The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists

Our 70 best books of 2019

October 02, 2019
Finalists Banner Press eng

Ottawa, October 2, 2019 – Today, the Canada Council for the Arts revealed the 2019 finalists for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks).

Following a rigorous process, peer assessment committees determined that these 70 books were the best to have been published in Canada in seven categories, in both French and in English. They stood out from among some 1,400 books submitted to the committees.

By addressing issues we care about, igniting our imaginations, choosing the right words or brilliantly transposing a story into illustrations, the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists stoke the fire not only of our shared cultural life, but of our individual lives as well. They represent the richness, strength and excellence of Canadian literature.

- Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts

Dates to mark in your calendar:

  • October 29: The 14 winners will be announced on ggbooks.ca
  • December 12: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will host a ceremony to celebrate the winners at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
  • Later this fall: The public will be invited to meet with the GGBooks winners at public readings in Ottawa.

About the GGBooks:

  • Founded in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary award programs, with a total annual prize value of $450,000.
  • The Canada Council for the Arts has funded, administered and promoted the awards since 1959.
  • Finalists are selected by category-specific, language-based peer assessment committees (seven in English and seven in French), who consider eligible books published between September 1st, 2018, and September 30, 2019, for English-language books and between July 1st, 2018, and June 30, 2019, for French-language books.
  • Each winner receives $25,000, with the publisher receiving $3,000 to promote the winning book. Finalists receive $1,000 each.

2019 English-language finalists (seven categories)

Fiction:

  • Eye – Marianne Micros (Guelph, Ont.)
    Guernica Editions
  • Five Wives – Joan Thomas (Winnipeg, Man.)
    Harper Avenue/HarperCollins Publishers
  • Late Breaking – K.D. Miller (Toronto, Ont.)
    Biblioasis
  • The Innocents – Michael Crummey (St. John's, Nfld.)
    Doubleday Canada/Penguin Random House Canada
  • The Student – Cary Fagan (Toronto, Ont.)
    Freehand Books

Poetry:

  • Holy Wild – Gwen Benaway (Toronto, Ont.)
    Book*hug
  • How to Avoid Huge Ships – Julie Bruck (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Brick Books
  • St. Boniface Elegies – Catherine Hunter (Winnipeg, Man.)
    Signature Editions
  • The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Ecology – Karen Houle (Guelph, Ont.)
    Gaspereau Press
  • Treaty # – Armand Garnet Ruffo (Kingston, Ont.)
    Buckrider Books/Wolsak and Wynn Publishers

Drama:

  • 1 Hour Photo – Tetsuro Shigematsu (North Vancouver, B.C.)
    Talonbooks
  • Other Side of the Game – Amanda Parris (Toronto, Ont.)
    Playwrights Canada Press
  • Thanks for Giving – Kevin Loring (Ottawa, Ont.)
    Talonbooks
  • The Fighting Season – Sean Harris Oliver (Vancouver, B.C.)
    Scirocco Drama/J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
  • What a Young Wife Ought to Know – Hannah Moscovitch (Halifax, N.S.)
    Playwrights Canada Pres

Non-Fiction:

  • City of Omens: A Search for the Missing Women of the Borderlands – Dan Werb (Toronto, Ont.)
    Bloomsbury
  • Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times – Alan Walker (Ancaster, Ont.)
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father – Brian Harvey (Nanaimo, B.C.)
    ECW Press
  • Tiny Lights for Travellers – Naomi K. Lewis (Calgary, Alta.)
    University of Alberta Press
  • To the River: Losing My Brother – Don Gillmor (Toronto, Ont.)
    Random House Canada/Penguin Random House Canada

Young People’s Literature – Text:

