Books

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

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 translation.

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.

The translator of the winning book in this category will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Oct. 29, 2019.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

887 by Robert Lepage, translated by Louisa Blair

887 is a play translated by Louisa Blair. (House of Anansi Press)

1960 marked the beginning of Quebec's Quiet Revolution — a time of social and political transformation, reflecting new attitudes toward religion, culture and the economy. Playwright Robert Lepage grew up in a working-class neighbourhood of Quebec City during these changing times. He portrays his childhood in his acclaimed play 887, translated by Louisa Blair, which invites the audience into the Quebec City apartment complex — 887 avenue Murray — that was his home for a decade.

Lepage is internationally recognized for his work in theatre and opera. Blair is an editor, writer and translator from Quebec City.

Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau

Birds of a Kind was translated by Linda Gaboriau. (Playwrights Canada Press, Josée Lambert)

In Birds of a Kind, a play set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a suicide bombing rocks Jerusalem. An Israeli-German scientist named Eitan is injured in the attack and slips into a coma. His girlfriend Wahida, a Moroccan graduate student, sits at his hospital bedside, unsure of how to contact his family who disapprove of their intercultural relationship. 

Wajdi Mouawad is a playwright and officer of the Order of Canada. Linda Gaboriau is a Montreal-based playwright and dramaturge. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award for translation twice before — in 1996 for Stone and Ashes and in 2010 for Forests. She has been shortlisted an additional six times.

Synapses by Simon Brousseau, translated by Pablo Strauss

Synapses is translated by Pablo Strauss. (Étienne Dionne, Talonbooks)

Synapses collects a series of "literary snapshots," which attempt to capture the poignant and mundane moments of human existence. Each snapshot is comprised of a single rambling sentence, written in the second person, that takes up a quarter to half a page. The narrators of this book string together a series of observations — paranoid, witty and detailed — as they watch clouds, contend with daily chores and reminisce about Beverly Hills, 90210.

Simon Brousseau is a writer from Montreal and recently published the book Les fins heureuses.

Pablo Strauss is a translator whose most recent books include Of Vengeance written by J.D. Kurtness and The Dishwasher by Stéphane Larue. Strauss was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for translation in 2017 for The Longest Year.

The Embalmer by Anne-Renée Caillé, translated by Rhonda Mullins

The Embalmer was translated by Rhonda Mullins. (Coach House Books, Owen Egan)

The narrator of the novel The Embalmer is the daughter of a small-town embalmer. She is curious about her father's work, searching him for his most gruesome stories and the unusual facts of death that he harbours.

Anne-Renée Caillé is a writer from Montreal. The Embalmer is her first book.

Rhonda Mullins is a translator from Montreal. She won the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for translation in 2015 for Twenty-One Cardinals by Jocelyne Saucier. She has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award an additional five times. Mullins's books have also twice appeared on Canada Readsmostly recently in 2019 for Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette.

Vi by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman

Vi is translated by Sheila Fischman. (Vintage Canada)

Named after its narrator, Kim Thúy's novel Vi is the story of a young, prosperous family's escape from the Vietnam War to a new life in Quebec. Vi, the youngest of four children, paints loving portraits of those closest to her — her mother, her brothers, a family friend named Ha — and quietly grows into her own as an independent young woman. 

Vi was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Sheila Fischman is a translator with over 150 works to her credit. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for translation in 1988 for Bambi and Me, written by Michel Tremblay, and has been a finalist an additional 17 times. Her translations of Kim Thúy's Ru and Hubert Aquin's Next Episode won Canada Reads in 2015 and 2003, respectively.

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