Celebrating 75 years of the GGs: Sarah Slean

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The Governor General's Literary Awards turn 75 this year.

The awards were the first to honour excellence in Canadian writing and were initiated by our 15th Governor General, Lord Tweedsmuir. He was the Scottish politician and author, a.k.a. John Buchan, who wrote the celebrated spy novel The Thirty-Nine Steps. Since their inception, the awards have grown to include the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Children's Literature (text and illustration) and Translation, in both English and French.

The list of GGLA winners includes Canadian writers that are now recognized as global literary superstars: Farley Mowat, Stephen Leacock, Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro, Leonard Cohen, Gabrielle Roy, Daniel McIvor, Pierre Berton, Michael Ondaatje and Rohinton Mistry, to name just a few. Their work reflects the depth and richness of Canadian literature.

CBC Books has partnered with the Canada Council for the Arts to produce a series of videos to celebrate this landmark anniversary. We asked a number of high-profile Canadians to tell us about their favourite Governor General's Award-winning book.


Today's video comes from singer/songwriter Sarah Slean. Her favourite Governor General's Award-winning book is The Collected Poems of Al Purdy.

Sarah Slean is a singer-songwriter and one of the shining stars of the Canadian indie music scene. Originally from Pickering, Ontario, she recorded her first album when she was just 19 and her fifth and latest, Land & Sea, came out this past September. She has a deep love for the work of one of Canada's greatest poets and chose to talk about The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry in 1986.

Test your knowledge of GG history by taking our CanLit quiz!

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