Books

The finalists for the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction

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

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

The 2022 Governor General's Literary Awards for nonfiction finalists. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

Here are the finalists for the 2022 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: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people's literature — textyoung people's literature — illustrationdrama and French-to-English translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories. 

The Canada Council for the Arts is a partner of the CBC Literary Prizes. The 2023 CBC Short Story Prize is currently open for submissions.

Each winner will receive $25,000. The winners will be announced on Nov. 16, 2022.

The nonfiction category was assessed by Will Aitken, Madhur Anand and Jenna Butler.

You can see the finalists in all seven categories here.

Get to know the nonfiction finalists below.

Aki-Wayn-Zih by Eli Baxter

Aki-Wayn-Zih is a book by Eli Baxter. (Eli Baxter, McGill Queen's University Press)

Residential school survivor Eli Baxter is among the last fluent speakers of Anishinaabaymowin, an Anishinaabay language. In Aki-Wayn-Zih, Baxter looks at the history of the Anishinaabayg and their relationship with the land since the beginning of their life on Turtle Island. He brings together thousands of years of history with his personal story, growing up on the land, trapping and fishing, and his experience being forced to attend residential school. Aki-Wayn-Zih is about the importance of spirituality, language, history and of sharing stories.

Baxter is a residential school survivor and certified Ontario teacher. Aki-wayn-zih is his first book.

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner 

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days is a biography by Rebecca Donner. (rebeccadonner.com, Little, Brown & Company)

Rebecca Donner's All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days is about the author's great-great aunt Mildred Harnack-Fish, an American woman who gave her life to resisting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. While teaching at the University of Berlin and pursuing their PhDs in the 1930s, Mildred and her husband Arvid organized resistance efforts at great risk to their lives, distributing leaflets that denounced Hitler and finding channels to slip information out of the country. Both were eventually arrested and sentenced to death in the 1940s.

All The Frequent Troubles of Our Days also won the U.S. prize National Book Critics Circle Award for biography.

Donner is a writer who was born in Vancouver and now lives in New York. She is also the author of the novel Sunset Terrace and the graphic novel Burnout. In 2022, she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship.

LISTEN | Rebecca Donner discusses the legacy of Nazi resistor Mildred Harnack-Fish:

American Mildred Harnack-Fish was a key resistance figure in Nazi Germany — she fed secrets to the allies, and was ultimately killed on Adolf Hitler's direct orders. Her Canadian-born great-great niece Rebecca Donner tells the story in her new book, All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days.

Generation Dread by Britt Wray

Generation Dread is a book by Britt Wray. (Arden Wray/Penguin Random House)

Science writer and scholar Britt Wray specializes in the mental health impacts of the ecological crisis. Her book Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis shares productive ways to cope, think, and act while facing an anxious ecological present and uncertain future.

Wray is a science writer who focuses on the intersection of mental health and climate change. She is also the author of Rise of the Necrofauna. She is currently a fellow at Stanford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has hosted and produced programs for CBC Radio and the BBC.

LISTEN | Britt Wray discusses the rise of climate anxiety, and what we can do about it:

Science writer and scholar Britt Wray specializes in the mental health impacts of the ecological crisis. Her new book, Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis, shares productive ways to cope, think, and act while facing an anxious ecological present and uncertain future.

Persephone's Children by Rowan McCandless

Persephone's Children is a book by Rowan McCandless. (Dundurn Press)

Persephone's Children tells the story of Rowan McCandless escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship and rediscovering her voice and identity. Through a series of thematically linked and inventive essays, including a contract, a crossword puzzle and a metafictional TV script, she explores the relationship between memory and trauma. 

McCandless is a writer from Winnipeg. She has won the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize and has been longlisted for the Writers' Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard & Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Canadian academics Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson turned their pandemic letters into a new book called Rehearsals for Living. (Stacy Lee Photography, Nadya Kwandibens)

The concept behind the book Rehearsals for Living formed during the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. Authors Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson began writing each other letters — a gesture sparked by a desire for kinship and connection during a trying time. Rooted in Black and Indigenous perspectives on race, gender and class, Rehearsals for Living is an epistolary dialogue about the world we live in and a need for change.

Maynard is a Montreal-based Black feminist writer, activist and educator. Maynard's writing and work focus on documenting racist and gender-based state violence. Her debut book, Policing Black Lives, traced the underreported modern and historical realities of anti-Blackness within a Canadian context.

​Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, activist, musician, artist, author and member of Alderville First Nation. Her work often centres on the experiences of Indigenous Canadians. Her books include Islands of Decolonial Love, This Accident of Being Lost, As We Have Always Done and Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies.

LISTEN | Robyn Maynard and Leanne ​Betasamosake Simpson on the need for social change:

Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson talk to Shelagh Rogers about their book, Rehearsals for Living.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

now