Canada Council for the Arts

Canada Council for the Arts

November 27, 2007 11:00 ET

The Canada Council for the Arts Announces the Winners of the 2007 Governor General's Literary Awards

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 27, 2007) - The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the names of the winners of the 2007 Governor General's Literary Awards, in English and in French, in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children's literature (text and illustration) and translation.

The winners were announced by Simon Brault, vice-chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, and Melanie Rutledge, head of the Council's Writing and Publishing section, at a news conference in 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 71st presentation of the GGs, Canada's oldest and most prestigious awards for English- and French-language Canadian literature.

Nine of this year's winners are receiving Governor General's Literary Awards for the first time. For Michael Ondaatje, winner of the 2007 award in English-language fiction for Divisadero, this is his fifth award, tying the record set by the late Hugh MacLennan for the most Governor General's Awards in the prize's history. Other previous winners receiving awards this year include Daniel Danis (French-language drama), Serge Patrice Thibodeau (French-language poetry), Nigel Spencer (French-to-English translation), and collaborators Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagne (English-to-French translation).

"To hold a book in our hands is to hold a promise of freedom, discovery and adventure," said the Governor General. "Getting caught up in words and phrases, discovering worlds that others have created, travelling through time and space, accessing knowledge: there is no greater joy than reading! Let us celebrate these writers, those who awaken our senses and lead us down unexpected, unimagined and brilliant paths."

The Canada Council for the Arts funds, administers and promotes the Governor General's Literary Awards. For the first time, the value of each award will be $25,000, increased from $15,000 in celebration of the Canada Council's 50th anniversary. Each winner will also receive a specially-crafted copy of the winning book bound by Montreal bookbinder Lise Dubois. The publisher of each winning book will receive $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists will each receive $1,000 in recognition of their selection as finalists, bringing the total value of the Awards to approximately $450,000.

BMO Financial Group has been the sponsor of the GGs since 1988, providing support for the promotion of the winners and finalists.

"We are proud to support Canada's literary excellence and join the Canada Council in congratulating this year's laureates," said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group and Deputy Chairman, BMO Nesbitt Burns. "These authors, illustrators and translators are a true reflection of the diversity and geography of Canada and its literature. BMO is proud to celebrate their important contribution through the promotion of their works in bookstores, schools, libraries and events across the country."

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


Michael Ondaatje, Toronto, for Divisadero
(McClelland & Stewart; distributed by Random House of Canada) (ISBN 978-0-
Lyricism and whimsy are necessary ingredients of brilliant narrative
language, and Michael Ondaatje achieves this magnificently in Divisadero.
He establishes, in excellent measure, his mastery of poetic seduction,
while mindful to include tenderness, compassion and grace. Grace, after
all, is the ultimate gift which Ondaatje offers us in Divisadero.

Sylvain Trudel, Quebec City, for La mer de la Tranquillite
(Les editions Les Allusifs; distributed by Gallimard/Socadis) (ISBN 978-2-
This collection burns with the brilliant flame of Sylvain Trudel's language
as he conjures terrible, unforgettable worlds. To read him is an
unforgettable and stunning journey from which we do not emerge unscathed.


Don Domanski, Halifax, for All Our Wonder Unavenged
(Brick Books; distributed by LitDistCo) (ISBN 978-1-894078-58-6)
Stunningly beautiful and delicate, All Our Wonder Unavenged is a deeply
moving vision about the intricacies of the everyday world. A spiritual and
metaphysical triumph.

Serge Patrice Thibodeau, Moncton (NB), Seul on est
(Les Editions Perce-Neige; distributed by Prologue) (ISBN 978-2-922992-33-
This is a long poem on the solitary being, imagined, then written like a
motif that has been worked in myriad ways in a polished style. The poet's
mastery of language is apparent, with a conciseness that never gives in to
facileness. Serge Patrice Thibodeau avoids all the potential traps of
literary constraints. The verses give and take meaning in a rhythm and
voice that are sustained from the start.


