Books

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for translation

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for translation.
The finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translation. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for translation.

The Governor General's Literary Awards are one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious literary 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 June 1, 2021.

The translation category was assessed by Angela Carr, Jo-Anne Elder and Nigel Spencer.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the translation finalists below.

Amaryllis & Little Witch by Pascal Brullemans, translated by Alexis Diamond

Amaryllis & Little Witch, two plays by Pascal Brullemans, was translated by Alexis Diamond (pictured). (Playwrights Canada Press/Ron Diamond)

Amaryllis & Little Witch is a set of two plays, both are dark fairy tales. Each story features a young girl facing a dangerous situation and must make a difficult choice. In Amaryllis, a young girl goes missing on her birthday while she was planning to scatter her sister's ashes, while in Little Witch, a young girl ends up living with an ogre after her mother dies.

Pascal Brullemans is a playwright from Montreal. His other plays include HippocampeVipérine and Ce que nous avons fait.

Alexis Diamond is a playwright, opera librettist and translator from Montreal. She creates theatrical productions for all ages.

Back Roads by Andrée A. Michaud, translated by J.C. Sutcliffe

Back Roads is a book by Andrée A. Michaud (pictured) and translated by J. C. Sutcliffe. (House of Anansi Press, Marianne Deschênes)

Set in the snowy boreal wood, Back Roads follows a writer, who encounters a woman who she suspects may be her double and must grapple with an undetermined crime — and her own identity. Translated into English by J.C. Sutcliffe, the novel sets off a journey of inquiry in which nothing, not even the author's own identity, is certain. 

Andrée A. Michaud is a novelist and playwright from Quebec. Michaud is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction, for Le ravissement in 2001 and Bondrée in 2014.

Sutcliffe is a writer, translator and editor. Her other translations include Mama's Boy by David Goudreault, Document 1 by François Blais and Worst Case, We Get Married by Sophie Bienvenu.

If You Hear Me by Pascale Quiviger, translated by Lazer Lederhendler

If You Hear Me by Pascale Quiviger was translated by Lazer Lederhendler (pictured). (Biblioasis, Monique Dykstra)

In If You Hear Me, a family must grapple with a devastating accident. After David falls from a scaffolding at the construction site where he works, he goes into a coma. His wife, Caroline, and son, Bertrand, visit him every day. But despite talking to him, it appears they cannot connect. If You Hear Me is a book bout this divide, about a family in mourning, and about what it really means to be alive.

Pascale Quiviger is a writer from Quebec who nows likes in the U.K. Her novel Le Cercle parfait won the Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction, while the English translation of the novel (titled The Perfect Circle) was a finalist for the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Lazer Lederhendler is a translator and academic from Montreal. He has been previously nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translation several times times. He won the prize in 2008 for his translation of Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner and again in 2016 for his translation of The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux.

The Country Will Bring Us No Peace by Matthieu Simard, translated by Pablo Strauss

The Country Will Bring Us No Peace by by Matthieu Simard was translated by Pablo Strauss (pictured). (Étienne Dionne, Coach House Books)

In The Country Will Bring Us No Peace, a young couple, Simon and Marie, can't get pregnant. They decide to leave city life for a slower, quieter life in the village. But things are far from idyllic. The town is gloomy, and hasn't been the same since the factory closed. But when people start disappearing, it appears there is more to the town's depressing state than a lack of hope and opportunity.

Matthieu Simard is a novelist and screenwriter from Montreal. His other books include La tendresse waitra tanké and Llouis qui tomb tout sole.

Pablo Strauss is an editor and translator from Quebec. He was previously nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translations for his work on Synapses by Simon Brousseau and The Longest Year by Daniel Grenier.

The Neptune Room by Bertrand Laverdure, translated by Oana Avasilichioaei

The Neptune Room by Bertrand Laverdure was translated by Oana Avasilichiaeoi (pictured). (Book*hug Press, www.oanalab.com)

The Neptune Room is a novel about a young girl, Sardine. Her father has died, and her mother will die soon as well, very soon. She finds comfort and companionship in her doctor, Tiresias. The Neptune Room is about identity, power, mourning and pain, and how to navigate loss and profound change.

Bertrand Laverdure is a writer from Montreal. He is also the author of the novels Universal Bureau of Copyrights and Readopolis and the poetry collections Cascadeuse and Sept et demi.

Oaana Avasilishoioaei is a writer, artist and translator. She has written several poetry collections, including We, Beasts, Limbinal and Operator. She won the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for translation for her translator of Laverdure's Readopolis.

Avasilichioaei is also a finalist in the poetry category this year, for her collection Eight Track.

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