Canada Council for the Arts

Canada Council for the Arts

November 21, 2006 11:00 ET

The Canada Council for the Arts Announces the Winners of the 2006 Governor General's Literary Awards

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 21, 2006) - The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the names of the winners of the 2006 Governor General's Literary Awards, in English and in French, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, children's literature (text and illustration) and translation.

The winners were announced by Robert Sirman, director of the Canada Council, and Laurent Lapierre, a member of the Canada Council's board, at simultaneous news conferences in Toronto and Montreal. They will be presented with their awards by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall on December 13. This year marks the 70th presentation of the Governor General's Literary Awards, Canada's oldest and most prestigious award for English- and French-language Canadian literature.

The Canada Council for the Arts funds, administers and promotes the Governor General's Literary Awards. Each winner receives a cheque for $15,000 and a specially-crafted copy of the winning book bound by Montreal bookbinder Lise Dubois. The Governor General will also present certificates to the publishers of the winning books, and the Canada Council will provide each publisher with a $3,000 grant to support promotional activities for the winning book.

"Books are what remain. If I were asked what books mean for me, I would respond solitude, freedom and sharing", said the Governor General. "Authors choose to isolate themselves at first in order to share their dreams, images and knowledge. And I, like many other readers, choose to change this moment of solitude into an intimate exchange that makes me dream, learn, laugh and reflect. Year after year, our authors enrich and renew our cultural heritage and it is my pleasure to invite all Canadians to celebrate the winners of the Governor General's literary awards. I salute and warmly congratulate them."

"The Canada Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2007, and the Governor General's Literary Awards have been an integral part of our history for almost all of that time," Mr. Sirman said. "The Council was created to support and promote the best of what Canadian artists have to offer, and this year's GG winners are a prime example."

BMO Financial Group has been the sponsor of the Governor General's Literary Awards since 1988. BMO's generous contribution has allowed, among other things, the production of material aimed at promoting the finalists and winners in bookstores, schools, libraries and at public events across Canada.

"We are pleased to support these awards, which celebrate outstanding achievement in Canadian literature," said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group and Deputy Chairman, BMO Nesbitt Burns. "Our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners."

The names of the winners and titles of their works are listed below, together with jury comments for each work. Biographical information and downloadable images are posted on the Canada Council's web site at


Peter Behrens, Brooklin, Maine (formerly of Montreal), for The Law of Dreams

(House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada) (ISBN 0-88784-207-0)

The Law of Dreams is an epic novel populated by extraordinary characters traversing the bleak moment of famine in Irish history. Peter Behrens, with authorial imagination and a wealth of historical detail, guides us through the blight with unparalleled intimacy.

Andree Laberge, Quebec City, for La riviere du loup

(XYZ editeur; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia) (ISBN 2-89261-445-7)

In an enchanting style, the author creates a universe that is inhabited - or, more accurately, possessed - by individuals who are larger than life, all in search of the absolute. This polyphonic tale originates in the depths of the subconscious. Andree Laberge gives us a meditation on culture and nature in a magnificent novel whose voice, like a raging river, resonates for a long time.


John Pass, Madeira Park (BC), for Stumbling in the Bloom

(Oolichan Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press) (ISBN 0-88982-201-8)

John Pass's poems are luminous meditations engaging us in form and style with emotion, spirit and thought. Stumbling in the Bloom approaches the world's beauty with awe and tenderness, celebrating all that engulfs and eludes us.

Helene Dorion, Saint-Hippolyte (QC), for Ravir : les lieux

(Editions de la Difference; distributed by Socadis; Diffusion Dimedia as of December 1, 2006) (ISBN 2-7291-1575-7)

The poetry of Helene Dorion is shot through with images and elements from nature. This meditation seeks to measure the meaning of the world "in the resting place of time." Helene Dorion explores the paths of a writing of darkness in search of its own light.


