for this).

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Whenever you find yourself in Sydney, don’t miss this amazing restaurant; everything about it — the location, setting, and food — is just about perfect. It’s a beautiful place to be in the afternoon, and in the evening, with the garden lights and full bar, it’s even more festive.