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Women Dominate The Winners Circle For This Year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards
November 13, 2012
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The winners of the 2012 Governor General's Literary Awards were announced today, and this year's list is dominated by women.

Of the 14 categories, women won 10 of them - including five of the seven English-language categories.

The awards offer "not only a chance to honour our very best books, but it is also a chance to pay tribute to Canadians who are rising stars in the world of literature," Gov. Gen. David Johnson said in a statement.

"I congratulate all the winners who have worked hard to add their tale to our collective memories."

women-dominate-the-winners-circle-at-this-years-governor-generals-literary-awards-feature2.jpgToronto author Linda Spalding the fiction prize for her book 'The Purchase' - a novel about slaves and slave owners that was inspired by tales from her ancestors, who were Quakers.

The jury praised Spalding's writing as "warm, dignified prose".

Vancouver author Susin Nielsen took home the prize for 'children's literature - text' for 'The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen.'

It's a moving, yet wildly funny story of a 13-year-old who deals with grief and major life change.

The jury referred to it as "Thought-provoking and relevant, it addresses the effects of bullying in a realistic, compelling and compassionate way, exemplifying the adage 'There are two sides to every story."

Illustrator Isabelle Arsenault of Montreal won the award for 'children's literature - illustration' for the book 'Virginia Wolf', which loosely explores the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell.

Ross King, who grew up in Saskatchewan, took the non-fiction prize for 'Leonardo and the Last Supper'.

It examines daVinci's 15th century painting of Jesus with his disciples as well as the man who commissioned the work.

The jury called it "a combination of brilliant storytelling and superlative writing," that "portrays the towering genius of Leonardo in a way that will engage experts and delight a general audience."

Nova Scotia playwright Catherine Banks won the drama honour for 'It is Solved by Walking.'

Montreal's Julie Bruck (now based in San Francisco) won the poetry prize for 'Monkey Ranch.'

Another Montrealer, Nigel Spencer, won his third translation award for adapting Marie-Claire Blais - this time for 'Mai at the Predators' Ball.'

Each winner receives $25,000. An additional $3,000 goes to his or her publisher.

The French winners are:
• Fiction: Pour sur, France Daigle (Moncton, N.B.).
• Poetry: Un drap. Une place., Maude Smith Gagnon (Montreal).
• Drama: Contre le temps, Geneviève Billette (Montreal).
• Non-fiction: Comment tuer Shakespeare, Normand Chaurette (Montreal).
• Children's, text: Un été d'amour et de cendres, Aline Apostolska (Montreal).
• Children's, illustration: La clé a molette, Élise Gravel (Montreal).
• Translation: Glenn Gould, Alain Roy (Montreal, text by Mark Kingwell).

The Canada Council for the Arts announces the winners.

All 14 will officially receive their awards from the Governor General at a gala at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on November 28.

One of the finalists in the non-fiction category - Wade Davis - has won Britain's top non-fiction literary honour.

Davis - who is an author and explorer - won the $32,000 Samuel Johnson Prize at a ceremony in London for his book 'Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest.'

In it, Davis revisits the story of British mountaineer George Mallory, who said he wanted to climb Mount Everest - the world's highest peak - "because it is there."

His body was found in 1999 after 75 years on the mountain.

Davis was in the red chair to speak with George about his book. You can see that here.

The CBC's Nahlah Ayed was also nominated in the non-fiction category for her book 'A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter's Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring.'

Nahlah spent seven years as a correspondent in the Middle East. She grew up in Winnipeg but as a child, her parents moved her family to a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan so they would better understand their heritage.

In this clip, she talks about that time in her life and how it has shaped her world experience.

You can watch the full interview here.

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