News Releases - 2009
Winners of 2009 Governor General’s Literary Awards announced by the Canada Council for the Arts
Montreal, November 17, 2009 – The names of winners of the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Awards were announced today by the Canada Council for the Arts. The seven English and seven French awards are given to authors, illustrators and translators and in the categories of fiction, poetry, drama, non‑fiction, children’s literature
(text and illustration) and translation.
For the first time in the history of the Awards one book wins in both categories of children’s literature (text and illustration): Harvey by author Hervé Bouchard and illustrator Janice Nadeau, a three-time
Award-winner. Children’s literature was also the focus in the
English-language translation category, with Susan Ouriou winning for her translation of a young adult novel, Pieces of Me, a translation of
La liberté? Connais pas… by Charlotte Gingras. Paule Noyart, winner in French-language translation, takes home her second Award this year for her translation of Camilla Gibb’s Sweetness in the Belly.
M.G. Vassanji, a past finalist in fiction, wins this year in the non-fiction category for his account of his travel in India. This year, 12 of the 14 winners receive this award for the very first time.
Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2009 Literary Awards on Thursday, November 26 at 6 p.m., at Rideau Hall. Media representatives wishing to cover the awards presentation should contact Julie Rocheleau at the Rideau Hall Press Office, 613-998-7280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Governor General and Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond are pleased to invite the public to an Art Matters forum, on the eve of this year’s award ceremony, on the following theme: How is your writing Canadian? “Inspired by tomorrow’s presentation of the Governor General’s Literary Awards honouring Canadian literature, and thanks to the many Canadian and international awards presented to our authors, we began thinking about just what it is that makes our literature ‘Canadian.’ How do authors, illustrators, their imaginations, the work of those who craft books, and the passion of readers express who we are and convey our identity?” asked Her Excellency.
This Art Matters forum will take place on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 7 p.m., at Rideau Hall. Two panellists will open the discussion: Serge Bouchard, anthropologist and author as well as Noah Richler, journalist and author. Seating is limited. To reserve their seat, members of the public must register via e-mail to email@example.com before Friday, November 20, 2009.
The Canada Council funds, administers and promotes the awards the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Canada’s oldest and most prestigious awards for English- and French-language Canadian literature. The value of each award is $25,000 and each winner will also receive a specially-bound copy of the winning book created by Montreal bookbinder Lise Dubois. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non‑winning finalists will each receive $1,000 in recognition of their selection as finalists, bringing the total value of the awards to approximately $450,000.
Download images of the winners and their book covers.
Find biographies and more information about the 2009 Awards.
Kate Pullinger, London (UK) [originally from Cranbrook,
British Columbia], The Mistress of Nothing.
(McArthur & Company; distributed by the publisher)
In The Mistress of Nothing, Kate Pullinger creates the fascinating character of Sally, maid to Lady Duff Gordon in Victorian times. Over the course of a memorable journey down the Nile with her Lady, Sally comes to realizations about the nature of power – its seductiveness, its elusiveness and its ability to alter the soul in manifold ways.
Julie Mazzieri, Velone-Orneto (France) [originally from
Saint-Paul-de-Chester, Quebec], Le discours sur la tombe de l’idiot.
(Éditions José Corti; distributed by Diffusion Dimédia)
An exceptionally polished novel, the result of an exemplary mastery of narrative. The text is deep, dark and implacable, and the tight, suspenseful writing stays with us long after the book is finished. The author sets herself the challenge of making the story believable, and she has succeeded brilliantly.
David Zieroth, North Vancouver, The Fly in Autumn.
(Harbour Publishing; distributed by the publisher)
In The Fly in Autumn, David Zieroth addresses our common and defining human fate – the loneliness that is a rehearsal for death – with a tenderness and buoyancy that shows the reader “how to walk in the dark with flowers.” The intricacy and exuberance of rhyme and the breadth of vision are stunning.
Hélène Monette, Montreal, Thérèse pour joie et orchestre.
(Les Éditions du Boréal; distributed by Diffusion Dimédia)
In Thérèse pour joie et orchestre, the poet transforms the sister she lost to illness into a happy spirit floating over people and places. This elegy orchestrated by Hélène Monette is astonishing in its ability to touch the reader. A magnificent ode in a voice that is generous and powerful.
Kevin Loring, Vancouver, Where the Blood Mixes.
(Talonbooks; distributed by Publishers Group Canada)
An abducted daughter returns to her wounded community after many years away. Kevin Loring illuminates the complex aftermath of the residential school system and the circumstances of contemporary Aboriginal history through compelling, sympathetic and humorous characters who live as best they can, with courage and strength.
Suzanne Lebeau, Montreal, Le bruit des os qui craquent.
(Leméac Éditeur; distributed by Socadis)
Le bruit des os qui craquent is a rare, courageous and beautiful work. Suzanne Lebeau conveys the devastating effects of war on children with sensitivity and uncompromising rigour. Directly and with heartbreaking lucidity, she broaches the question of individual and collective responsibility, and proposes empathy as the road toward hope and ultimately, redemption.
M.G. Vassanji, Toronto, A Place Within: Rediscovering India.
(Doubleday Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada)
An utterly brilliant, evocative memoir that ranges across the landscapes of culture, memory, identity and history. M.G. Vassanji’s style – diverse and playful – brings the reader along effortlessly, illuminating the ramshackle roots of self, family, and culture. An outstanding book of self-reflection and persistent insight, A Place Within is the resonant chronicle of a sage, a traveler, a pilgrim.
