Scoping out this yearís fiction finalists
It’s the 75th anniversary of the Governor General’s Literary Awards this year. The GG’s, as they are affectionately known, are Canada’s chief literary awards, featuring works in both French and English in seven different categories.
The winner receives a $25,000 prize, but all finalists reap the benefits that a GG finalist sticker brings: national acclaim and a mark in Canada’s literary history book.
Run by the Canada Council for the Arts in association with Indigo Books and CBC Radio, this year’s English fiction finalists have been turning heads with some distinctly local authors throwing their hats in the ring.
Interestingly enough, this year features all new contenders. With previous nominations and awards from other prizes, these authors all appear to have equal footing and experience, making the 75th GG’s a must-watch. The winner will be announced Nov. 28 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Three judges representing different voices and genres have been selected to decide the victor given their knowledge and experience with Canadian fiction. This year’s fiction judges are definitely well-rounded if not exactly iconic: Randy Boyagoda, C.P. Boyko, and Susan C. Haley.
Notable novelist and literary critic, Boyagoda, is an associate professor and the English chair at Ryerson University providing a scholar’s perspective to this year’s judging. Representing short fiction and the West coast is C.P. Boyko. A four-time finalist for the Journey Prize, after years of journal publications Boyko has recently debuted his first collection of shorts Psychology and Other Stories. From Nova Scotia is writer Susan C. Haley. The author of six novels and an instructor on fiction writing at the Arcadia University, Haley rounds out the variety. A literati, a shorts writer, and a novelist; this year’s judges are a promisingly diverse bunch.
The GG’s have been nominating, awarding, and elevating Canadian literature for 75 years now, and this year is no different. Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir, the aforementioned GG himself, could not have been more proud.
By Linda Spalding
Canadian fiction writer Linda Spalding lives in Toronto and has taught at several Canadian colleges and universities. Her newest work, The Purchase takes place in 1798 Pennsylvania where Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker man, moves his family with a wagonful of belongings to a new homestead. Daniel goes through a moral crisis after he acquires a young slave named Onesimus, leading him to question his own conscience and sets off a chain of events culminating in murder.
Dr. Brinkley’s Tower
By Robert Hough
Mississauga-born Robert Hough’s novel tells the tale of Dr. Romulus Brinkley. After the construction of a radio tower in a small Mexico bordertown, the doctor broadcasts his revolutionary new goat-gland fertility treatment, giving the dusty town a well needed economic boom. This attracts a wide cast of characters, from the destitute to the downright despicable, while the town beauty, Victoria Cruz, shows interest in the doctor and his newfound success. The novel has also been long-listed for the 2012 Giller Prize.
By Tamas Dobozy
Siege 13 is a collection of short stories written by Prof. Dobozy of Wilfrid Laurier University. This collection of historical fiction features 13 shorts surrounding the World War II siege of Budapest in 1944, often referred to as the bloodiest siege of the war. Following characters who were affected directly or indirectly, and across time, these connected works travel between Canada, the US, and Europe to give an accurate recount of the tragedies of war that bind us all.
The Juliet Stories
By Carrie Snyder
Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Carrie Snyder grew up in Nicaragua and Canada, serving as the basis for her newest work. The Juliet Stories is the tale of Juliet Friesen and her peace-activist family living in Nicaragua during the post-revolutionary war. There, Juliet lives in a sort of protective bubble, outside of the conflict but with danger pressing on all sides. When her brother is diagnosed with cancer, her family returns to Canada, but it is life there that threatens to tear Juliet’s family apart.
The Headmaster’s Wager
By Vincent Lam
An emergency physician from Toronto turned international bestselling author, Vincent Lam’s story of a Chinese expatriate in Vietnam has been making waves since its release in April. Percival Chen, the protagonist, is a gambler and womanizer who stubbornly ignores the political storm building around him as the Vietnam War looms. His tumultuous relationship with French-Vietnamese Jacqueline is tested as the war leeches into Chen’s bon vivant lifestyle more and more.