Yesterday’s revealing of the Giller Prize shortlist, today’s announcement of the Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists, both on the heels of last week’s release of the five finalists for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, means that the big three Canadian literary prizes are counting down the days until we find out who wrote the best in Canadian literature for 2014.
Each year, it seems a handful of the nominees for these prestigious CanLit prizes have come from the magazine world; this year, almost all of the shortlisted authors have National Magazine Awards on their resumes.
Former National Magazine Award winner Miriam Toews (Gold Medal, Humour, Saturday Night, 1999) made the shortlist for both the Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Prize for her novel All My Puny Sorrows, which some critics consider to be the favourite for one or both prizes.
Also on the shortlist for the Giller is two-time National Magazine Award winner Heather O’Neill (Gold Medal, Best Short Feature, Chatelaine, 2011; Gold Medal, Best Short Feature, ELLE Canada, 2010) for her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. Read our interview with Heather about her writing career.
Sean Michaels, twice a National Magazine Award winner (Gold Medal, One of a Kind, Brick, 2010; Silver Medal, Words & Pictures, The Walrus, 2012) is on the Giller shortlist for his novel Us Conductors. Read more about Sean’s work from our One of a Kind summer reading series.
David Bezmozgis, nominated for the Giller Prize for his novel The Betrayers, won a Silver Medal at the 2003 National Magazine Awards for his Fiction in Prairie Fire.
A fifth Giller shortlisted author, Frances Itani for her novel Tell, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1995 (Saturday Night). The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, by Padma Vishwanathan, is the final novel on the Giller Prize shortlist. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto on November 10. The winner receives $100,000; all other finalists receive $10,000.
GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARDS
Four of the five finalists for the GG Fiction (English) award are former National Magazine Award winners and nominees:
- Juliet Was a Surprise, by Bill Gaston (Gold Medalist, Fiction, Event, 2011)
- The Back of the Turtle, by Thomas King (Silver Medalist, Fiction, Saturday Night, 1991)
- The Opening Sky, by Joan Thomas (Silver Medalist, Personal Journalism, Prairie Fire, 1995)
- Sweetland, by Michael Crummey (Honourable Mention, Poetry, The New Quarterly, 2012)
The fifth GG fiction finalist is Claire Holden Rothman for her novel My October.
In the GG Non-Fiction (English) category, all four finalists are former National Magazine Awards nominees:
- The Oilman and the Sea, by Arno Kopecky
- Up Ghost River, by Alexandra Shimo (co-authored with Edmond Metatawabin)
- Know the Night, by Maria Mutch
- The End of Absence, by Michael Harris
Finally, for the GG Award for Children’s Book Illustration, one of the finalists, Jillian Tamaki, is a three-time National Magazine Award winner for Illustration. Read our interview with Jillian about her career as an illustrator.
The Governor General’s Literary Awards honour excellence in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature (text), children’s literature (illustration), and translation. The winners will be announced online on November 18, 2014, with a public event to follow in Ottawa on November 26 (English-language winners) and November 27 (French-language winners).
WRITERS’ TRUST FICTION PRIZE
For the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, joining Miriam Toews are 3 former National Magazine Awards nominees: André Alexis (Fiction, Event, 2009) for his novel Pastoral; Steven Galloway (Humour, Vancouver Magazine, 2005) for his novel The Confabulist; and K.D. Miller (Fiction, The Capilano Review, 1997) for her novel All Saints. Rounding out the shortlist is Carrie Snyder for Girl Runner. The winner of the Writer’s Trust Prize receives $25,000; all finalists receive $2500. The winner will be announced at the Writers’ Trust Awards in Toronto on November 4.
Congratulations to all the finalists. A great CanLit awards season awaits, and we’ve got lots of reading to do!
Looking for last-minute stocking stuffers and holiday gifts? A subscription to an award-winning Canadian magazine is a great place to start. Magazines Canada’s digital newsstand offers subscription deals on dozens of great magazines. A literary magazine would make any lover of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction squeal with delight.
