This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.
The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
A middle-grade novel about a young violinist from Toronto who discovers that her family secretly harbours a sanctuary for extinct Tasmanian tigers in the remote Australian rainforest.
Describe your ideal reader.
Budding activists who love nature and wildlife.
What authors/books is your work in conversation w …
Erin Bow has won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature (Text) for Stand on the Sky (Scholastic).
The jury says “In writing that is both evocative and perfectly pitched for young readers, Stand on the Sky tells the heartfelt and gripping tale of a Kazakh girl who, despite cultural barriers, struggles to train a wild eagle. With its authentic voice, the novel transports the reader to the steppes of Mongolia and opens up a fascinating world where age-old tradition is overturned by one young girl’s bravery and determination.”
Erin Bow is a former physicist turned poet and writer of stories for young people. Her first novel, Plain Kate, won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Her second, Sorrow’s Knot, won the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and her third, The Scorpion Rules, won her a second Monica Hughes Award and was the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for young adults. Erin publishes equally lauded poetry under her maiden name, Erin Noteboom. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with author James Bow and their two tween-aged daughters.
Congrats on your GG Award, Erin. How does it feel to be recognized in this way by your peers?
I’m so thrilled. Stand on the …
Renowned CBC radio host Amanda Parris is this year’s Governor General’s Award winner for Drama for Other Side of the Game (Playwrights Canada Press).
The jury praised the work, saying, “Other Side of the Game courageously examines the struggles of young Black women and their loved ones as they navigate an unjust system. Parris crafts a portrait of the early years of Black activism, and parallels it with the present day. Enraging and engaging, this gripping and passionate play challenges dominant narratives to reveal the painful truths of life for marginalized Canadians in our society.”
By day, Amanda Parris is a television and radio host and writes a weekly column. By night, she writes stories for the stage and screen. Other Side of the Game is her first published play. In Amanda’s past lives she was an educator who wrote arts-based curricula, attended numerous acting auditions and dreamed of opening a school that Blue Ivy Carter would attend. Over the course of her career, Amanda has worn a variety of hats, working as an educator, a researcher, an actor and a community organizer.
She is the co-founder of the award-winning alternative education organization Lost Lyrics and worked with the Remix Project and the Manifesto Festival. She has spoken about he …
Joan Thomas has won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Fiction for her novel Five Wives.
According to the jury, “In Five Wives, Thomas delivers a compelling and powerful story about an encounter that alters the lives of those involved for generations. Set in a world where Indigenous peoples, missionaries, and the forces of global capitalism collide, Thomas’s tale provides a nuanced examination of Operation Auca—a historical event that took place in Ecuador in 1956. This book raises important questions about religious fervour, autonomy and legacies of violence. Ambitiously conceived and beautifully written, this book is a masterful achievement.”
Joan Thomas is the author of four novels: Five Wives, The Opening Sky, Curiosity, and Reading by Lightning. Her work has won the Amazon First Novel Award, a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the McNally Robinson Prize. Additionally, it has been nominated for the Giller Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a previous Governor General’s Literary Award. In 2014, Thomas was the recipient of the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Prize for a writer in mid-career. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The vibrant picture book Africville was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People. It tells the story of Africville through the eyes of a young girl. This week we’re in conversation with the book’s creators, author Shauntay Grant and illustrator Eva Campbell.
In a starred review, Quill & Quire says, "Shauntay Grant’s writing is graceful ... She reaches out to young readers and invites them in ... Visually, Africville is gorgeous. Eva Campbell’s illustrations are arresting; the colours are warm and inviting, and her painterly style enhances the dreamlike quality of the story."
Eva Campbell is an artist and illustrator who teaches visual art at Lester B. Pearson College UWC. She has exhibited her work in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Barbados, and Ghana. Eva won the Children’s Africana Book Award for her illustrations in The Matatuby by Eric Walters. She lives in Victoria.
Shauntay Grant is a descendant of Black Loyalists, Jamaican Maroons and Black Refugees who migrated to Canada some t …
Ever wonder about the life of a young Victorian chimney sweep? Jonathan Auxier is winner of this year’s Governor General’s Award for Literature for Young People (Text), for his enchanting novel Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.
