Books

The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year. The winners will be announced on Nov. 17, 2021.

The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year

The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

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

The prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories: fiction, nonfictionpoetryyoung 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 Nov. 17, 2021.

The fiction category was assessed by Kristen den Hartog, Chris Eaton and Suzette Mayr.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the fiction finalists below.

Fictional Father by Joe Ollmann

Fictional Father is a comic by Joe Ollman. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Fictional Father is the story of a washed-up middle-aged painter named Caleb. Now that he's sober, he must face his untapped potential, his past and his father who made millions writing a family-oriented cartoon while neglecting his own son. Caleb is determined to face his demons and be a better man than his father. Fictional Father explores family, regret and what it means to make art.

Joe Ollmann is a comic book artist and illustrator from Hamilton, Ont. His other comics include The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, Happy Stories About Well-Adjusted People and Mid-Life.

Home Waltz by G. A. Grisenthwaite

Home Waltz is a novel by G. A. Grisenthwaite. (Palimpsest Press)

Home Waltz is a novel about 15-year-old mixed-blood Nłeʔkepmx boy known as "Squito" Bob, trying to figure out his place in the world. He's not fully accepted as white or Indigenous, and often feels left out in his community and among his friends. Home Waltz follows "Squito" Bob and his friends over one big weekend, exploring friendship, identity and romance along the way.

G. A. Grisenthwaite is Nłeʔkepmx, a member of the Lytton First Nation who currently lives in Kingsville, Ont. His work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, Our Stories Literary Journal and Prism International. 

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second Place is a novel by Rachel Cusk. (HarperCollins Canada)

Second Place is a novel about a woman who invites a famous artist to her remote coastal town. She hopes that his vision and talent will change her life, and her perspective on things. What unfolds is a study of humanity, beauty and connection, as the novel explores how our internal and external lives are connected.

Second Place was also longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize.

Rachel Cusk is a Canadian-born novelist who lives in the U.K. She is best known for her Outline trilogy, which is comprised of the novels Outline, Transit and Kudos. Both Outline and Transit were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning

Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a short story collection by Norma Dunning. (Emily Weisz Studios, Douglas & McIntyre)

Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a collection of six stories from Inuk writer Norma Dunning. Each of the stories focuses on a contemporary Inuk character, and explores themes such as homelessness, spirituality, death, displacement, loneliness, alienation and community connection.

Dunning is an Inuk writer who currently lives in Edmonton. She is also the author of the short story collection Annie Muktuk and Other Stories and the poetry collection Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit IdentityAnnie Muktuk and Other Stories won the 2018 Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which recognizes the best debut short story collection of the year.

Norma Dunning talks to Shelagh Rogers about her book, Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories. 12:24

You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked. by Sheung-King 

You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is a book by Sheung-King. (Maari Sugawara, Book*Hug Press)

You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is a surreal novel about a translator who travels the globe with his lover. Along the way, they tell each other stories, pose philosophical questions and share their ideas about the world. It's glamorous and stimulating, but the lover often disappears without explanation.

Sheung-King is a writer born in Vancouver, raised in Hong Kong and currently living in Toronto. You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. is his first book.

Our books columnist Jael Richardson fills us in on a new read to check out: Sheung-King's debut novel You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked. 9:30

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