After magazines, books are every reader’s favourite gift, so here at the National Magazine Awards Foundation we’ve compiled a short list of great new books, all by National Magazine Award-winning writers.
The Dogs Are Eating Them Now, by Graeme Smith
The winner of this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust prize for non-fiction, The Dogs are Eating Them Now is a comprehensive reportage of Canada’s role in the Afghanistan War, by 3-time National Magazine Award winner Graeme Smith.
The Once and Future World, by J.B. MacKinnon
Longlisted for the 2014 RBC Taylor Prize for Non-fiction, this powerful meditation on how we can re-imagine and restore the wilderness around us, by 11-time National Magazine Award winner J.B. MacKinnon, is a must-read for anyone who lives, works or plays in Canada’s great outdoors. (Read our interview with J.B. MacKinnon.)
Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, by Alison Wearing
In a compelling memoir about growing up with a gay father in 1980s rural Ontario, National Magazine Award-winning travel writer Alison Wearing weaves a moving coming-of-age story with the challenging social and political climate of the struggle for gay rights in Canada.
Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, by Marcello Di Cintio
Winner of the 2013 Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, this gripping collection of travel narratives and reportage from divided lands–Israel/Palestine, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the U.S.-Mexico border, and more–is truly inspiring.
An Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King
Once a National Magazine Award winner for Fiction in Saturday Night (1991), aboriginal writer Thomas King (Cherokee nation) tells a comprehensive and witty history of North America’s indigenous people’s encounters with Europeans.
Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark, by Mary Janigan
Also on the long list for the RBC Taylor Prize, this investigation into the regional rivalry between Western and Eastern Canada over issues of energy strategy and economic policy is scintillating. Mary Janigan is a former journalist with Maclean’s and a winner of a National Magazine Award in 1992.
Little Ship of Fools, by Charles Wilkins
A story that began on an innovative rowboat attempting a first-of-its-kind crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and continued in the pages of Explore magazine, where it won a 2011 National Magazine Award, Little Ship of Fools, by one of Canada’s premier adventure writers, Charles Wilkins, is the complete chronicle of Big Blue, the record-breaking rowboat, and the incredible crew that propelled her across the sea.
Hellgoing, by Lynn Coady
The winner of this year’s Giller Prize as Canada’s best work of fiction, Hellgoing by Edmonton’s Lynn Coady needs almost no introduction. Lynn Coady is a 5-time National Magazine Award nominee, including this year for the story “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries), which is part of the collection Hellgoing.
The Sky is Falling, by Caroline Adderson
Caroline Adderson won the Gold 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Ellen-Celine, Celine-Ellen” (Canadian Notes & Queries). She is the author of three novels and several children’s books. Her work has received numerous prize nominations including the the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
Ablutions, by Patrick deWitt
Patrick deWitt won the Silver National Magazine Award for fiction in 2012, for “The Looking Ahead Artist” (Brick). Originally from Vancouver, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
The World, by Bill Gaston
Victoria native Bill Gaston won the 2011 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Four Corners” (Event). His short-story collection Gargoyles was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize.
Easy Living Stories, by Jesus Hardwell
Jesus Hardwell won the 2010 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “Sandcastles” (Event). The story was also short-listed for the prestigious Journey Prize and featured in the Journey Prize Anthology. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Ballistics, by D.W. Wilson
Born and raised in British Columbia, D.W. Wilson won 2008 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Elasticity of Bone” (Malahat Review). He is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of short stories. He was shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.
The Hungry Ghosts, by Shyam Selvadurai
Toronto’s Shyam Selvadurai won the 2006 Gold National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Demoness Kali” (Toronto Life). He is the acclaimed author of the novels Funny Boy, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a national bestseller, and Cinnamon Gardens, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award.
Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese
The winner of this year’s First Nations Book Award, Indian Horse, by Ontario Ojibway author Richard Wagamese, tells the story of the journey that Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying.
The O’Briens, by Peter Behrens
Montreal-born Peter Behrens won the 2006 Silver National Magazine Award for fiction, for “The Smell of Smoke” (The Walrus). He is the author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, The Law of Dreams, published around the world to wide acclaim, and a collection of short stories, Night Driving.
Submissions are now being accepted for the 2013 National Magazine Awards. Deadline for entries: January 15.
Off the Page appears regularly on the Magazine Awards blog. Today we catch up with writer J.B. MacKinnon, winner of 11 National Magazine Awards and author of The Once and Future World (Random House Canada).
NMAF: In an essay titled “A 10 Percent World” (The Walrus, September 2010), you argued that humanity’s vision of an idyllic past is myopic; that in seeking to temper the impact that we have on our environment, our purpose “is not to demand some return to a pre-human Eden, but rather to expand our options”; that “our sense of what is possible sets limits on our dreams.” What did you mean by expanding our options beyond the limits?
J.B.: “A 10 Percent World” looks at the natural world of the historical past—a much richer and more abundant state of nature than we know today. We’ve largely forgotten this more plentiful world, and that limits our sense of the possible.
Yes, it’s depressing to find out that grizzly bears used to live on the Canadian Prairies and they don’t any more, or that Vancouver waters were home to a year-round population of humpback whales that were all slaughtered by 1908. But if we aren’t aware of these facts, then the absence of the bears and the whales seems normal. When we do become aware of them, we’re able to set a higher bar for our vision of what nature can be.
NMAF: That essay won a National Magazine Award in 2011. What impact did the magazine publication and the award have on your decision to pursue a book project, resulting in your recently published The Once and Future World?
“A 10 Percent World” was that initial foray into the depths. The story had an impact on readers, and when it also won a magazine award I was able to move forward on the book with a lot more confidence.
NMAF: You’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade, with 11 National Magazine Awards (and 31 nominations). What role do Canadian magazines play in your career, and what significance do you put on winning awards?
J.B.: I became a writer during the largely overlooked great recession of the early 1990s, and the limited opportunities of that time made a deep impression on me. Fortunately, a few Canadian editors took a chance on my work, and I’ve been able to build from there. But I’m always trying to sharpen my teeth—to push toward deeper themes or better writing. It doesn’t always work, and I appreciate that Canadian magazines are still giving me chances. They don’t always expect me to show up with all my t’s crossed and i’s already dotted.
Awards are one way to measure whether or not what I’m doing on the page is working—the awards themselves matter less to me than the nominations. Consistent nominations tell me that I’m continuing to do work that is recognizably among the best in the country. Actually taking home a gold or silver is a much less predictable matter. Of course, when it happens, well… it never gets old, let’s say that.
J.B. MacKinnon is the award-winning author of The Once and Future World, The 100-Mile Diet and Dead Man in Paradise. His writing has appeared in great Canadian magazines including Explore, The Walrus, This Magazine and more. He was the writer for the documentary Bear 71, which explores the intersection of the wired and wild worlds through the true story of a mother grizzly bear. Discover more at jbmackinnon.com.
Tomorrow the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto. The five shortlisted novelists and short-story writers are among Canada’s most celebrated authors, and four of them are previously National Magazine Award honorees:
- Lynn Coady, a Writers’ Trust finalist (and winner of the Giller Prize) for Hellgoing, is a five-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently in 2012 for two stories, “Publish then Perish” (Eighteen Bridges) and “Dogs in Clothes” (Canadian Notes & Queries); the latter is one of the stories included in Hellgoing.
- Lisa Moore, shortlisted for Caught, is a two-time National Magazine Award finalist, most recently for “Notes from Newfoundland” (2011, The Walrus).
- Cary Fagan, shortlisted for A Bird’s Eye, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2007, for his story “Shit Box” (Taddle Creek).
