Books

The finalists for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction

The 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards will be awarded to books in seven English-language categories, each featuring five finalists. The winners will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.
The winners of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards will be announced on Oct. 29. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

The Governor General's Literary Awards are one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes. 

The awards, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are given in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people's literature — textyoung people's literature — illustrationdrama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

City of Omens by Dan Werb

City of Omens is a nonfiction book by Dan Werb. (Joseph Fudo, Bloomsbury Publishing)

In City of Omens, epidemiologist Dan Werb travelled to Tijuana, Mexico's third-largest city. He investigates why its murder rate has skyrocketed over the past decade and finds that an overwhelming proportion of the victims are women. In searching for the roots of the violence, Werb finds himself in factory slums, drug dens and corrupt police corridors on a trail that, to his surprise, leads north over the border.

Werb is an assistant professor at the University of California San Diego and University of Toronto. City of Omens is his first book.

Fryderyk Chopin by Alan Walker

Fryderyk Chopin is a biography by Alan Walker. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Fryderyk Chopin is a comprehensive biography that dispels long-held myths about the Polish composer. Alan Walker spent 10 years researching this book, chronicling Chopin's childhood, legendary career and romantic relationship with George Sand.

Walker is a professor emeritus at McMaster University. He previously published a biography on Franz Liszt, for which he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography.

Sea Trial by Brian Harvey

Sea Trial is a nonfiction book by Brian Harvey. (ECW Press)

In Sea Trial, Brian Harvey takes a boat around Vancouver Island with his wife, dog and a box of his late father's documents. The box contains records from a malpractice suit that Dr. John Harvey, a retired neurosurgeon, never recovered from. Harvey sifts through the court transcripts and expert testimonies for the first time, finally understanding what happened that night in his father's operating room.

Harvey is the author of three works of fiction and two works of nonfiction. He lives in Nanaimo, B.C.

Tiny Lights for Travellers by Naomi K. Lewis

Tiny Lights for Travellers is a memoir by Naomi K. Lewis. (University of Alberta Press, @naomiklewisauthor/Facebook)

Facing the dissolution of her marriage, Naomi Lewis uncovered a family treasure: her Opa's diary, which details his escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1942. Lewis travels to Amsterdam on a solo trip to retrace his steps, discovering family secrets and pondering the impact of the Holocaust on present and future generations. She chronicles this journey in Tiny Lights for Travellers.

Lewis is the author of the novel Cricket in a Fist, the short story collection I Know You Remind Me Of and Tiny Lights for Travellers. She lives in Calgary.

To the River by Don Gillmor

To the River is a memoir by Don Gillmor. (Ryan Szulc, Random House Canada)

When David Gillmor disappeared more than 10 years ago, his truck and cowboy hat were found at the edge of the Yukon River. His body was recovered six months later, just as his brother Don Gillmor journeyed to Whitehorse to canoe through the waters his brother had departed from. To the River explores how survivors of suicide cope with a loved one's decision to take their own life and examines the larger social, cultural and psychological questions surrounding suicide, especially among middle-aged men.

Gillmor is a Toronto journalist and author of novels and nonfiction books like Canada: A People's History. He has twice been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in the young people's literature — text category for The Fabulous Song and The Christmas Orange.

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