Here are the winners of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Awards
Joel Thomas Hynes has won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for his novel We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, a lurching, frenetically-paced book about one man's history of violence and petty crime.
The Governor General's Literary Awards, one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes, annually acknowledge seven English-language and seven French-language books across several categories. Each winner receives $25,000.
In addition to We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, the English-language winners of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Awards are:
- Nonfiction: The Way of the Strangers by Graeme Wood
- Poetry: On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood by Richard Harrison
- Young people's literature — text: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
- Young people's literature — illustrated books: When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
- Translation: Readopolis translated by Oana Avasilichioaei from the original French by Bertrand Laverdure
- Drama: Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa
On Nov. 30, 2017, the winners will gather in Ottawa to perform readings and sign their books for the public.
Each year, in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts, CBC Books publishes a commissioned series featuring original writing from winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards. This year's series, which will reflect on the theme Chaos and Control, will be published on Dec. 1, 2017. A companion radio episode will air on CBC Radio's Ideas on Dec. 7, 2017.
Keep reading to learn more about each of the 2017 English-language winners.
Fiction: We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes
The entirety of We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night is written in the voice of its protagonist, Johnny Keough, an unhinged, tragicomic character from rural Newfoundland who has been both the victim and perpetrator of cruel acts. Keough refers to himself in the third person throughout his frenetic narration, taking his audience and his ex-girlfriend's ashes on a west-ward journey, all the while ducking the police and mining his own dark memories.
Hynes' novel was on the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Since he published Down to the Dirt in 2004, Hynes has become known for stories of the Newfoundland anti-hero. As an actor, Hynes has appeared on Orphan Black and Frontier.
Nonfiction: The Way of the Strangers by Graeme Wood
In The Way of the Strangers, journalist Graeme Wood interviews supporters, recruiters and sympathizers of ISIS from around the world, including followers from Egypt, Australia, Great Britain and the Philippines. Wood also meets with Muslim scholars, vociferous critics of ISIS, and investigates where the tenets of ISIS come from, how it might be dismantled and what its defeat might mean for the world.
Wood is a correspondent for The Atlantic and political science lecturer at Yale University. He lived in and wrote about the Middle East from 2002 to 2006.
Poetry: On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood by Richard Harrison
In 2013, Richard Harrison worried his father's ashes would be swept away in Alberta's flood. The crisis led Harrison to reflect on his father's final years, blighted by dementia. Despite his illness, Harrison's father never forgot the lines of poetry he had learned as a student and passed on to his son. The poetry book On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood is a personal, moving elegy on Harrison's relationship to his father.
Harrison is an award-winning poet and essayist, and teaches creative writing at Calgary's Mount Royal University. On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood also won the 2017 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry.
Young people's literature — text: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
In The Marrow Thieves' dystopian world, Indigenous people in North America are on the run. Hunted for their bone marrow, which contains the widely-lost ability to dream, Indigenous people are being caught and imprisoned in residential schools. His parents and brother lost, Frenchie is brought into a new family and is taught how to hunt, conceal and survive.
Cherie Dimaline is an award-winning YA author, whose books include The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy and A Gentle Habit. The Marrow Thieves received a coveted starred review from Kirkus and was nominated for their annual book award.
Young people's literature — illustrated books: When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
In this picture book, a girl asks her kókom why she wears bright colours, why she speaks another language and why she spends so much time with her brother. Her kókom responds by telling her granddaughter about growing up in residential school, a place where she could only be herself in secret.
When We Were Alone is David A. Robertson's first picture book, though he's published graphic novels like Will I See? and the novel The Evolution of Alice. Julie Flett is an award-winning illustrator whose books include Little You and Owls See Clearly At Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer). Their collaboration was also a finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award.
- How David Alexander Robertson wrote a picture book about the history of Canada's residential schools
Translation: Readopolis translated by Oana Avasilichioaei from the original French by Bertrand Laverdure
Readopolis follows an inconsolable, literature-obsessed man named Ghislain, who reads manuscripts at a Quebec publisher for a living. Frustrated by work and the state of literary arts in Quebec, Ghislain invents an idiosyncratic new world to occupy his time. The book incorporates different literary forms, including Socratic dialogue, film script and dystopian novella.
Readopolis is Oana Avasilichioaei's second translation of Bertrand Laverdure's work. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, poet and translator. Her books include We, Beasts and Limbinal.
Drama: Indian Arm by Hiro Kanagawa
Unspoken tension and resentment lead to tragedy for the family at the heart of Indian Arm. Hiro Kanagawa's play follows Rita, Alfred and their adopted son Wolfie, a 16-year-old First Nations teenager who lives with cerebral hypoxia. Rita and Alfred have drifted apart since becoming parents, leaving Wolfie caught in the middle of an unhappy couple. Adding to the building chaos is Asta, Rita's half-sister, who is evading a discussion about an expired lease.
Kanagawa is an actor and writer from Port Moody, B.C. Indian Arm is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's 1894 play Little Eyolf. It won the 2015 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Script.