Governor General's Literary Award short lists revealed
Author Emma Donoghue, whose novel "Room" is on the long list for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, is shown in this undated handout photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
Published Wednesday, October 13, 2010 2:58PM EDT
TORONTO - Regina-based authors and friends Dianne Warren and Sandra Birdsell have often bonded over their love of literature with a bottle of vino.
So when they both made the fiction short list Wednesday for the Governor General's Literary Awards, they knew exactly how to celebrate.
"We're going for a glass of wine," Warren said with a laugh, shortly after learning she'd been named a finalist for her debut novel, "Cool Water" (HarperCollins). The book, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize last month, profiles a fictitious small town in Saskatchewan.
"I'm happy for us and I'm happy for the West; it's nice to be represented," added Warren, 60, who was also a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award in the 1990s for her play, "Serpent in the Night Sky."
"The population is smaller here and when you look at the number of writers in the West compared to the number of writers say, in Toronto, you do feel kind of overwhelmed sometimes, so it's excellent."
Birdsell, 68, is a finalist for "Waiting for Joe" (Random House Canada), about a Saskatchewan couple caring for an elderly parent amid financial distress.
"Regina's a very small city, the writing community is quite vivid and alive and we see each other at all the same events," she said. "I am good friends with Dianne and several other women.
"We sometimes have backyard garden parties in the heat of summer where we drink too much wine and talk about the books that we've read."
Female writers dominate this year's Governor General's fiction short list, with Drew Hayden Taylor of Curve Lake, Ont., being the only male finalist for "Motorcycles & Sweetgrass" (Alfred A. Knopf Canada), which is set on an Ojibway reserve.
The short list also includes the headline-grabbing "Room" (HarperCollins Publishers) by Emma Donoghue, who was born in Dublin and lives in London, Ont. The novel, about a young boy and his mother held captive in a garden shed, lost out on the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday but it's also up for a Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Rounding out the Governor General's fiction list is "Annabel" from Montreal's Kathleen Winter. The story of a hermaphrodite child growing up in Labrador in the 1960s is also nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a Writers' Trust Award. It's the only title to make the short list for all three major Canadian fall book prizes.
Fiction jury members Ian Colford, Gerry Shikatani and Aritha van Herk narrowed down the field from 200 books read over about five months.
"In each case we have very unique, original choices here," said Shikatani. "They incorporate a language universe which is very unique ... and I think for all of them we got really engaged; we got seduced by them."
The Governor General's Literary Awards honour the best English-language and the best French-language books in seven categories, also including poetry, drama, children's literature (both text and illustration), and translation.
A total of 70 books are finalists for this year's awards, which are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Organizers say 1,702 eligible books were submitted this year, an increase of 161 books over last year.
Each winner will receive $25,000 and a special leather-bound copy of his or her book.
The publisher of each winning book gets $3,000 to support promotional activities, while non-winning finalists will each receive $1,000.
Winners will be announced Nov. 16 in Montreal and the awards will be presented Nov. 25 in Ottawa.
Non-fiction nominees include Ian Brown's "The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled Son" (Random House Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada), which has already won the prestigious Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction.
His competition includes John English for "Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968-2000" (Alfred A. Knopf Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada), which was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor.
The non-fiction short list also includes "A History of Marriage" (Penguin Group (Canada); distributed by the publisher) by Elizabeth Abbott; "Lakeland: Journeys into the Soul of Canada" (Greystone Books, an imprint of D&M Publishers; distributed by HarperCollins Canada) by Allan Casey; and "Burmese Lessons: A Love Story" (Random House Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada) by Karen Connelly.