2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards Winners Announced
Photos courtesy the Canada Council for the Arts
The Canada Council for the Arts announced the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards winners this morning, with The Red Word, by Toronto writer and academic Sarah Henstra, emerging as the top fiction winner.
The novel, described as a “take-no-prisoners look at rape culture” on college campuses, wowed the award judges, which called it “an astonishing evisceration of the clichés of sexual politics as they exist not only on our college campuses, but also within broader present-day society” and, quite frankly, “an utterly effing good read.” The Red Word is Henstra’s first adult novel.
Established in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards stands as one of Canada’s oldest literary honours as well as one of its most coveted, bringing with it a total of $450,000 in prize money to the authors of the winning books, their publishers and fellow finalists. The Canada Council for the Arts notes that seven English and seven French winners in each category receive $25,000 and “are chosen by category-specific, language-based peer assessment committees.” The winners receive their awards from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada in a ceremony at Rideau Hall on November 28.
Read on for the complete list of winners:
English Language Winners
FICTION: The Red Word, by Sarah Henstra
GG Peer Assessment: “Ground-breaking and provocative, this is an astonishing evisceration of the clichés of sexual politics as they exist not only on our college campuses, but also within broader present-day society. Alternately heartbreaking, funny, and critical, no one gets off easily. The Red Word plumbs the depths of literature, mythology, history, philosophy, and a host of contemporary issues—an utterly effing good read.”
GG Peer Assessment: “In this hypnotic suite of long poems, Cecily Nicholson makes room, offering glimpses and echoes of the Canadian landscape as she explores ideas of borders, identity, industry and travel. She offers a catalogue of impressions, a collage of the ephemeral, held together by image and the pulsing phrase that stays with you long after the journey is over.”
GG Peer Assessment: “Jordan Tannahill’s two-play volume explores the fragility of social consensus in a world made uneasy by the forces of social division. Both plays are poetic, irreverent and funny, offering the pleasure of entertainment while displaying masterful literary ability. Tannahill possesses a powerful artistic voice that reflects where we come from, who we are and who we may become.”
GG Peer Assessment: “Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age dares to immerse readers in provocative contemporary issues including gender fluidity, familial violence, and transcultural hybridity. A fast-moving, intimate memoir of dreams and nightmares—lyrical and gritty, raw and vulnerable, told without pity, but with phoenix-like strength.”
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE – TEXT: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, By Jonathan Auxier
GG Peer Assessment: “A tender story of what makes us human, Sweep doesn’t shy away from the risks of love and monstrousness of indifference. With an impeccable narrative, Sweep shows how love can breathe life into darkness and how hope can spark change. Auxier weaves a multi-layered masterpiece with endearing characters and gut-wrenching twists that are certain to instil readers with a sense of wonder and discovery for the miracle of storytelling”
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE – ILLUSTRATED BOOKS: They Say Blue, by Jillian Tamaki
GG Peer Assessment: “They Say Blue is a wonderful blend of words and art, a sweeping, joyous book from cover to cover. Its lively and dynamic compositions are sure to captivate both children and those who love to read to children. Wonderfully uplifting and imaginative, it spans an entire range of emotions and colours and makes one’s heart sing.”