Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards at 80

In News by Dennis Abrams

Opening a ninth decade, the high-visibility Canadian Governor General’s award series in literature has seven categories, each in both French and English.

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘Who We Might Become Tomorrow’

gg80-governor-generals-literary-award-at-80The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the 2016 shortlists for the Governor General’s Literary Awards.

This year, more than 1,450 titles in English and French were submitted for consideration. One of Canada’s longest-standing literary awards,
“GGBooks,” as it’s called, is one of the country’s most varied awards program. It honors works in seven categories and in the country’s two official languages for a total of 14 shortlists.

Winners each receive $25,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000.

“Each year, for 80 years, the GGBooks shortlist announcement has invited us to explore who we are today, and to dream of who we might become tomorrow,” says Canada Council Director and CEO Simon Brault in a prepared statement with the release of the shortlists. “Canadian literature has a long history of excellence, and it continues to captivate us.”

The winners are to be announced on Tuesday, October 25th. Awards are scheduled to be presented on November 30th.

English Language Finalists


  • Gary Barwin, Yiddish for Pirates, Random House Canada/Penguin Random House Canada
  • Anosh Irani, The Parcel, Alfred A. Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada
  • Kerry Lee Powell, Willam de Koonings Paintbrush, HarperCollins
  • Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Alfred A. Knopf Canada/Penguin Random House Canada
  • Katharena Vermette, The Break, House of Anansi Press




  • Kamal Al-Solaylee, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone), HarperCollins Publishers
  • Teva Harrison, In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer, House of Anansi Press
  • Harold R. Johnson, Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours), University of Regina Press
  • Marc Raboy, Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World, Oxford University Press
  • Bill Waiser, A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, Fifth House Publishers

Young People’s Literature (Text)

Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books)

  • Jo Ellen Bogart and Sydney Smith, The White Cat and the Monk, Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press
  • Lucy Ruth Cummings, A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals, Atheneum Books for Young Readers / Simon & Schuster
  • Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka, Tokyo Digs a Garden, Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press
  • Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt, The Branch, Kids Can Press
  • Esmé Shapiro, Ooko, Tundra Books / Penguin Random House Canada

ggla-2016-1Translation (French to English)

French Language Finalists


  • Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, La femme qui fuit, Marchand de feuilles
  • Hugues Corriveau, Les enfants de Liverpool, Éditions Druide
  • Martine Delvaux, Blanc dehors, Héliotrope
  • Dominique Fortier, Au péril de la mer , Éditions Alto
  • Daniel Grenier, L’année la plus longue, Le Quartanier



  • Hervé Bouchard, Le faux pas de l’actrice dans sa traîne, Le Quartanier
  • Michel Marc Bouchard, La divine illusion, Leméac Éditeur
  • Sébastien David, Les haut-parleurs, Leméac Éditeur
  • Olivier Kemeid, Five kings : l’histoire de notre chute, Leméac Éditeur
  • Wajdi Mouawad, Inflammation du verbe vivre, Leméac Éditeur / Actes Sud


  • André Habib, La main gauche de Jean-Pierre Léaud, Les Éditions du Boréal
  • Michel Morin, Être et ne pas être, Éditions Les Herbes rouges
  • Yvon Rivard, Exercices d’amitié, Leméac Éditeur
  • Roland Viau, Amerindia : essais d’ethnohistoire autochtone, Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal
  • Louise Warren, La vie flottante, Les Éditions du Noroît

Young People’s Literature (Text)

  • Camille Bouchard, Nouvelle-Orléans, Éditions Québec Amérique
  • Mario Brassard, Quand hurle la nuit, Soulières Éditeur
  • Amélie Dumoulin, Fé M Fé, Éditions Québec Amérique
  • François Gilbert, Hare Krishna, Leméac Éditeur
  • Patrick Isabelle, Camille, Leméac Éditeur

ggla-2016-3Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books)

  • Jules Asselin and Ninon Pelletier, Le mystère des billes d’or, Les Éditions L’Interlinge
  • Simon Boulerice and Delphie Côté-Lacroix , Florence et Léon, Éditions Québec Amérique
  • Stéphanie Lapointe and Rogé, Grand-père et la Lune, Les Éditions XYZ
  • Andrée Poulin and Marie Lafrance, Deux garçons et un secret, Les Éditions de la Bagnole
  • Yayo, Pikiq, Les Éditions de la Bagnole

ggla-2016-2Translation (English to French)

  • Christophe Bernard, Les hautes montagnes du Portugual, Les Éditions XYZ; translation of The High Mountains of Portugal by Vann Martel, Alfred A. Knopf Canada
  • Catherine Ego, La destruction de Indiens de Plaines: maladies, famines, organisées, dispaition du mode de vie autochtone, Presses de l’Universite Laval; translation of Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk, University of Regina Press
  • Daniel Poliquin, Le grand retour: le réveil autochtone, Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of The Comeback by John Ralston Saul, Viking
  • Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné, Joshua, Les Éditions du Boréal; translation of Joshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler, McClelland and Stewart
  • Madeleine Stratford, Elle nage, Éditions La Peuplade; translation of Swim by Marianne Apostolides, Book Thug

More from Publishing Perspectives on Canada: Canada To Be Guest of Honor at Frankfurt Book Fair 2020

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.