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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Kim Senklip Harvey


We continue our Governor General’s Literature Awards coverage in conversation with Kim Senklip Harvey, whose work Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story (Talonbooks) won in the category of drama.

According to the Peer Assessment Committee, “The brilliance, the irreverence, the fire of Kamloopa sweeps us into the world of three Indigenous women on a mind-bending quest. The audience is seduced by the love, humour and depth of these matriarchs as they embrace and celebrate who they are in the world and with each other. A play that will encourage you to re-evaluate your relationship with Canada.”

Kim Senklip Harvey is a proud Syilx and Tsilhqot’in and an Indigenous theorist, a cultural evolutionist and an award-winning writer and director whose work focuses on igniting Indigenous power by creating comedic and joy-centred narratives that nourish her people’s spirits. She is currently working on the development of two television series: her Salish love story, On the Plateau, and the adaptation of her play, Kamloopa. She is also completing her first prose and poetry book, Interiors: A Collection of NDN Dirtbag Love Stories, and is in pre-production to film a musical feature of her next artistic ceremony, Break Horizons: A Rocking Indigenous Justice Ceremony. S …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Lazer Lederhendler

Lazer_Lederhendler cr Monique Dykstra Jan 15 2019

Next up in our special 2020 GG Awards coverage is our conversation with Lazer Lederhendler, who won his third Governor General’s Award for his English translation of Pascale Quiviger’s If You Hear Me (Biblioasis), originally written in French. Scroll down to read an excerpt from the book!

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN and also check out our chats with other GG's winners The Fan Brothers, Madhur Anand, and Michelle Good!

According to the Peer Assessment Committee, "Lazer Lederhendler has presented challenging subject matter with sensitivity, nuance, and elegance. His language is powerful yet limpid, understated yet heartbreaking, and lightly humorous. He delicately navigates complex layers of trauma in the immigrant and the patient, lingering between life and death, dream and reality. The finely drawn characters in this novel wait, as we all do, for release."

Lazer Lederhendler is a full-time literary translator specializing in Québécois fiction and non-fiction. He holds a Master of Arts degree in creative writing from Concordia University. His translations have earned awards and distinctions in Canada, the UK, and the US, including three Quebec Writer’s Federation Awards (The Immaculate Conception, Nikolski, Apocalypse for Beginners) and two previous Governor Ge …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers


We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the acclaimed Fan Brothers (Terry Fan, Eric Fan, Devin Fan), co-winners of the 2020 GG's Award for Young People’s Literature (Illustration) for The Barnabus Project (Tundra). The 2020 GG Award Peer Assessment Committee says The Barnabus Project is,

“A twisty-turny adventure story that travels from the deep underground to the starry skies, featuring a gang of friends, aka ‘Failed Projects,’ who show the power of solidarity and non-conformity. This sweet and surreal ode to sticking together radically breaks from typical storylines to deliver a manifesto for mass escape from any system that demands perfection, sameness and compliance. Stunningly and intricately illustrated, this book pays cinematic attention to pacing and detail. Like Barnabus, the Fan Brothers have broken the mold.” 

Terry, Eric, and Devin grew up in Toronto, where they continue to live and work.

 Recipients of the prestigious Sendak Fellowship, Kate Greenaway Medal nominees, and Governor General’s Literary Award nominees, Terry and Eric are the author/illustrators of the critically acclaimed books The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky, and the illustrators of the best …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good


Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) with an interview with Michelle Good, whose Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins) won the fiction prize.

Enter for a chance to win Five Little Indians as well and don't miss the excerpt at the end of this post!

“Intimate and ambitious, Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians is a heart-breaking account of lives shaped and destroyed by the residential school system. Here is powerful testimony, expertly crafted and wisely observed, tragic yet full of redemptive moments. An unflinching, compassionate and moving novel about the struggle to live and love in the wake of deep trauma.”—2020 Governor General’s Award Peer Assessment Committee

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years, she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. Good earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practising law and managing her own law firm. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Cana …

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The Chat With Governor General's Award Winner Steven Heighton

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Our next chat in this year’s Governor General’s Awards special is with Steven Heighton, who won his first GG Award for his poetry collection The Waking Comes Late.