Nicole V. Champeau, Ottawa, Pointe Maligne : l’infiniment oubliée.
(Les Éditions du Vermillon; distributed by Prologue)
Like a requiem, this book sings of the destruction of the territories of the Upper Saint Lawrence, drowned by dams and depopulated by expropriation. These places have even disappeared from the memories of maps. Around Cornwall, originally called Pointe Maligne, the memory of the founding peoples, Amerindian and French, has been obliterated.
Children’s Literature - Text
Caroline Pignat, Ottawa, Greener Grass: The Famine Years.
(Red Deer Press, a division of Fitzhenry & Whiteside; distributed by the publisher)
Caroline Pignat’s Greener Grass: The Famine Years follows the disintegration of the Byrne family during Ireland’s Great Famine of 1847, when landlords ruled without mercy, children could be taken away to prison, and thousands were left to starve. A timeless story of courage, family loyalty and the resilience of the human spirit.
Hervé Bouchard, Saguenay (Quebec), Harvey.
(Les Éditions de la Pastèque; distributed by Socadis)
Hervé Bouchard makes us feel the confusion and helplessness of a little boy faced with the death of his father. His surprising and extremely sensitive writing is deeply moving. Through a series of poetically powerful metaphors, he allows us the freedom to explore the multiple layers of his story.
Children’s Literature – Illustration
Jirina Marton, Colborne (Ontario), Bella’s Tree, text by Janet Russell.
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
Jirina Marton’s illustrations invite the reader to a winter landscape full of textures and subtle, earthy colour palettes. The Van Gogh-like interior and its warm tones create a holiday season mood that evokes an emotional response. The illustrations are well crafted and capture the imagination and humanity of the everyday lives they portray.
Janice Nadeau, Montreal, Harvey, text by Hervé Bouchard.
(Les Éditions de la Pastèque; distributed by Socadis)
In illustrating a book that stands out for the originality of its language, Janice Nadeau has come up with wonderful ways of depicting the sadness of spring and the melancholy of loss. The subtle drawings dance with the text and give rhythm to the reading. Hervé Bouchard’s Quebec comes alive under the brush strokes of the illustrator.
Susan Ouriou, Calgary, Pieces of Me.
(Kids Can Press; distributed by University of Toronto Press)
English translation of La liberté? Connais pas… by Charlotte Gingras (Les éditions de la courte échelle)
With Pieces of Me, Susan Ouriou has created a magical rendering of the exquisite original. Tenderly redrawing the portrait of a troubled teenage girl struggling to come into her own, Ouriou has sensitively captured all that is moving, poetic and funny about the novel’s main character in a truly accomplished translation.
Paule Noyart, Bromont (Quebec), Le miel d’Harar.
(Leméac Éditeur / Actes Sud; distributed by Socadis)
French translation of Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
Paule Noyart shows a keen sensitivity to the poetry of the original. In a true act of literary creation, the expressive liberties the translator has taken serve this culturally-rich novel well. The remarkable quality of her work manages to transcend the limits of the translator’s art – a rare accomplishment indeed.
The peer assessment committees
The finalists and winners for the Governor General’s Literary Awards are chosen by peer assessment committees (seven English and seven French) appointed by the Canada Council. The committees, which met separately, considered all eligible books published between September 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009 for English-language books and between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009 for French-language books. This year 884 titles in the English-language categories and 657 titles in the French-language categories were submitted.
Fiction: Judy Fong Bates (Campbellford, ON), Wayne Johnston (Toronto), Shaena Lambert (Vancouver)
Poetry: Janice Kulyk Keefer (Toronto), George Murray (St. John’s, NL), John Pass (Madeira Park, BC)
Drama: Sally Clark (Vancouver), Bruce McManus (Winnipeg), Drew Hayden Taylor (Curve Lake, ON)
Non-fiction: Stephen Kimber (Halifax), Ross A. Laird (Delta, BC), Nelofer Pazira (Toronto)
Children’s literature – text: Tomson Highway (Noëlville, ON), Pamela Porter (North Saanich, BC), Alice Walsh (Lower Sackville, NS)
Children’s literature – illustration: Kyrsten Brooker (Edmonton), Laura Jolicoeur-Simon (Dartmouth, NS), Leo Yerxa (Ottawa)
Translation: Betty Bednarski (Halifax), Rhonda Mullins (Montreal), John Murrell (Calgary)
Fiction: Marie-Célie Agnant (Montreal), Daniel Poliquin (Parrsboro, NS), Pierre Samson (Montreal)
Poetry: Carole David (Montreal), Paul Chanel Malenfant (Rimouski, QC), Benoît Doyon-Gosselin (Quebec City)
Drama: Marie-Christine Lê Huu (Montreal), Pierre-Yves Lemieux (Montreal), Robert Marinier (Ottawa)
Non-fiction: François Bugingo (Montreal), Madeleine Gagnon (Montreal), Roland Le Huenen (Toronto)
Children’s literature – text: Charlotte Gingras (Morin-Heights, QC), Daniel Marchildon (Penetanguishene, ON), Jean-Michel Schembré (Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, QC)
Children’s literature – illustration: Sylvie Daigneault (Toronto), Virginie Egger (Montreal), Rafael Sottolichio (Montreal)
Translation: Jean Antonin Billard (Roxton Falls, QC), Anne Malena (Edmonton), Sophie Voillot (Montreal)
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