Governor General's Awards: Vincent Lam among authors shortlisted
Paul Irish, The Star
ormer Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam, CBC reporter Nahlah Ayed and writer Noah Richler are among the authors shortlisted for the $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Awards.
Lam, who in 2006 won the Giller for Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, is shortlisted for the fiction prize The Headmaster’s Wager. Other nominees in that category are Tamas Dobozy, Kitchener, Ont., for Siege 13; Robert Hough, Toronto, for Dr. Brinkley’s Tower; Carrie Snyder, Waterloo, Ont., for The Juliet Stories; and Linda Spalding, Toronto, for The Purchase.
Ayed and Richler are nominated in the non-fiction category for A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring and What We Talk About When We Talk About War, respectively. Also shortlisted are Carol Bishop-Gwyn, Toronto, for The Pursuit of Perfection: A Life of Celia Franca; Wade Davis, Vancouver, for Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest; and Ross King, Woodstock, U.K. (originally from North Portal, Sask.), for Leonardo and the Last Supper.
Shortly after being informed of her nomination, Spalding summed up the accomplishment in one breath: “I feel pretty happy.”
The Toronto author, 69, said she has always written but was never published until she was 40.
She said it took her a while to get her actual career moving but advises that there are still a lot of magazines in Canada where neophytes can test the waters.
The Purchase revolves around Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, who leaves his home in Pennsylvania in 1798 to establish a new life.
He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead.
“People are frightened of getting rejected … it’s natural,” she said, of submitting stories. “But it’s best to get your work out there.”
She says it’s wonderful being nominated for the award but refuses to get in a knot over it.
“I like the book … I’m happy with what I’ve done,” she says.
Snyder said her nomination “really is a dream come true” since she has been taking pen to pad since she was a child.
“I remember being 7 and reading in the Guinness Book of World Records that the youngest published author was 4,” she said with a laugh. “I was annoyed.”
Her work The Juliet Stories depicts the life of a 10-year-old Juliet Friesen, whose family moves to Nicaragua.
It’s 1984, the height of Nicaragua's post-revolutionary war, and the peace-activist Friesens have come to protest American involvement.
She said she has never won or been nominated for a major prize before and calls the news a significant event in her life.
“But I’ve always written and I always will,” she says. “In good times and not so good times … I just love to write.”
Canada’s national literary awards celebrate literature for all tastes and ages by honouring the best English language and the best French-language books in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature (text), children’s literature (illustration), and translation.
The Canada Council for the arts funds, administers and promotes the Governor General’s Literary Awards, with each winner receiving $25,000, a specially-bound copy of their work with winning publishers receiving $3,000 to support promotional activities.
Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000 in recognition of their selection as finalists, bringing the total value of the awards to about $450,000.
The final announcement is made at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Quebec in Montreal with other honours at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 28.
Since their creation in 1937, The Governor General’s Literary Awards have become one of Canada’s most prestigious prizes.
Poetry — English
Julie Bruck, San Francisco, CA (originally from Montréal), Monkey Ranch (Brick Books; distributed by LitDistCo)
David McGimpsey, Montréal, Li’l Bastard (Coach House Books; distributed by LitDistCo)
A. F. Moritz, Toronto, The New Measures (House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
Lisa Pasold, Toronto, Any Bright Horse (Frontenac House; distributed by Alpine Book Peddlers)
James Pollock, Madison, WI (originally from Southern Ontario), Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press; distributed by Ingram Book Company)
This year’s French language finalists include:
Ryad Assani-Razaki, Montréal, La main d’Iman (Éditions de l’Hexagone, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature, a Quebecor Media company; distributed by Messageries ADP)
Charles Bolduc, Montréal, Les truites à mains nues (Leméac Éditeur; distributed by Socadis)
France Daigle, Moncton, New Brunswick, Pour sûr (Éditions du Boréal; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
Catherine Mavrikakis, Montréal, Les derniers jours de Smokey Nelson (Héliotrope; distributed by Gallimard)
Audrée Wilhelmy, Montréal, Oss (Leméac Éditeur; distributed by Socadis)
Corinne Chevarier, Montréal, Anatomie de l’objet (Éditions Les Herbes rouges; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
Fredric Gary Comeau, Montréal, Souffles (Écrits des Forges; distributed by Prologue)
Hélène Dorion, Sherbrooke, Québec. Coeurs, comme livres d’amour (Éditions de l’Hexagone, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature, a Quebecor Média company; distributed by Messageries ADP)
Christian Saint-Germain, Montréal, Tomahawk (Éditions du Noroît; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
Maude Smith Gagnon, Montréal, Un drap. Une place (Éditions Triptyque; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
Normand Chaurette, Montréal, Comment tuer Shakespeare (Presses de l’Université de Montréal; distributed by Socadis)
Pierre Nepveu, Montréal, Gaston Miron: la vie d’un homme (Éditions du Boréal; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia)
Pascal Riendeau, Toronto, Méditation et vision de l’essai : Roland Barthes, Milan Kundera et Jacques Brault (Éditions Nota bene; distributed by Socadis)
Yannick Roy, Montréal, La révélation inachevée : le personnage à l’épreuve de la vérité romanesque (Presses de l’Université de Montréal; distributed by Socadis)
© 2012 Toronto Star