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Amanda Parris, Gwen Benaway, and Erin Bow among crop of first-time Governor General’s Literary Award winners

Joan Thomas (Bruce Thomas Barr), Gwen Benaway (Jon Elliott), Amanda Parris (CBC Media Centre), Erin Bow (Studio J)

Five first-time winners – Joan Thomas (fiction), Gwen Benaway (poetry), Amanda Parris (drama), Don Gillmor, and Erin Bow (young people’s literature – text) – were among the seven English-language literary talents to receive a Governor General’s Literary Award on Oct. 29. Previous winners Sydney Smith and Linda Gaboriau were also recognized.

Each winner receives $25,000, plus an additional $3,000 for their publishers to use for marketing and promotion. The winners will be celebrated at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Dec. 12 to be hosted by Governor General Julie Payette.

Thomas’s winning novel, Five Wives, is the fourth to be written by the Winnipeg author. Inspired by a true story, the novel is about a group pf women who become stranded in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Her second novel, Curiosity, was shortlisted for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.

Doug Gillmor (Ryan Szulc)

Gillmor won the non-fiction category for his book To the River: Losing My Brother. The book follows Gillmor as he retraces his brother’s suicide in Whitehorse.

The full list of winners and shortlisted work in the 14 English and French categories follows.

2019 English-language finalists 

Aislinn Hunter, Wayne Johnston, and Saleema Nawaz
Winner: Five Wives, Joan Thomas (Harper Avenue/HarperCollins)

  • Eye, Marianne Micros (Guernica Editions)
  • Late Breaking, K.D. Miller (Biblioasis)
  • The Innocents, Michael Crummey (Doubleday Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)
  • The Student, Cary Fagan (Freehand Books)

Lesley Belleau, Méira Cook, and Allan Cooper
Winner: Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway (Book*hug)

  • How to Avoid Huge Ships, Julie Bruck (Brick Books)
  • St. Boniface Elegies, Catherine Hunter (Signature Editions)
  • The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Ecology, Karen Houle (Gaspereau Press)
  • Treaty #, Armand Garnet Ruffo (Buckrider Books/Wolsak and Wynn Publishers)

Maja Ardal, Megan Gail Coles, and Curtis Peeteetuce
Winner: Other Side of the Game, Amanda Parris (Playwrights Canada Press)

  • 1 Hour Photo, Tetsuro Shigematsu (Talonbooks)
  • Thanks for Giving, Kevin Loring (Talonbooks)
  • The Fighting Season, Sean Harris Oliver (Scirocco Drama/J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing)
  • What a Young Wife Ought to Know, Hannah Moscovitch (Playwrights Canada)

Ross King, Rachel Lebowitz, and Marina Nemat
Winner: To the River: Losing My Brother, Don Gillmor (Random House Canada/PRHC)

  • City of Omens: A Search for the Missing Women of the Borderlands, Dan Werb (Bloomsbury)
  • Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times, Alan Walker (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father, Brian Harvey (ECW Press)
  • Tiny Lights for Travellers, Naomi K. Lewis (University of Alberta Press)

Young People’s Literature – Text
Kagiso Lesego Molope, Kenneth Oppel, and Ellen Schwartz
Winner: Stand on the Sky, Erin Bow (Scholastic Canada)

  • Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis (HarperCollins)
  • Cold White Sun, Sue Farrell Holler (Groundwood Books)
  • Girl of the Southern Sea, Michelle Kadarusman (Pajama Press)
  • The Grey Sisters, Jo Treggiari (Penguin Teen/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
Shauntay Grant, Jon Klassen, and Kathryn Shoemaker
Winner: Small in the City, Sydney Smith (Groundwood Books)

  • Albert’s Quiet Quest, Isabelle Arsenault (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
  • Birdsong, Julie Flett (Greystone Books)
  • How to Give Your Cat a Bath, Nicola Winstanley and John Martz (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
  • King Mouse, Cary Fagan and Dena Seiferling (Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)

Translation (from French to English)
Nicola Danby, Wayne Grady, and Maureen Labonté
Winner: Birds of a Kind, Wajdi Mouawad and Linda Gaboriau, trans. (Playwrights Canada Press)

