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2018 Governor General's Awards


Each year, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor General of Canada collaborate to honour the finest in Canadian literature with the Governor General's Literary Award. Check out our collection of winners from previous years.

Here are the fiction and nonfiction finalists for 2018:

Henstra, Sarah
The red word

2018 Fiction Winner: Quill & Quire says: "In The Red Word, Sarah Henstra, a professor of English at Toronto’s Ryerson University and the author of the young-adult novel Mad Miss Mimic, explores the connections between 21st-century ideas of gender roles and rape culture on one hand, and myth on the other. She does so in arguably the most poignant setting of all: a college campus, the locus for both the promulgation and deconstruction of cultural mythology."

McLeod, Darrel

2018 Non-Fiction Winner: Quill & Quire writes: "In his debut memoir, writer Darrel J. McLeod uses the imagery and tenets of Cree storytelling to make sense of a harrowing childhood. McLeod has written a powerful, unflinching work of non-fiction, one that isn’t afraid to leave itself raw and unfinished, nodding to the stories that are yet to come."

Cooper, Paige.

Short-listed for the 2018 Fiction Award. Quill & Quire says: "Cooper’s main theme is love, but rarely have love stories seemed less clichéd and predictable. None of the book’s 14 pieces is quite like any of the others, and their settings range from eerie but recognizable variations on the present (Latvia; small-town America; Russia; southeast Asia) to dreamscapes of the future. Indeed, Zolitude engages in a degree of world-building unusual in Canadian literary fiction, with Cooper jumping from a future West Coast devastated by a massive earthquake to a vanguard colony dedicated to terraforming Mars to the jungle construction site of the world’s first fusion reactor."

Hage, Rawi.
Beirut Hellfire Society

Short-listed for the 2018 Fiction Award. Quill & Quire says: "This is a book of mourning for the many who witnessed senseless wars, and for those who perished in those wars.” So writes Rawi Hage in the acknowledgements to his fourth novel. Death is front and centre in Beirut Hellfire Society, but in Hage’s rendering it is as sensual as it is senseless; this new work of fiction extends the streak of absurdity that runs through the author’s previous three books."

Toews, Miriam
Women talking

Short-listed for the 2018 Fiction Award. Quill & Quire says: "Women Talking is not an easy book. Toews doesn’t hold back from presenting readers with the bloody truth of the abuse the women suffered, or – as exemplified by one character – their enshrined acceptance of it. Despite moments of much-needed levity, the dominant tone is anger; passionate outbursts, particularly from standout character Salome, provide some of the most powerful moments in the story. As the women work through their options and ultimately reach a consensus, readers bear witness to their enlightenment and self-actualization. And that, when it happens, is a beautiful, hopeful thing to behold."

Whitehead, Joshua
Jonny Appleseed

Short-listed for the 2018 Fiction Award. CBC writes: "You're gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine" is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez," and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum."


Aida Edemariam.
The wife's tale

Short-listed for the 2018 Non-Fiction Award. Kirkus Review says: "In this ambitious, elegantly descriptive, but occasionally disjointed narrative, Edemariam interweaves the story of her grandmother Yetemegnu's eventful life with the tumultuous history of Ethiopia."

Mailhot, Terese.
Heart berries

Short-listed for the 2018 Non-Fiction Award. From citation: Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island reserve in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist."

Cragg, Carys.
Dead reckoning

Short-listed for the 2018 Non-Fiction Award. Quill & Quire says: "The world stops caring, and we all fall down.” This sentiment lies at the heart of Carys Cragg’s gripping and immersive memoir, Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father. What begins as a cautious back-and-forth between Cragg and her father’s killer swiftly moves into a rich, multi-faceted rumination on the nature of punishment, restorative justice, and the harsh reality of reconciling a life with that of someone else, when what brought those lives together is an act of immense violence."