  • Break in Case of Emergency – Brian Francis (Toronto, Ont.)
    HarperCollins Publishers
  • Cold White Sun – Sue Farrell Holler (Grande Prairie, Alta.)
    Groundwood Books
  • Girl of the Southern Sea – Michelle Kadarusman (Toronto, Ont.)
    Pajama Press
  • Stand on the Sky – Erin Bow (Kitchener, Ont.)
    Scholastic Canada
  • The Grey Sisters – Jo Treggiari (Lunenburg, N.S.)
    Penguin Teen/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • Albert's Quiet Quest – Isabelle Arsenault (Montréal, Que.)
    Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers
  • Birdsong – Julie Flett (Vancouver, B.C.)
    Greystone Books
  • How to Give Your Cat a Bath – Nicola Winstanley and John Martz (Hamilton/Toronto, Ont.)
    Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers
  • King Mouse – Cary Fagan and Dena Seiferling (Toronto, Ont./Calgary, Alta.)
    Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers
  • Small in the City – Sydney Smith (Halifax, N.S.)
    Groundwood Books

Translation (from French to English):

  • 887 – Translated by Louisa Blair (Québec, Que.)
    House of Anansi Press; translation of 887 by Robert Lepage, L'instant même
  • Birds of a Kind – Translated by Linda Gaboriau (Montréal, Que.)
    Playwrights Canada Press; translation of Tous des oiseaux by Wajdi Mouawad, Leméac/Actes Sud-Papiers
  • Synapses – Translated by Pablo Strauss (Québec, Que.)
    Talonbooks; translation of Synapses by Simon Brousseau, Le Cheval d'août
  • The Embalmer – Translated by Rhonda Mullins (Montréal, Que.)
    Coach House Books; translation of L'embaumeur by Anne-Renée Caillé, Héliotrope
  • Vi – Translated by Sheila Fischman (Montréal, Que.)
    Random House Canada/Penguin Random House Canada; translation of Vi by Kim Thúy, Éditions Libre Expression

2019 French-language finalists (seven categories)

Fiction:

  • La Minotaure – Mariève Maréchale (Montréal, Que.)
    Triptyque, Groupe Nota bene
  • La terre – Sylvie Drapeau (Montréal, Que.)
    Leméac Éditeur
  • Le drap blanc – Céline Huyghebaert (Montréal, Que.)
    Le Quartanier
  • Maisons fauves – Éléonore Goldberg (Montréal, Que.)
    Triptyque, Groupe Nota bene
  • Mina parmi les ombresEdem Awumey (Gatineau, Que.)
    Les Éditions du Boréal

Poetry:

  • Fastes – Chloé Savoie-Bernard (Montréal, Que.)
    L'Hexagone, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature
  • La cuisine mortuaire – Louise Marois (Saint-Venant-de-Paquette, Que.)
    Triptyque, Groupe Nota bene
  • La part habitée du ciel – Michel Létourneau (Rivière-du-Loup, Que.)
    Écrits des Forges
  • Le tendon et l'os – Anne-Marie Desmeules (Lévis, Que.)
    L'Hexagone, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature
  • Portages – Louis-Thomas Plamondon (Montréal, Que.)
    La Peuplade

Drama:

  • ColoniséEs – Annick Lefebvre (Montréal, Que.)
    Dramaturges Éditeurs
  • Et si un soir – Lisa L'Heureux (Ottawa, Ont.)
    Éditions Prise de parole
  • Havre – Mishka Lavigne (Gatineau, Que.)
    Les Éditions L'Interligne
  • La nuit du 4 au 5 – Rachel Graton (Montréal, Que.)
    Dramaturges Éditeurs
  • La vie utile précédé de Errance et tremblements – Evelyne de la Chenelière (Montréal, Que.)
    Les Herbes rouges

Non-Fiction:

  • Cartographie des vivants – Sarah Brunet Dragon (Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que.)
    Les Éditions du Noroît
  • Clin d'œil au Temps qui passe – Antonine Maillet (Montréal, Que.)
    Leméac Éditeur
  • La prose d'Alain Grandbois. Ou lire et relire Les voyages de Marco Polo – Patrick Moreau (Montréal, Que.)
    Nota bene
  • La Société des grands fonds – Daniel Canty (Montréal, Que.)
    La Peuplade
  • Le droit du plus fort : nos dommages, leurs intérêts – Anne-Marie Voisard (Montréal, Que.)
    Les Éditions Écosociété

