Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards: 70 Finalists

In News by Porter Anderson

Finalists across 14 categories of Governor General’s Literary Awards winners are announced, with winners announced on November 8.

Image: Governor General’s Literary Awards

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Seven Categories in French, Seven in English
With November 8 the date on which 14 winners are to be announced, Canada’s most prominent book award series, the Governor General’s Literary Awards, carry a total prize value of CA$450,000 (US$325,074).

Founded in 1936, the awards provide each  winning writer, translator or illustrator a CA$25,000 prize. Publishers receive CA$3,000 to promote the winning book. Finalists receive CA$1,000 each.

The following finalists have been selected by category-specific, language-based peer assessment committees (seven in English and seven in French).

Members of those committees consider eligible books published between August 1 and July 31.

2023 English-Language Finalists: Seven Categories


  • A History of Burning – Janika Oza (Toronto, Ontario) McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Chrysalis – Anuja Varghese (Hamilton, Ontario) House of Anansi Press
  • In the Upper Country – Kai Thomas (Petersburgh, USA) Viking, Penguin Random House Canada
  • The Sleeping Car Porter – Suzette Mayr (Calgary, Alberta) Coach House Books
  • We Spread – Iain Reid (Kingston, Ontario) Scribner, Simon & Schuster Canada


  • Baby Book – Amy Ching-Yan Lam (Toronto, Ontario) Brick Books
  • Exculpatory Lilies – Susan Musgrave (Masset, British Columbia) McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Old Gods – Conor Kerr (Edmonton, Alberta) Nightwood Editions
  • The Ridge – Robert Bringhurst (Heriot Bay, British Columbia) Harbour Publishing
  • Xanax Cowboy – Hannah Green (Winnipeg, Manitoba) House of Anansi Press


  • Forgiveness – Hiro Kanagawa (Port Moody, British Columbia) Playwrights Canada Press
  • Is My Microphone On? – Jordan Tannahill (London, United Kingdom) Playwrights Canada Press
  • The Enchanted Loom – Suvendrini Lena (Toronto, Ontario) Playwrights Canada Press
  • The War Being Waged – Darla Contois (Winnipeg, Manitoba) Scirocco Drama, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
  • William Shakespeareʼs As You Like It: A Radical Retelling – Cliff Cardinal (Toronto, Ontario) Playwrights Canada Press


  • Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey With a Scar(f) – Monia Mazigh (Ottawa, Ontario) Mawenzi House Publishers
  • Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery – Harrison Mooney (Vancouver, British Columbia) HarperCollins Canada
  • Message in a Bottle: Ocean Dispatches from a Seabird Biologist – Holly Hogan (St. Johnʼs, Newfoundland and Labrador) Knopf, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Unbroken – Angela Sterritt (British Columbia) Greystone Books
  • Unearthing – Kyo Maclear (Toronto, Ontario) Knopf, Penguin Random House Canada

Young People’s Literature: Text

  • As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow – Zoulfa Katouh (Zurich, Switzerland) Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group
  • Berani – Michelle Kadarusman (Toronto, Ontario) Pajama Press
  • Fire on Headless Mountain – Iain Lawrence (Gabriola Island, British Columbia) Margaret Ferguson Books, Penguin Random House Canada
  • The Probability of Everything – Sarah Everett (Edmonton, Alberta) Clarion Books, HarperCollins
  • Weird Rules to Follow – Kim Spencer (British Columbia) Orca Book Publishers

Young People’s Literature: Illustrated

  • Boobies – Nancy Vo (British Columbia) Groundwood Books
  • Mr. S – Monica Arnaldo (Sainte-Julie, Quebec) Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins
  • Still This Love Goes On – Buffy Sainte-Marie (Kapaa, United States) and Julie Flett (Victoria, British Columbia) Greystone Kids, Greystone Books
  • The Skull – Jon Klassen (Los Angeles, United States) Candlewick Press
  • When You Can Swim – Jack Wong (Halifax, Nova Scotia) Scholastic Canada

Translation from French to English

  • Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees – Arielle Aaronson (Montréal, Quebec) Groundwood Books Ltd. A translation of Seuls, by Paul Tom.
  • House Within a House – D.M. Bradford (Montréal, Quebec) Brick Books. A translation of Désormais, ma demeure, by Nicholas Dawson.
  • Kukum – Susan Ouriou (Calgary, Alberta) Arachnide, House of Anansi Press Inc. A translation of Kukum, by Michel Jean.
  • Okinum – Émilie Monnet (Chelsea, Quebec) Scirocco Drama, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing. A translation of Okinum, by Émilie Monnet.
  • Rosaʼs Very Own Personal Revolution – Peter McCambridge (Québec City, Quebec) QC Fiction, Baraka Books. A translation of La logeuse, by Éric Dupont.
2023 French-Language Finalists: Seven Categories