According to the jury, “Steven Heighton’s The Waking Comes Late is a journey deepening as we read. He locates the complexities of the personal in a wide range of social issues, while playing masterfully with language, form and tone. His stunning political poems never descend to pedantry or the prosaic. A mature work: smart, moving, inventive, original.” 

Steven Heighton’s most recent books are The Waking Comes Late and the Trillium Award finalist The Dead Are More Visible (stories). His novel Afterlands has appeared in six countries, was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, and was cited on best of year lists in ten publications in Canada, the US, and the UK. The novel is now in pre-production for film. His short fiction and poetry have received four gold National Magazine Awards and have appeared in London Review of Books, Best English Stories, Poetry, Best American Poetry, Tin House, TLR, Agni, Best American Mystery Stories, London Magazine, Zoetrope, Poetry London, and five editions of Best Canadian Stories. Heighton has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and Brit …

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews 2016 Governor General's Award Winner Bill Waiser


We start our special coverage of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners with a conversation with Bill Waiser, author of A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905.

Of the book, the Governor General’s Award jury says, “From its first page, Bill Waiser’s A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905 surprises the reader with its reconsideration of Canada. In a sweeping blend of narrative, historical detail, and compelling images, Waiser refocuses the country’s story by putting Indigenous peoples and environmental concerns in the foreground.” 

Author and historian Bill Waiser specializes in western Canadian history. He has published over a dozen books—many of them recognized by various awards, including a shortlist nomination for the 1997 Governor General’s literary award for non-fiction. Bill is
 a frequent public speaker and contributor to radio, television, and print media. He has also served on a number of national, provincial, and local boards. Bill has been awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, named a distinguished university professor, and granted a D.Litt.


How did your Governor General Award-winning book come into being?

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The Chat, with GGs Winners Sydney Smith and JonArno Lawson

In our final interview of the Governor General’s special edition of The Chat, we speak to JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith, joint winners of the 2015 English-language Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature (Illustrated), for Sidewalk Flowers.


JonArno Lawson is the author of several award-winning books of poetry for children and adults, and is a four-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. He has been most inspired in his work by his own children, and received a Chalmers Fellowship Award in 2007 to research children’s lap and bouncing rhymes cross-culturally in different communities across Toronto. Born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised nearby in Dundas, JonArno Lawson now lives in Toronto.

Sydney Smith. Photo Credit- D. Edwards

Sydney Smith discovered his love of children’s illustration while studying drawing and printmaking at NSCAD University in Halifax. Some of his first experiences illustrating children’s books were for the new editions of Sheree Fitch’s older books (Mabel Murple, There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, and …

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The Chat, With 2015 GGs Winner Rhonda Mullins (Translation)

In our continuing conversation with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners, today I speak to Rhonda Mullins, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Translation for Twenty-One Cardinals (Les héritiers de la mine) by Jocelyne Saucier.

Rhonda Mullins is a translator whose work has been shortlisted for previous Governor General’s Awards, including her translations of Élise Turcotte’s Guyana (2014), Hervé Fischer’s The Decline of the Hollywood Empire (2007), and Saucier’s And the Birds Rained Down (2013), which was also a CBC Canada Reads selection in 2015. Rhonda Mullins studied and has taught translation at McGill University in Montréal, where she currently lives.

Of Twenty-One Cardinals, Publishers Weekly said: “This slim, tightly written novel masterfully tells a big story, flush in dark secrets, social commentary and an army of memorable characters.”





You’ve been a previous finalist for the Governor General’s Award. What was your first reaction to finding out you’d w …

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The Chat, With 2015 GGs Winner Caroline Pignat (Children's Text)

Next up in our series of interviews with the winners of this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award is Caroline Pignat, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature.