Daniel MacIvor, Halifax, for I Still Love You

(Playwrights Canada Press; distributed by the publisher) (ISBN 0-88754-858-X)

A dazzling display of virtuosity and honesty, these plays demonstrate the author's consummate theatricality, as well as his compelling humanity. Journeying from the archetypal male world of Never Swim Alone to the dynamic female world of A Beautiful View, this collection is quintessential MacIvor, breathtakingly innovative and overwhelmingly recognizable.

Evelyne de la Cheneliere, Montreal, for Desordre public

(Editions Fides; distributed by Socadis) (ISBN 2-7621-2683-5)

Evelyne de la Cheneliere closely observes her characters, and with small, delicate touches, extracts pieces of their souls with the delicacy of a lacemaker. In mellifluous and astonishingly precise language she traces the contours of a fragile humanity with infinite compassion.


Ross King, Woodstock, Oxon, UK (formerly of Saskatchewan), for The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism

(Bond Street Books, an imprint of Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House of Canada; distributed by the publisher) (ISBN 0-385-66102-9 (bound) / (0-385-66103-7 (paper))

The Judgment of Paris is nonfiction at its best. Ross King's narrative, which evokes the rise of Impressionism, is layered with intrigue and high politics. He uses the artist Ernest Meissonier's mastery of detail to create a sweeping portrait of a revolutionary decade.

Pierre Ouellet, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), for A force de voir : histoire de regards

(Editions du Noroit; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia) (ISBN 2-89018-563-X)

Pierre Ouellet's book is a major contribution to the reading of contemporary art. His vast culture subtly reveals the works studied, and his precise use of language wonderfully combines the lyrical and the informative. The boldness of his corpus and the level of the discourse are astonishing. This book speaks of the relevance of contemporary art and opens the way to a better understanding with generosity and conviction.

Children's Literature - Text

William Gilkerson, Mahone Bay (NS), for Pirate's Passage, illustrated by the author

(Trumpeter Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Shambhala Publications; distributed by Random House of Canada) (ISBN 1-59030-247-8)

Steeped in wit, philosophy and mystical ambiguity, William Gilkerson's Pirate's Passage takes a maverick approach to history. A challenging children's novel with a dangerous edge, Pirate's Passage is a work of genius, a benchmark in Canadian literature.

Dany Laferriere, Montreal, for Je suis fou de Vava, illustrations by Frederic Normandin

(Les Editions de la Bagnole; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel) (ISBN 2-923342-03-8)

With Je suis fou de Vava, Dany Laferriere delves into the heart of his childhood and the culture of Haiti for an innocent and sensitive evocation of love. His poetry-filled text has the added merit of bringing cultures together. The perfect balance between text and illustration make for a book that is as deliciously appealing as a basket of fresh fruit.

Children's Literature - Illustration

Leo Yerxa, Ottawa, for Ancient Thunder, text by Leo Yerxa

(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada) (ISBN 0-88899-746-9)

Through a unique creative process, and with poetic honesty, Leo Yerxa's emotionally powerful images transport us, with the echo of ancient hoof-beats, over the Great Plains. Using the motif of traditional dress and a rich palette, Yerxa creates compositions that illustrate the mystical connection between horse and humanity.

Roge (Roger Girard), Montreal, for Le gros monstre qui aimait trop lire, text by Lili Chartrand

(Dominique et compagnie, a division of Les editions Heritage; distributed by Les Messageries ADP) (ISBN 2-89512-389-6 (bound) / 2-89512-454-X (paper))

This book hangs together beautifully. The design is seductive and luminous, and the images provide a wonderful counterpoint to the text. Roge is a talented colourist and his generous brush strokes introduce us to a host of characters - huge and small, and always irresistible!


Hugh Hazelton, Montreal, for Vetiver

(Signature Editions; distributed by University of Toronto Press) (ISBN 1-897109-04-0)

English translation of Vetiver, by Joel Des Rosiers (Les editions Triptyque)

Hugh Hazelton's outstanding translation of Vetiver creatively maintains the rich, poetic narrative of Joel Des Rosiers' powerful work. Hazelton clearly demonstrates his skill as a poet and translator, eloquently evoking "the sweet violence of Vetiver" through his ability to recreate Des Rosiers' wide-ranging images and literary, historical and musical allusions, with personal and universal echoes.