  • Galumpf – Marie Hélène Poitras (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions Alto
  • Lʼor des mélèzes – Carole Labarre (Sept-Îles, Quebec) Mémoire dʼencrier
  • Mon fils ne revint que sept jours – David Clerson (Montréal, Quebec) Héliotrope
  • Sombre est la nuit – Brigitte Haentjens (Montréal, Quebec) Les Éditions du Boréal
  • Une carte postale de lʼocéan – Stéfani Meunier (Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard, Quebec) Leméac Éditeur


  • À terre ouverte – Sebastián Ibarra Gutiérrez (Québec City, Quebec) Éditions Hamac
  • Atikᵁ utei. Le cœur du caribou – Rita Mestokosho (Ekuanitshit, Quebec) Mémoire dʼencrier
  • Exercices de joie – Louise Dupré (Montréal, Quebec) Le Noroît
  • La fabrique du noir – Virginie Chaloux-Gendron (Québec City, Quebec) Le Noroît
  • Les deuils transparents – Virginie Savard (Montréal, Quebec) Triptyque


  • Akuteu – Soleil Launière (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions du remue-ménage
  • Charlie, du vent derrière le nombril – Martin Bellemare (Montréal, Quebec) Dramaturges Éditeurs
  • Gros gars – Mathieu Gosselin (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions Somme toute
  • Les glaces – Rébecca Déraspe (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions de Ta Mère
  • Mama – Nathalie Doummar (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions du remue-ménage


  • Faux rebelles : Les dérives du politiquement incorrect – Philippe Bernier Arcand (Ottawa, Ontario) Éditions Poètes de brousse
  • Jʼaccuse les tortionnaires dʼOmar Khadr – Frédéric Bérard (Montréal, Quebec) Saint-Jean Éditeur
  • La société de provocation – Dahlia Namian (Montréal, Quebec) Lux Éditeur
  • Mégaptère – Martine Béland (Pointe-de-l’Église, Nova Scotia) Leméac Éditeur
  • Panique à lʼUniversité – Francis Dupuis-Déri (Montréal, Quebec) Lux Éditeur

Young People’s Literature: Text

  • Escarpolette – Sylvie Drapeau (Montréal, Quebec) Dominique et compagnie / Les éditions Héritage
  • Le plancher de la lune – Jean-Christophe Réhel (Repentigny, Quebec) la courte échelle
  • Linoubliable – Lou Beauchesne (Montréal, Quebec) la courte échelle
  • Mélie quelque part au milieu – Mylène Goupil (Blainville, Quebec) Éditions Québec Amérique
  • Zipolaris Tome 3 : La malédiction de Zangra – J.L. Blanchard (Laval, Quebec) Éditions Fides

Young People’s Literature: Illustrated

  • Gervais et Conrad – Iris Boudreau (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions Les 400 coups
  • Je t’écris de mon lit – Maude Nepveu-Villeneuve and Agathe Bray-Bourret (Montréal, Quebec – les deux) Éditions Les 400 coups
  • Le Bourlingueur de Matungoua – Boucar Diouf (Longueuil, Quebec) and François Thisdale (Carignan, Quebec) Éditions La Presse
  • Le plus petit sauveur du monde – Samuel Larochelle and Eve Patenaude (Montréal, Quebec – les deux) Éditions XYZ
  • Parfois les lacs brûlent – Geneviève Bigué (Montréal, Quebec) Front Froid

Translation From English to French

  • Dans lʼombre du soleil : Réflexions sur la race et les récits – Catherine Ego (Montréal, Quebec) Les Éditions du Boréal. A translation of Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling, by Esi Edugyan.
  • Nʼayons pas peur du ciel – Dominique Fortier (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions Alto. A translation of We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky, by Emma Hooper.
  • Père fictif – Luba Markovskaia (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions de la Pastèque. A translation of Fictional Father, by Joe Ollmann.
  • soufrelangue – Madeleine Stratford (Ottawa, Ontario) Éditions Prise de parole. A translation of sulphurtongue, by Rebecca Salazar.
  • Tout est bien – Marie Frankland (Montréal, Quebec) Éditions Québec Amérique. A translation of Allʼs Well, by Mona Award.

The Canada Council for the Arts has funded, administered and promoted these awards since 1959.

More from Publishing Perspectives on international book and publishing awards is here, more on the Governor General’s awards program is here, and more on the Canadian market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.