David Gilmour wins GG for English fiction

Toronto author and journalist David Gilmour has won the Governor General's award for English fiction for his novel, 'A Perfect Night to Go to China.'

Toronto author and journalist David Gilmour has won the Governor General's award for English fiction for his novel, A Perfect Night to Go to China.

The book is about a father's attempt to come to terms with his pain and guilt after his child disappears.

"Haunting, spare and lyrical, A Perfect Night to Go to China recounts a distraught father's nightmare as he comes to terms with his own culpability," the jury commented.

The awards were announced Wednesday morning in Montreal and will be given to the winners in Ottawa next week by Governor General Michaelle Jean. The announcement was made in Montreal in honour of the designation of Montreal as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2005-06.

"I feel incredibly good and the reason I feel good is because I have a future," Gilmour said in an interview with Canadian Press. "I know now that I can sit down and write another novel and not feel defeated before I start but actually feel like anything can happen to it, the sky's the limit."

Gilmour says he wrote 17 drafts of A Perfect Night to Go to China before he was happy with it.

"If this book had flopped it would be very hard for me to sit down again for three or four years in a room and give it a whole shot because I'd think, Well... we're just going to end up in exactly the same place as before."

Gilmour is author of five previous novels, including Sparrow Nights, Lost Between Houses and Back on Tuesday.

The other finalists for English-language fiction were:

  • Joseph Boyden for Three Day Road.
  • Golda Fried for Nellcott is My Darling.
  • Charlotte Gill for Ladykiller.
  • Kathy Page for Alphabet.
  • John Vaillant of Vancouver won the non-fiction award for The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed, a dramatic account of a disgruntled logger's destruction of a legendary tree in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

    It is Vaillant's first book. He has written for Outside, National Geographic and The New Yorker magazines.

    The jury described the book as "a quintessential Canadian story" that "charts the destruction of communities and old-growth forests in British Columbia."

    The winner of the French language award for fiction was Japanese-born Aki Shimazaki whose book Hotaru is fifth in a series about the lives of two Japanese families. The first novel in the series, Tsubaki, has been translated into five languages.

    French language literature winners for translation, non-fiction, poetry, drama and children's literature were also announced.

    Anne Compton of Rothesay, N.B., won the English-language poetry award for her book Processional.

    "This book skillfully marries history to the present, and pulls the everyday into light," the jury said of Processional, which is Compton's second collection of original verse. A professor at University of New Brunswick, she is also an essayist and critic.

    Toronto's John Mighton, who won the Siminovitch Prize earlier this fall, won the drama prize for Half Life. Mighton, who trained as a mathematician, is recognized for his ability to marry science and the creative spirit.

    The award for children's literature writing went to Pamela Porter of Sidney, B.C., for The Crazy Man, her second novel, about a Saskatchewan family torn apart by a farm accident. Rob Gonsalves won the children's literature illustration prize for Imagine a Day, a book by Sarah L. Thomson.

    Truth or Death: The Quest for Immortality in the Western Narrative Tradition, won an English translation prize for Fred A. Reed of Montreal. The original work Raconter et mourir: aux sources narratives de l'imaginaire occidental was by Thierry Hentsch.

    The Governor General's Literary Award comes with $15,000 in prize money. Each winner also gets a specially bound copy of their book.

    More than 800 English-language books and 600 French-language books were nominated for the awards. Each of the four finalists receives $1,000 and the publisher of the winning book gets $3,000 to support promotion of the book.

    The Canada Council for the Arts funds and administers the Governor General's Literary Awards. Two seven-member juries, one for French-language literature and one for English-language literature, choose the winners.