  • 887, Robert Lepage and Louisa Blair, trans. (House of Anansi Press)
  • Synapses, Simon Brousseau and Pablo Strauss (trans.) (Talonbooks)
  • The Embalmer, Anne-Renée Caillé and Rhonda Mullins (trans.) (Coach House Books)
  • Vi, Kim Thúy and Sheila Fischman (Random House Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)

2019 French-language finalists (seven categories)

Hervé Bouchard, Blaise Ndala, and Élise Turcotte
Winner: Le drap blanc, Céline Huyghebaert (Le Quartanier)

  • La Minotaure, Mariève Maréchale (Triptyque/Groupe Nota bene)
  • La terre, Sylvie Drapeau (Leméac Éditeur)
  • Maisons fauves, Éléonore Goldberg (Triptyque/Groupe Nota bene)
  • Mina parmi les ombres, Edem Awumey (Les Éditions du Boréal)

Nora Atalla, Maggie Roussel, and Christian Roy
Winner: Le tendon et l’os, Anne-Marie Desmeules (L’Hexagone, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature)

  • Fastes, Chloé Savoie-Bernard (L’Hexagone/Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature)
  • La cuisine mortuaire, Louise Marois (Triptyque, Groupe Nota bene)
  • La part habitée du ciel, Michel Létourneau (Écrits des Forges)
  • Portages, Louis-Thomas Plamondon (La Peuplade)

Normand Canac-Marquis, Miriam Cusson, and Talia Hallmona
Winner: Havre, Mishka Lavigne (Les Éditions L’Interligne)

  • ColoniséEs, Annick Lefebvre (Dramaturges Éditeurs)
  • Et si un soir, Lisa L’Heureux (Éditions Prise de parole)
  • La nuit du 4 au 5, Rachel Graton (Dramaturges Éditeurs)
  • La vie utile recede de Errance et tremblements, Evelyne de la Chenelière (Les Herbes rouges)

Louis Hamelin, Rachida M’Faddel, and Paul Savoie
Winner: Le droit du plus fort : nos dommages, leurs interest, Anne-Marie Voisard (Les Éditions Écosociété)

  • Cartographie des vivants, Sarah Brunet Dragon (Les Éditions du Noroît)
  • Clin d’oeil au Temps qui passe, Antonine Maillet (Leméac Éditeur)
  • La prose d’Alain Grandbois. Ou lire et relire Les voyages de Marco Polo, Patrick Moreau (Nota bene)
  • La Société des grands fonds, Daniel Canty (La Peuplade)

Young People’s Literature – Text
Marie-Célie Agnant, Jocelyn Boisvert, and Karen Olsen
Winner: L’albatros et la mésange, Dominique Demers (Éditions Québec Amérique)

  • Au Carrefour, Jean-François Sénéchal (Leméac Éditeur)
  • Dans le coeur de Florence, Lucie Bergeron (Soulières éditeur)
  • Mon coeur après la pluie, Pierre Labrie (Soulières éditeur)
  • Où est ma maison?, Édith Bourget (Les éditions du soleil de minuit)

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
Nahid Kazemi, Diane Carmel Léger, and François Thisdale
Winner: Jack et le temps perdu, Stéphanie Lapointe and Delphie Côté-Lacroix (Quai no 5, Les Éditions XYZ)

  • Contacts, Mélanie Leclerc (Mécanique générale)
  • L’escapade de Paolo, Lucie Papineau and Lucie Crovatto (Les Éditions de la Bagnole)
  • Laurent, c’est moi!, Stéphanie Deslauriers and Geneviève Desprès (Fonfon)
  • Le pelleteur de nuages, Simon Boulerice and Josée Bisaillon (La courte échelle)

Translation (from English to French)
Myriam Legault, Hélène Rioux, and Michel Saint-Germain
Winner: Nous qui n’étions rien, Madeleine Thien and Catherine Leroux, trans. (Knopf Canada)

  • L’animal langage : la compétence linguistique humaine, Charles Taylor and Nicolas Calvé, trans. (Les Éditions du Boréal)
  • Le Yiddish à l’usage des pirates, Gary Barwin; Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné, trans.
  • Onze jours en septembre , Kathleen Winter and Sophie Voillot, trans. (Les Éditions du Boréal)
  • Pilleurs de rêves, Cherie Dimaline and Madeleine Stratford, trans. (Les Éditions du Boréal)