Judy Shultz former food writer for the Edmonton Journal has been named a contender for this year’s Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize. Judy Schultz is nominated for Freddy’s War, which tells the story of a young Canadian man who is captured and taken as a prisoner of war in China during the Second World War. The annual Edmonton book prize was created in 2004, and was awarded in Edmonton on Monday night at the Mayor’s Celebration for the Arts, where the winner receives $10,000. Also nominated for the prize were Wendy McGrath for Santa Rosa (NeWest Press) and Dawn Dumont for Nobody Cries Bingo (Thistledown Press).
With this novel, Schultz said she was inspired by childhood memories of her own parents’ friends returning from the war and trying to reintegrate into their old lives.
My inspiration for Freddy’s War was a friend of my dad’s, a man who survived the battle of Hong Kong, but never recovered from it. He brought back a Chinese wife, a lovely woman who suffered along with him until, in the end, she could no longer tolerate what he had become,” she said. “At that time we lived in an isolated northern Manitoba community, one much like the place described in Freddy’s War. The end of the Second World War brought us several veterans, including some from the Winnipeg Grenadiers, Freddy’s ill-fated regiment. These men and their families were part of my early childhood.
Although this is Schultz’s 11th book, it is her first work of fiction, which she said was more challenging to write and it took her nearly 10 years to complete.
I’m a pacifist. I abhor violence in any form,” Schultz said. “But, as a writer researching this book, I was forced to try to understand the violence, the cruelty of the Japanese army at that time, and the fact that two Canadian regiments were sacrificed in a commitment to a battle they had no hope of winning. The history of the Grenadiers is so bloody and awful, the miracle is that any of them survived.
The former Edmonton Journal food columnist said her background in journalism definitely helped her in the creation of this novel, with her refined ability to research.
I’ve always written about food and travel, but I researched almost every story from a larger viewpoint: history, politics, geography, science and especially the human relationships that are built around how and why we eat as we do,” Schultz said. “Wars are fought over the politics of food. Always have been; maybe always will be.
As for what’s next for the author, who splits her time between Sherwood Park and New Zealand, she is currently working on a series of crime novels.
Schultz is currently in New Zealand, but she said she plans to make her return to Canada this month.
The annual Edmonton book prize was created in 2004, and was awarded on Monday night at the Mayor’s Celebration for the Arts, where the winner receives $10,000.
blurb of Freddy’s War from Brindle & Glass Publisher’s Website:
In 1941, a young man imagines thrilling battles and heroic acts when he lies about his age and joins the army. ?Assigned to the Winnipeg Grenadiers, part of the Canadian army in Hong Kong, Freddy McKee becomes a prisoner of war six weeks after arriving in Hong Kong.
Five years pass and Freddy finally returns home from the war, but three women—Joanna Keegan, her daughter Hope, and the beautiful and mysterious Su Li—feel echoes of Freddy’s ordeal in each of their lives. For Freddy, the memory of war is a heavier burden than the weapon he once carried. Freddy must fight to survive in a world that has left him behind.
Veterans traditionally have never shared the hell of their war. Often the only way to get close to their experiences is via skillful fiction. Gritty and well-researched, Freddy’s War takes us to the siege of Hong Kong and back.
Ted Barris, author and military historian
Wartime love stories are the stuff of cliché, but there’s no false sentimentality in Freddy’s War. With a cool reporter’s eye, Schultz draws on her deep knowledge of China, and of prairie social history, to craft an understated, elegaic story of loneliness, loss, and dislocation.
Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal
by Rene from goodreads.com.
This is a powerful, remarkable novel about a life gone wrong due to the horrors of war. How many lives of how many good-hearted persons like Freddy got derailed, with little help available or possible to help them through the pain of ever-lasting and painful memories… The slight error regarding the year of the end of WWII with Japan(put on two occasions as being August 1946) does not diminish the value of this account, told from different angles. A must-read.
Preview the book online or purchase in five other formats at the Brindle & Glass Publisher’s website.
About Judy Schultz
Judy Schultz is a nationally renowned travel and food writer, the author of ten books, and the winner of numerous awards. Her publications include Looking for China: Travels on a Silk Road, Mamie’s Children: Three Generations of Prairie Women, Nibbles and Feasts, and Jean Pare: Appetite for Life. She also co-authored The Food Lover’s Guide to Alberta, Volumes 1 and 2. Judy divides her time between Alberta and New Zealand, and devotes her attention to travelling, cooking, and writing.