Colleen Murphy, Toronto, for The December Man (L'homme de decembre)
(Playwrights Canada Press; distributed by publisher) (ISBN 978 - 0 - 88754
The December Man (L'homme de decembre) is a tragedy in which the humanity
of the characters gives the play a surprising buoyancy. Heartbreaking yet
never sentimental, spare yet complex, with a flawless structure, this is a
brave and important play.

Daniel Danis, St-David-de-Falardeau (QC), for Le chant du Dire-Dire
(Lemeac Editeur; distributed by Prologue) (ISBN 978-2-7609-0402-6)
Revealing the language of a great contemporary poet, this fable by Daniel
Danis - terrifying and magnificent, violent and sensual, with a deviant
oral character - connects with the great mythological tales.


Karolyn Smardz Frost, Collingwood (ON), for I've Got a Home in Glory Land:
A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad
(Thomas Allen Publishers; distributed by Thomas Allen & Sons) (ISBN 978-0-
I've Got a Home in Glory Land is a triumphant blend of archaeological and
historical research with literary story-telling. Karolyn Smardz Frost uses
the flight of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn from slavery in Kentucky to
freedom in Toronto to bring the Underground Railroad and its passengers to
life in remarkably rich detail. Moving and informative in the best sense,
the book will become an instant classic.

Annette Hayward, Kingston (ON), for La querelle du regionalisme au Quebec
(1904-1931): Vers l'autonomisation de la litterature quebecoise
(Editions du Nordir; distributed by Prologue) (ISBN 978-2-89531-049-5)
Annette Hayward sheds a decisive light on the quarrel that opposed
regionalist writers and the so-called 'exotic' poets in the first decades
of the twentieth century. The result is a resounding success, and a model
of literary historiography. With a sober and elegant style, the author
combines fine analysis, rigorous methodology and a careful treatment of
documentary sources.

Children's Literature - Text

Iain Lawrence, Gabriola Island (BC), for Gemini Summer
(Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division
of Random House; distributed by Random House of Canada) (ISBN 978-0-385-
73089-1 (trade) / 978 - 0 - 385-90111-6 (glb))
Just as the first appearance of a stray dog ignites "a little spark of
happiness" in nine-year-old Danny River, Gemini Summer kindles subtle yet
powerful emotions that linger well after one has turned the final page.
Lawrence's story is brilliantly imagined, his prose clear and poetic, his
characters irresistible.

Francois Barcelo, Montreal, for La fatigante et le faineant
(Soulieres editeur; distributed by Diffusion du livre Mirabel) (ISBN 978-2-
The work by Francois Barcelo is disarming in its simplicity, even as it
tackles the complex theme of intergenerational relationships. Barcelo takes
a fresh look at a subject that is as old as it is profoundly human. The
voices of the two sensitive characters ring true and the story is well
developed. The accessible language is imbued with a tenderness that will
leave no reader untouched.

Children's Literature - Illustration

Duncan Weller, Thunder Bay (ON), for The Boy from the Sun
(Simply Read Books; distributed by Publishers Group Canada / Raincoast
Business Services)
(ISBN 978-0894965-33-0)
Duncan Weller's The Boy from the Sun, with its striking mix of techniques,
lures the unsuspecting reader away from a dark, gloomy and featureless
industrial-urban milieu into a brilliantly coloured alternative world of
light, colour and hope, which, in a twist in a pictorial narration, turns
out to be the real world they were living in all along. This charming,
fresh and joyful book perfectly melds story and image, to both deliver its
message and form a thoroughly satisfying whole.

Genevieve Cote, Montreal, for La petite rapporteuse de mots, text by
Danielle Simard.
(Les editions Les 400 coups; distributed by Diffusion Dimedia) (ISBN 978-2-
We are dazzled by the refinement and intelligence of the illustrations by
Genevieve Cote, and by the simple and effective layout. The use of space
and the addition of white reinforce the emotion. The technique of
successive, reworked photocopies creates a muted, blurry effect that
poignantly translates the fading and gradual loss of memory.


