The finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction
The $25,000 prizes recognize the best Canadian books of the year
Here are the finalists for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.
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, nonfiction, poetry, young people's literature — text, young people's literature — illustration, drama 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 nonfiction category was assessed by Sarah de Leeuw, Amanda Leduc and Evelyn C. White.
You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.
Get to know the nonfiction finalists below.
alfabet/alphabet by Sadiqa de Meijer
Sadiqa de Meijer is a poet who grew up in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada. alfabet/alphabet is a collection of essays that chronicle her transition from speaking primarily Dutch to speaking primarily English. The essays also explore language, migration, culture and storytelling.
De Meijer is a writer who was born in Amsterdam and is currently living in Kingston, Ont. Her other books include the poetry collections Leaving Howe Island and The Outer Wards. She won the 2012 CBC Poetry Prize for Great Aunt Unmarried.
Care of by Ivan Coyote
Care Of is a collection of moving correspondence Ivan Coyote wrote in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, in response to letters and communications they had received, some of which dated back to 2009. The correspondence ranges from personal letters to Facebook messages to notes received after performing onstage, Coyote told CBC Radio host Dave White on Airplay.
Coyote is a writer, storyteller and performer from Yukon. They have written more than a dozen books, created four short films and released three albums combining storytelling with music, and are known for exploring gender identity and queer liberation in their writing. Their other books include Tomboy Survival Guide, Rebent Sinner, Gender Failure, One in Every Crowd and the novel Bow Grip. Coyote won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.
Revery: A Year of Bees by Jenna Butler
Jenna Butler spent five years working with bees on her Alberta farm, and she chronicles this journey in the essay collection Revery: A Year of Bees. The essays reflect on Butler's personal story, the development of industrial farming in Alberta and the practical aspects of caring for bees and running a farm.
Butler is a writer, environmentalist and professor currently living in Alberta. Her other books include the poetry collections Seldom Seen Road, Wells and Aphelion; the essay collection A Profession of Hope and the travelogue Magnetic North. She teaches writing at Red Deer College.
The Day the World Stops Shopping by J.B. MacKinnon
In The Day the World Stops Shopping, environmentalist and writer J.B. MacKinnon asks the question: What would happen if we stopped shopping? What impact on the environment would it have? How would the economy need to change? Is it the answer we need to help prevent further ecological and environmental damage? MacKinnon examines different cultures, from hunter-gatherer societies to North America's late capitalism, to understand the role resources play in society. He also looks at the impact on shopping in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and then imagines what it would take to arrive at a shopping-free future.
MacKinnon is a journalist and writer who lives in Vancouver. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Dead Man in Paradise and The Once and Future World and is the co-author of the book The 100-Mile Diet, which popularized the local food movement.
What I Remember, What I Know by Larry Audlaluk
Larry Audlaluk was born in Inukjuak in northern Quebec, but his family was relocated to Grise Fiord in the High Arctic in 1953, where they found a polar desert not fit to build a community. Audlaluk was sent to residential school, survived, and returned to his community to become a leader and advocate for it in the face of colonialism and lack of resources. He finally shares his remarkable story in What I Remember, What I Know.
Audlaluk is a community leader for Grise Fiord and for the High Arctic. What I Remember, What I Know is his first book.