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Giller Prize–winning author Bonnie Burnard dies at 72

bonnieburnardAward-winning Regina-born author Bonnie Burnard, best known for her debut novel, A Good House, passed away in a hospital in London, Ontario, on March 4.

A Good House (HarperFlamingo), which depicts 50 years in the postwar life of an Ontario family, won the Giller Prize in 1999. Her 1994 collection, Casino and Other Stories (HarperCollins), was also shortlisted for the prize and won a Saskatchewan Book Award; her first collection, Women of Influence (Coteau Books), won the Commonwealth Prize for best first book in 1989.

Longtime friend and editor Phyllis Bruce, who currently helms her own imprint at Simon & Schuster Canada, worked with Burnard on her Giller-winning title, along with another two of her three books. She remembers the writer as simply brilliant and revelatory, and says she was approached by a number of readers who said they were really able to see themselves in A Good House. “She had an astonishing way of penetrating ordinary family life. She [took] everyday experience and interpreted it in unexpected but illuminating and comforting ways,” Bruce says. “She has left a small but rich legacy. I felt privileged to be her editor.”

Burnard leaves behind three children and four grandchildren, who are planning a small tribute in London on March 10, to be followed by a private family service.