Sophie Voillot, Montreal, for Un jardin de papier

(Editions Alto; distributed by Socadis) (ISBN 2-89518-223-X)

French translation of Salamander by Thomas Wharton (McClelland & Stewart)

With rare lexical and idiomatic precision, this brilliant translation recreates a fabulous universe of marvelous characters, from printers to automatons. Sophie Voillot has been able to preserve, with seemingly effortless ease, the style, sober tone and subtle humour of the novel by Thomas Wharton.

The juries

The winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards are chosen by independent juries (seven English and seven French categories) appointed by the Canada Council for the Arts. The juries, which meet separately, consider all eligible books published between September 1, 2005 and September 30, 2006 for English-language books and between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006 for French-language books. This year, a total of 1,465 titles, 840 in the English-language categories and 625 in the French-language categories, were submitted.

English-language juries

Fiction: Shani Mootoo (Toronto), Donna Morrissey (Halifax), Leon Rooke (Toronto)

Poetry: Cyril Dabydeen (Ottawa), Mary Di Michele (Montreal), Evelyn Lau (Vancouver)

Drama: Lise Ann Johnson (Ottawa), Jenny Munday (Guysborough, NS), John Murrell (Calgary)

Nonfiction: Allan Levine (Winnipeg), Lee Maracle (Toronto), Fred A. Reed (Montreal)

Children's Literature - Text: Brian Doyle (Chelsea, QC), Susan Juby (Nanaimo, BC), Carol McDougall (Halifax)

Children's Literature - Illustration: Pamela J. Masi (Cardston, AB), Susan Tooke (Halifax), Ange Zhang (Scarborough, ON)

Translation: Edward Baxter (Stratford, ON), Lorin Card (Kelowna, BC), Maureen Ranson (Calgary)

French-language juries

Fiction: Aristote Kavungu (Whitby, ON), Carole David (Montreal), Elise Turcotte (Montreal)

Poetry: Margaret Michele Cook (Ottawa), Renaud Longchamps (Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, QC), Jean Royer (Montreal)

Drama: Rene Cormier (Caraquet, NB), Rene-Daniel Dubois (Montreal), Carole Frechette (Montreal)

Nonfiction: Marie Bernard-Meunier (Montreal), Hugues Corriveau (Weedon, QC), Melchior Mbonimpa (Sudbury, ON)

Children's Literature - Text: Louis-Dominique Lavigne (Montreal), Milagros Ortiz-Brulot (Abbotsford, BC), Denise Paquette (Moncton)

Children's Literature - Illustration: Stephane Jorisch (Saint-Lambert, QC), Darcia Labrosse (Ottawa), Francine Sarrasin (Calixa-Lavallee, QC)

Translation: Patricia Godbout (Sherbrooke, QC), Nesida Loyer (Calgary), Raymond Mopoho (Halifax)

Awards presentation

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2006 Awards in all categories on Wednesday, December 13 at 6 p.m. Media representatives wishing to cover the ceremony should contact Lucie Brosseau at the Rideau Hall Press Office at 613-998-0287 or A reception and dinner in honour of the winners will be held that evening (by invitation only).

Public reading at Library and Archives Canada

The winners of the 2006 Awards (all categories) will read from their winning books in the Library and Archives Canada Auditorium (395 Wellington St., Ottawa) on Thursday, December 14 at 7 p.m. Copies of the winning books will be on sale, and the winners will be available to sign their books at intermission and immediately following the reading. Admission is free of charge, and on a first-come, first served basis. For information about the reading, contact Library and Archives Canada at 613-996-5115.

Listen to the GG's!

In an effort to increase public access to the winning books, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, in consultation with the winning publishers, will produce them in digital audio format, for release in 2007. For more information about this project, contact Shelagh Paterson, Director, Advocacy, Sales and Marketing, CNIB Library, 416-486-2500, ext. 7670.

Tous les documents du Conseil des Arts du Canada sont disponibles en francais et en anglais.

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