Nigel Spencer, Montreal, for Augustino and the Choir of Destruction
(House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada) (ISBN 978-0-
English translation of Augustino et le choeur de la destruction by Marie-
Claire Blais (Les Editions du Boreal)
Nigel Spencer has performed a tour de force in Augustino and the Choir of
Destruction, his translation of the third volume in Marie-Claire Blais'
trilogy. The poignant and intricate stories of the novel's astonishing
constellation of characters are sensitively conveyed through his moving and
innovative use of language. Spencer has risen to the extraordinary
challenge of rendering Blais' uninterrupted stream of hallucinatory prose
into an accomplished and lyrical translation.

Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagne, Montreal, for Dernieres notes
(Les editions Les Allusifs; distributed by Gallimard/Socadis) (ISBN 978-2-
French translation of Last Notes and Other Stories by Tamas Dobozy (Phyllis
Bruce Book, HarperCollins Publishers)
Translators Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagne have successfully transposed
the diversity of narrative registers (journalism, introspection,
recollection) and styles, going from the ironic all the way to the
grotesque. They have thus recreated the distancing effect of exile, where
the bizarre and the familiar are inseparable.

The juries

The finalists of the Governor General's Literary Awards are chosen by
independent juries (seven English and seven French categories) appointed by
the Canada Council. The juries, which meet separately, consider all
eligible books published between September 1, 2006 and September 30, 2007
for English-language books and between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007 for
French-language books. This year, a total of 1,417 titles, 836 in the
English-language categories and 581 in the French-language categories, were

English-language juries

Fiction: Austin Clarke (Toronto), Eden Robinson (Haisla, BC), Rudy Wiebe
Poetry: Lillian Allen (Toronto), Christian Bok (Calgary), Christopher
Dewdney (Toronto)
Drama: Alanis King (Saskatoon), Daniel MacIvor (Halifax), Joan MacLeod
Non-fiction: Michael Bliss (Toronto), Afua Cooper (Toronto), Maggie Siggins
Children's Literature - Text: Deirdre Kessler (Charlottetown), Pamela
Porter (Sydney, BC), Simon Rose (Calgary)
Children's Literature - Illustration: Margaret Atwood (Toronto), Michael
Martchenko (Toronto), Ludmila Zeman (Montreal)
Translation: Jo-Anne Elder (Fredericton), Louise Forsyth (Calgary), Hugh
Hazelton (Montreal)

French-language juries

Fiction: Anne Dandurand (Montreal), Pierre Karch (Toronto), Monique Proulx
Poetry: Beddiari (Montreal), Tania Langlais (Montreal), Michel Therien
Drama: Louise Bombardier (Montreal), Antonine Maillet (Bouctouche, NB),
Francis Monty (Montreal)
Non-fiction: Georges Anglade (Montreal), Jean Morency (Moncton), Louise
Prescott (Montreal)
Children's Literature - Text: Anne Legault (Verdun, QC), Daniel Marchildon
(Penetang, ON), Jean Sioui (Wendake, QC)
Children's Literature - Illustration: Isabelle Beaudin (Ottawa), Leanne
Franson (Montreal), Pierre Pratt (Montreal)
Translation: Yolande Amzallag (Hampstead, QC), Annie Brisset (Ottawa),
Robert Paquin (Montreal)

Bookmark these dates!

Wednesday, December 12, 7 p.m. - Public reading by all Award winners
- Reading by the winners of the 2007 Awards in the Library and Archives
Canada Auditorium (395 Wellington St., Ottawa).
- Copies of the winning books will be on sale, and the winners will be
available to sign their books immediately following the reading.
- For information about the reading, contact Library and Archives Canada,

Thursday, December 13, 6 p.m. - Awards presentation at Rideau Hall
- Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of
Canada, will present the 2007 Literary Awards.
- The awards presentation will be followed by dinner and entertainment (by
invitation only).
- Media representatives wishing to cover the awards presentation should
contact Marie-Eve Letourneau at the Rideau Hall Press Office, 613-998-0287

Listen to the GGs!

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and Simply Audiobooks
recently unveiled the first-ever collection of Governor General's Literary
Award-winning books in audio format in an effort to expand access to
Canada's literary best. Eight of the winning titles for 2006 were released,
and the CNIB hopes to continue making GG-winning books available in audio
format in the future. 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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