Sheila Heti and Anne Carson among finalists for Governor General’s Literary Awards

Sheila Heti and Anne Carson are among well-known Canadian writers on the Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlist.

On Wednesday, the Canada Council for the Arts named the 70 finalists in seven categories in English and French. The 14 winners, each receiving $25,000, will be announced on November 16.

Toronto-based Heti is nominated in the English-language fiction category for “Pure Colour,” her new novel about “art, love, death and time.” The book, published by Knopf Canada, was shortlisted for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize.

She will face four promising authors, including the first septuagenarian novelist Brian Thomas Isaac.

Isaac, who was born on the Okanagan Indian Reservation in British Columbia, has been touring the awards circuit with “All the Quiet Places.” The coming-of-age tale, from Touchwood Editions, was also on this year’s Giller Long List and was nominated for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Also among the fiction finalists are Cree-Métis writer Lisa Bird-Wilson’s “Probably Ruby,” about an adopted woman’s search for her Indigenous identity, published by Doubleday Canada, and the writer’s “Finding Edward.” by Hamilton Sheila Murray, which weaves the parallel stories of two biracial black men across decades, published by Cormorant Books.

Rounding out the short list, author Shashi Bhat from New Westminster, British Columbia, The Most Precious Substance on Earth, a darkly comedic novel that traces a young woman’s journey from high school student to high school teacher , published by McClelland & Stewart.

Carson, the celebrated Toronto-born wordsmith, returns to the Governor General’s short poetry list with her latest contemporary take on the classics, “H of H Playbook,” from New Directions Publishing.

Montreal writer and publisher David Bradford, finalist for the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize, is also in the running with his multimedia meditation on intergenerational trauma, “Dream of No One but Myself,” from Brick Books.

The other poetry nominees are: Avery Lake of Montreal for “Horrible Dance,” published by Brick Books; Annick MacAskill of Halifax for “Shadow Blight,” from Gaspereau Press; and Aaron Kreuter of Toronto for “Shifting Baseline Syndrome,” from the University of Regina Press.

In the non-fiction category, Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson are jointly nominated for their epistolary talk on the issues of the day, “Rehearsals for Living,” from Knopf Canada.

Canadian-born author Rebecca Donner is best known for “All the Troubles Frequent Today: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of Germany’s Resistance to Hitler.” The title, published by Little, Brown and Company, has won US accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography.

Author and researcher Britt Wray received a nod for “Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis,” published by Penguin Random House.

Eli Baxter is also nominated for “Aki-Wayn-Zih: A Person As Worthy As The Earth,” published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. In the book, Baxter blends spiritual teachings, history, and autobiography to frame his story of growing up in Ojibway hunting and gathering society and surviving the residential school system.

Also up for the non-fiction award is Winnipeg writer Rowan McCandless’ story of escaping an abusive relationship as a black, biracial woman in ‘Persephone’s Children: A Life in Fragments,’ published by RareMachines.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards will also recognize theatre, writing and illustration in children’s literature, as well as translation from French to English. There are separate French language categories for French writing.

The awards distribute a total annual prize value of $450,000.

Each winner receives $25,000, while the publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Finalists each receive $1,000.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on October 12, 2022.

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