Short Biographies of the 2008 Judges
Sally Ito (chair of the nonfiction panel) is the author of two books of poetry, Frogs in the Rain Barrel and Season of Mercy, and a collection of short stories, Floating Shore. She has published widely in literary magazines in Canada as well as having written book reviews for the Globe and Mail in Toronto, the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, and the Pacific Reader in Seattle. Ito studied at the University of British Columbia and holds a master’s degree from University of Alberta. She is currently working on a novel.
Bridget Boylan is a librarian with the San Francisco Public Library. During 15 years as a librarian, a significant portion of her experience has been with institutions whose collections focus on West Coast environmental issues. Before this, she worked in Bay Area book and newspaper publishing for a number of years. In one early editorial project, she enjoyed being part of the initial staff of an Oakland journal devoted to international women's news. She studied book arts at Mills College and graduated with a degree in General Studies.
Janet Brown has always lived on the Pacific Rim, in Alaska, Seattle and Thailand. A bookseller for twenty years, she was until recently travel buyer at Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company where she edited the store's bimonthly book review, Booknotes. She is now busy reinventing her life, writing, taking classes, preparing a book of essays for publication, and planning a move to the city that she loves best in the world, Bangkok.
Alma Lee was born and educated in Scotland. She was the founding Artistic Director of the prestigious Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. She also was the founding Director of The Writers' Union of Canada and The Writers' Trust. Alma recently left the Vancouver Writers Festival to pursue a project to have Vancouver designated as a UNESCO World City of Literature. In 2006 she was invested with an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University and was also invested into the Order of Canada.
Joanne Sandstrom is the semi-retired managing editor at the Institute of East Asian Studies University of California, Berkeley (UCB), where she has brought more than a hundred works from manuscript to bound book. She has twice hiked California's 211-mile John Muir Trail and twice sailed around the world. She is the author of a travel memoir, There and Back Again, and of numerous articles about their second circumnavigation. Sandstrom holds a bachelor's degree from UCB and a master's from California State University, Long Beach.
Abby Pollak (chair of the fiction panel) is a former professor of comparative literature, translates books from the French, the most recent being Facing the Extreme by Tzvetan Todorov. She has written numerous academic articles, but switched to short stories about fifteen years ago and never looked back. A member of the first group (1958) of postwar exchange students to Japan, she fell in love with the language, the food, the gardens, monks in orange robes, and long soaks in wooden tubs filled with scalding water. She is currently at work on a novel about moving mothers.
Alan Cheuse is a fiction writer, journalist, and the book commentator for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” He is the author, among other books, of the novels The Grandmothers’ Club, and The Light Possessed, the short story collections Lost and Old Rivers and The Tennessee Waltz, a memoir, Fall Out of Heaven, and Listening to the Page: Adventures in Reading and Writing. He is the editor of Seeing Ourselves: Great Stories of America's Past and co-editor of Writers Workshop in a Book: The Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction. His most recent work of fiction is The Fires (September 2007).
Pam Chun is the author of The Money Dragon (2002) and When Strange Gods Call (2005)—both of which were recognized with the Hawaiian Publishing Association's Kapalapala Po'okela Awards—and of a forthcoming third novel. Chun graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley where she served on the Alumni Association's Board of Directors. She is on the executive advisory board of the University of San Francisco Center for the Pacific Rim. Chun lectures widely and is a storyteller at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.
Judy Stoffman spent 11 years as literary reporter for the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily. Before that, she was the paper's book review editor. She has also worked for Canadian magazines and for CBC radio and television. Born in Hungary, she fled as a child after the 1956 uprising. She has degrees in English literature from University of British Columbia and Sussex University in England. With her husband Daniel, she was the translator of In the Name of the Working Class (Grove Press). Stoffman has had two grants from the Asia Pacific Foundation to do research in Japan, a country whose culture fascinates her.
Madeleine Thien is the author of Simple Recipes (2002), a collection of stories, and The Chinese Violin, a children's book written in collaboration with artist and filmmaker Joe Chang. Her most recent book, Certainty, was a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Book Prize and the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and has been translated into 14 languages. Thien received her Master's degree in creative writing from University of British Columbia. Born in Vancouver, Canada, Madeleine has lived in the Netherlands and in Quebec City, and has traveled widely in Southeast Asia. She currently lives in Montreal.