Caroline Pignat wins her second Governor General’s Literary Award with The Gospel Truth (2015), the young adult novel that also won her the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year Honour Book. Other award-winning books include Egghead (Red Maple Book Award, 2009) and Greener Grass (GG Award, 2009).

This year’s jury called The Gospel Truth “the powerful and poignant story of 16-year-old Phoebe, a slave girl in 1858 Virginia. Written in lyrical and elegant free verse, it is an unflinching look at the brutality of slavery and Phoebe’s struggle for freedom and truth. Ultimately, this is a story of hope.”




Sometimes when we think back to the nineteenth century and slave ownership, we tend to lump the experiences of slaves together and contain them in one thought bubble: “They suffered, they sang songs to keep them going, they hatched plans to escape.” The Gospel Truth veers away from this simplification. Why was this important to you in writing the book?

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The Chat, With GGs Drama Award Winner David Yee

Next up on our special Governor General’s special edition of The Chat, I speak to David Yee, winner of the 2015 English-language Governor General’s Award for Drama for carried away on the crest of a wave.

David Yee is a Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated actor and playwright, former playwright-in-residence at the Tarragon Theatre and Factory Theatre and currently serves as Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company. His other plays include lady in the red dress and paper SERIES, and his work has been published in the Asian Canadian drama anthology Love & Relasianships (edited by Nina Lee Aquino) and the monologue book Refractions: Solo (edited by Yvette Nolan & Donna Michelle St. Bernard). David Yee, who proudly identifies himself as a Hapa of Scottish and Chinese descent, was born and raised in Toronto.

Writing for Now magazine, Jon Kaplan said of carried away on the crest of a wave: “The script is rich with poignancy, tragedy and humour…Yee’s clever, insightful writing rarely fails to draw a response, whether he’s using his trademark off-centre laughs or a solemn moment to make a point.”




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The Chat, With GGs Fiction Award Winner Guy Vanderhaeghe

Today on The Chat, we continue our conversation with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners. I’m pleased to speak to Guy Vanderhaeghe, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Fiction for his collection Daddy Lenin and Other Stories (McClelland & Stewart).

Guy Vanderhaeghe has published five novels, four short story collections and two plays, including The Last Crossing (winner, 2004 CBC Canada Reads), The Englishman’s Boy (GG Award, shortlisted for both the Giller Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award1996), and Man Descending (GG Award, 1982). He is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

Dory Cerny, writing in Quill and Quire, had this so say about Daddy Lenin and Other Stories:

“These are stories about boys becoming men, about screwing up and starting over, about looking back and moving forward, and – above all – about what it means to be a man. There are no sensitive, metrosexual, kowtowing guys in these stories, though they all have crosses to bear and, often, painful histories. These are complex characters who embody a particular literary strain of working-class, straight-talking, hard-drinking male, even when only the last qualifier applies.”

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The Chat: Trevor Corkum Interviews 2015 GGs Winner Mark L. Winston

Today on The Chat, we continue our special interview series with this year’s English-language Governor General’s award winners. I’m pleased to speak to Mark L. Winston, winner of the 2015 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction for his book Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, published by Harvard University Press.

Recognized as one of the world’s leading expert on bees and pollination, Mark L. Winston has had an illustrious career researching, teaching, writing and commenting on bees and agriculture, environmental issues and science policy. A widely respected educator, he directed Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue for 12 years and has shared his expertise in columns in the Vancouver Sun, New York Times, The Sciences, Orion, and in radio and TV for the CBC and the U.S. National Public Radio. He’s the author of six books on subjects related to bees.

In Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, said the jury, “Mark L. Winston distills a life’s devotion to the study of bees into a powerful and lyrical meditation on humanity. This compelling book inspires us to reevaluate our own relationships both with each other and the natural world. Vital reading for our time.”




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