- Krista Bridge, shortlisted for The Eliot Girls, was nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction in 2002, for “Crusade” (Toronto Life).
The fifth Writers’ Trust finalist is Colin McAdam, for A Beautiful Truth, which was also shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award earlier this year.
The other two finalists are Doretta Lau (“How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?”; Event magazine) and Naben Ruthnam (“Cinema Rex”; The Malahat Review).
Canadian book award season continues today with the presentation of the Governor General’s Literary Awards, better known as the GGs, in Ottawa, and several former National Magazine Award winners are among the finalists.
This most comprehensive of literary awards programs honours excellence in book-length fiction, poetry, non-fiction, drama, children’s text, children’s illustration and translation, with awards for both English- and French-language entries.
In the Fiction (English) category, the finalists include former National Magazine Award winner Shyam Selvadurai, for his novel The Hungry Ghosts. Mr. Selvadurai won NMA gold for fiction in 2006, for “The Demonness Kali” published in Toronto Life.
Former NMA finalist Kenneth Bonnert is also up for a GG in fiction, for The Lion Seeker. The rest of the GG shortlist includes Eleanor Catton, Joseph Boyden and Colin McAdam.
In the Children’s Illustration (French) category, two-time National Magazine Award winner Isabelle Arsenault is among the finalists, for Jane, le Renard et moi. Ms. Arsenault won a National Magazine Award earlier this year for her work in Quebec Science magazine.
In the Poetry (English) category, the shortlist includes two-time National Magazine Award finalist Don Domanski, for his collection Bite Down Little Whisper. Mr. Domanski’s most recent National Magazine Award nomination came in 2009, for the poem “Radiance and Counterpoint” published in Grain.
Read up on all the GG finalists here. For each category, a jury, comprised of fellow authors, translators and illustrators, makes the final selection. Each GG winner receives $25,000 and a specially-bound copy of their winning book. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to help promote the book. The total annual value of the GGs is close to $450,000.
National Magazine Award-winning writer Richard Wagamese, a member of the Ojibway Wabasseemoong First Nation of northern Ontario and author of 13 books, has won the inaugural Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, presented by the non-profit CODE and the Canada Council for the Arts.
He won for his latest novel, Indian Horse (Douglas & McIntyre), a story about the journey Saul Indian Horse, a northern Ontario Ojibway man, takes back through his life, as he is dying. The runners up were novels by Tara Lee Morin and James Bartleman.
Richard Wagamese was a National Magazine Award winner in 2010 for his story “Walking by the Crooked Water,” part of an Editorial Package called “Border Lines” published by Canadian Geographic magazine.
The Burt Award’s book purchase and distribution program will ensure that a minimum of 2,500 copies of each of the three winning titles will be delivered to First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth across Canada through community libraries, schools, Friendship Centres and summer literacy camps.
The Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was established by CODE – a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning in Canada and around the world for over 50 years – in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award is the result of a close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, Frontier College, GoodMinds, the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council for the Arts. Read more.
National Magazine Award winner Carol Shaben, whose recent book Into the Abyss began as an award-winning story in The Walrus, will speak at two public events this Wednesday, November 13, at Wilfrid Laurier University, and will receive the 2013 Edna Staebler Prize which was announced earlier this year.
First, an interview with Ms. Shaben, conducted by Bruce Gillespie, assistant professor of Journalism, will take place on Laurier’s Brantford campus from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in RCW203. Then, the presentation of the Edna Staebler award will take place on Laurier’s Waterloo campus, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Senate and Board Chamber.
Carol Shaben is a freelance writer who lives in Vancouver with her husband and son. In 2005 she left a business career to focus on her long-time passion for writing, and in 2009 she was nominated for three National Magazine Awards, winning two: a Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting and a Silver Medal for Politics and Public Interest. Into the Abyss is her first book. She was also a finalist for Best New Magazine Writer of 2009.