Borders

The 2018 Governor General's Literary Award winners write about borders

In this special series of new, original writing the winners of the 2018 Governor General's Literary Awards reflect on the theme of borders: lines that, when crossed, mark a change.

A special series of new, original writing brought to you in partnership with the Canada Council

Borders is a special CBC Books series of new, original writing brought to you in partnership with the Canada Council. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

The seven English-language books that won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Awards take place in a range of times and landscapes — from Sodom and Gomorrah, Victorian England, 1980s West Africa, present-day Canada, 1990s America and beyond. One theme that they all explore is the idea of borders: permeable, shifting lines that, when crossed, mark a change.

CBC Books asked each writer to reflect further on borders and, in return, each has delivered an original work inspired by this theme. This is Borders, a special series presented in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Read on for links to each of the winners' pieces.

On Dec. 12, 2018 at 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT), listen to a special episode on this series from CBC Radio's Ideas.

Perseus/Andromeda/Medusa by Sarah Henstra

Perseus/Andromeda/Medusa is a story by Sarah Henstra. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

Sarah Henstra re-imagines the myth of the Greek hero Perseus, telling his story from the perspective of two significant women in his life: Andromeda, his wife, and Medusa, the Gorgon he beheaded to great fame.

Henstra won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for her novel The Red Word.

Spanning Borders by Darrel J. McLeod

Spanning Borders is an essay by Darrel J. McLeod. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In this personal essay, Darrel J. McLeod reflects on the many ways he has stretched himself between two cultures — first as an Indigenous boy at a primarily white school and later as an executive with the federal government.

McLeod won the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction for his memoir Mamaskatch.

This Face by Jillian Tamaki

This Face is a comic by Jillian Tamaki. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In this comic strip by Jillian Tamaki, two lovers lay in bed. While one is fast asleep, the other lovingly examines their partner's every groove and feature.

Tamaki won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustration for They Say Blue.

Vanishing Point by Jonathan Auxier

Vanishing Point is a story by Jonathan Auxier. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In this children's story by Jonathan Auxier, a young girl discovers an unusually sharp pencil with remarkable powers.

Auxier won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text for Sweep.

Bare Witness by Jordan Tannahill

Bare Witness is a poem by Jordan Tannahill. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

Jordan Tannahill's Bare Witness is a poetic rally cry to transcend the borders imposed upon land, upon a public and upon the body.

Tannahill won the Governor General's Literary Award for drama for Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom.

tally recounted by Cecily Nicholson

tally recounted is an essay by Cecily Nicholson. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In this essay, Cecily Nicholson discusses her experiences visiting the Fraser Valley Institute for Women, a prison in B.C.

Nicholson won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry for Wayside Sang.

Thoughts on Translation by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott

Thoughts on Translation is an essay by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

In this essay, Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott share how translated literature transcends borders and brings diverse cultures together.

Aronoff and Scott won the Governor General's Literary Award for translation for Descent into Night.

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