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Joshua Whitehead, Paige Cooper among fresh crop of finalists for Governor General’s Literary Awards

Terese Marie Mailhot is one of six finalists in the non-fiction category recognized for a debut memoir (Isaiah Mailhot)

The juries for the Governor General’s Literary Awards clearly haven’t been reading over the shoulders of the season’s other literary prizes. A fresh group of finalists dominate this year’s lists, announced Oct. 3.

The exclusion of Esi Edugyan – whose novel Washington Black has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize – from the fiction category is one indication that the GG juries were looking for emerging talent to celebrate. Former GG winner Miriam Toews and nominee Rawi Hage are nominated alongside first-timers Sarah Henstra, Paige Cooper, and Joshua Whitehead. In the non-fiction category, all six finalists are recognized for their debut memoirs.

Winners in all 14 categories will be announced on Oct. 30, with the awards presented by Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Nov. 28. Each winner receives $25,000 and each winning publisher receives $3,000. The remaining finalists each receive $1,000.

The full list of winners can be found at the Governor General Literary Awards website. English-language finalists are listed below.

Fiction
Beirut Hellfire Society, Rawi Hage (Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada)
Jonny Appleseed, Joshua Whitehead (Arsenal Pulp Press)
The Red Word, Sarah Henstra (ECW Press)
Women Talking, Miriam Toews (Knopf/PRHC)
Zolitude, Paige Cooper (Biblioasis)

Poetry
Because: A Lyric Memoir, Joshua Mensch (W.W. Norton & Company)
Night Became Years, Jason Stefanik (Coach House Books)
The Blue Clerk, Dionne Brand (McClelland & Stewart/PRHC)
This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt (Frontenac House)
Wayside Sang, Cecily Nicholson (Talonbooks)

Drama
Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom, Jordan Tannahill (Playwrights Canada Press)
Gertrude and Alice, Anna Chatterton and Evalyn Parry with Karin Randoja (PCP)
Paradise Lost, Erin Shields (PCP)
The Men in White, Anosh Irani (House of Anansi Press)
This Is How We Got Here, Keith Barker (PCP)

Non-fiction
Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father, Carys Cragg (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot (Doubleday Canada/PRHC)
Homes: A Refugee Story, Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung (Freehand Books)
Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, Darrel J. McLeod (Douglas & McIntyre)
The Wife’s Tale: A Personal History, Aida Edemariam (Knopf)

Young People’s Literature – Text
Ebb & Flow, Heather Smith (Kids Can Press)
Learning to Breathe, Janice Lynn Mather (Simon & Schuster)
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster, Jonathan Auxier (Puffin Canada/PRHC Young Readers)
The Journey of Little Charlie, Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic Canada)
Winnie’s Great War, Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut (HarperCollins Publishers)

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books
Africville, Shauntay Grant and Eva Campbell (Groundwood Books)
At the Pond, Werner Zimmermann (North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada)
Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes, Wab Kinew and Joe Morse (Tundra Books/PRHC)
Ocean Meets Sky, The Fan Brothers (S&S Books for Young Readers)
They Say Blue, Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood)

Translation (from French to English)
Descent into Night, Edem Awumey, trans.Howard Scott and Phyllis Aronoff (Mawenzi House Publishers)
Explosions: Michael Bay and the Pyrotechnics of the Imagination, Mathieu Poulin, trans. Aleshia Jensen (QC Fiction/Baraka Books)
Jacob Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu, Jacob-Isaac Segal, trans. Vivian Felsen
(University of Ottawa Press)
Little Beast, Julie Demers, trans. Rhonda Mullins (CH Books)
Songs for the Cold of Heart, Peter McCambridge, trans. Eric Dupont (QC/Baraka)