Young People’s Literature – Text:

  • Au carrefour – Jean-François Sénéchal (Saint-Lambert, Que.)
    Leméac Éditeur
  • Dans le cœur de Florence – Lucie Bergeron (Québec, Que.)
    Soulières éditeur
  • L'albatros et la mésange – Dominique Demers (Montréal, Que.)
    Éditions Québec Amérique
  • Mon cœur après la pluie – Pierre Labrie (Longueuil, Que.)
    Soulières éditeur
  • Où est ma maison? – Édith Bourget (Saint-Jacques, N.B.)
    Les éditions du soleil de minuit

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • Contacts – Mélanie Leclerc (Saint-Lazare, Que.)
    Mécanique générale
  • Jack et le temps perdu – Stéphanie Lapointe and Delphie Côté-Lacroix (Montréal, Que.)
    Quai no 5, Les Éditions XYZ
  • L'escapade de Paolo – Lucie Papineau and Lucie Crovatto (Longueuil/Québec, Que.)
    Les Éditions de la Bagnole
  • Laurent, c'est moi! – Stéphanie Deslauriers and Geneviève Desprès (Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot/Saint-Lambert, Que.)
    Fonfon
  • Le pelleteur de nuages – Simon Boulerice and Josée Bisaillon (Montréal/Longueuil, Que.)
    la courte échelle

Translation (from English to French):

  • L'animal langage : la compétence linguistique humaine – Translated by Nicolas Calvé (Montréal, Que.)
    Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity by Charles Taylor, Harvard University Press
  • Le Yiddish à l'usage des pirates – Translated by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné (Montréal, Que.)
    Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin, Vintage Canada
  • Nous qui n'étions rien – Translated by Catherine Leroux (Montréal, Que.)
    Éditions Alto; translation of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, Knopf Canada
  • Onze jours en septembre – Translated by Sophie Voillot (Montréal, Que.)
    Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of Lost in September by Kathleen Winter, Knopf Canada
  • Pilleurs de rêves – Translated by Madeleine Stratford (Ottawa, Ont.)
    Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, DCB/Cormorant Books

Composition of the English-language peer assessment committees for 2019:

Fiction: Aislinn Hunter, Wayne Johnston and Saleema Nawaz
Poetry: Lesley Belleau, Méira Cook and Allan Cooper
Theatre: Maja Ardal, Megan Gail Coles and Curtis Peeteetuce
Non-Fiction: Ross King, Rachel Lebowitz and Marina Nemat
Young People’s Literature – Text: Kagiso Lesego Molope, Kenneth Oppel and Ellen Schwartz
Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books: Shauntay Grant, Jon Klassen and Kathryn Shoemaker
Translation (from French to English): Nicola Danby, Wayne Grady and Maureen Labonté

Composition of the French-language peer assessment committees for 2019:

Fiction: Hervé Bouchard, Blaise Ndala and Élise Turcotte
Poetry: Nora Atalla, Maggie Roussel and Christian Roy
Theatre: Normand Canac-Marquis, Miriam Cusson and Talia Hallmona
Non-Fiction: Louis Hamelin, Rachida M’Faddel and Paul Savoie
Young People’s Literature – Text: Marie-Célie Agnant, Jocelyn Boisvert and Karen Olsen
Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books: Nahid Kazemi, Diane Carmel Léger and François Thisdale
Translation (from English to French): Myriam Legault, Hélène Rioux and Michel Saint-Germain

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council champions and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants, services, prizes and payments to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. It is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO in Canada to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future. The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends yearly payments to authors whose works are in Canada’s public libraries. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

Media contacts

To book interviews with the finalists:
Charlene Coy, C2C Communications
416-451-1471
charlene@c2ccommunications.com

Canada Council for the Arts
Joly-Anne Ricard
Communications Advisor
1-800-263-5588, ext. 4166 or
343-998-2627 (cell)
joly-anne.ricard@canadacouncil.ca

Rideau Hall contact:
Josephine Laframboise
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-668-1929 (cellphone)
josephine.laframboise@gg.ca