The peer assessment committee says “A tender story of what makes us human, Sweep doesn’t shy away from the risks of love and monstrousness of indifference. With an impeccable narrative, Sweep shows how love can breathe life into darkness and how hope can spark change. Auxier weaves a multi-layered masterpiece with endearing characters and gut-wrenching twists that are certain to instill readers with a sense of wonder and discovery for the miracle of storytelling."
Jonathan Auxier writes strange stories for strange children. His debut novel, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes was a Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award Honour Book, and was also shortlisted for both the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Diamond Willow Award. His New York Times Best Seller The Night Gardener was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award, as well as winner of the Silver Birch Award, Monica Hughes Award, the TD Bank Children’s Literature Award, and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award. …
Jordan Tannahill is no stranger to the Governor General’s Awards. Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom marks his second GG's win in the drama category.
The peer assessment committee says, “Jordan Tannahill’s two-play volume explores the fragility of social consensus in a world made uneasy by the forces of social division. Both plays are poetic, irreverent and funny, offering the pleasure of entertainment while displaying masterful literary ability. Tannahill possesses a powerful artistic voice that reflects where we come from, who we are and who we may become."
Jordan Tannahill is a playwright, author, and filmmaker. Jordan’s plays have been translated into multiple languages and honoured with various prizes, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the John Hirsch Prize, and multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards. In the last year, Jordan’s play Late Company transferred to London’s West End; his virtual-reality piece Draw Me Close premiered at the Venice Biennale; his debut novel Liminal was published by House of Anansi; he premiered his play Declarations at Canadian Stage; and he collaborated with Akram Khan on Xenos, currently touring internationally. Visit www.jordantannahill.com.
THE CHAT WITH JORDAN TANNAHILL
We continue our special Governor General’s Award coverage in conversation with Graeme Wood. His book The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State is this year’s Governor General's Award winner for English-language nonfiction.
From the jury: "The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State by Graeme Wood investigates a much discussed, little understood phenomenon dominating international news. Meticulously researched and fluidly written, this bracing book delves into a contentious facet of contemporary geopolitics."
Graeme Wood is a Canadian journalist, currently working as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has written for The New Republic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg Businessweek, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He was the 2014–2015 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he teaches in the political science department at Yale University.
As we wrap up our special coverage of the 2016 Governor General's Awards for Literature, we are pleased to be in conversation with noted young adult author Martine Leavitt. Martine is this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Text) for her book Calvin.
“In Martine Leavitt’s Calvin,” writes the jury, “A boy newly diagnosed with schizophrenia makes a pilgrimage across a frozen Lake Erie. Told in spare, beautiful prose, this transcendent exploration of reality and truth is funny, frightening and affirming. Calvin is an astonishing achievement.”
Martine Leavitt is the author of ten novels for young readers. My Book of Life by Angel, which received five starred reviews, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year. Other titles include Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the National Book Award; Tom Finder, winner of the Mr. Christie's Book Award; and Heck Superhero, finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her novels have been published in Japan, Korea, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. Martine teaches creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
How was Calvin born?
The next chat with this year’s English-language Governor General’s Award winners is a conversation with Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. Jon-Erik and Kellen won this year’s award for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Books) for their book Tokyo Digs a Garden.
“Tokyo Digs a Garden marries text and illustration in a richly ornamented dream landscape that simultaneously suggests a digital and an organic world,” states the jury. “Kellen Hatanaka’s illustrations are inventive and groundbreaking and the hypnotic text by Jon-Erik Lappano conveys its message in a darkly humourous and elegant manner. A book for any age.”
Jon-Erik Lappano is an environmental educator, storyteller, and creative producer with curiosity and love of all things wild. He lives in Guelph, Canada, with his young and growing family. This is his first book.
Kellen Hatanaka is a designer and illustrator who lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Kiersten. He is also the author and illustrator of Work: An Occupational ABC and Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites …
We continue our conversation with this year’s English-language Governor General’s award winners with our chat with Lazer Lederhendler. Lazer won his second Governor General’s Award for his translation of Catherine Leroux’s novel The Party Wall.
“In The Party Wall, his masterly translation of Catherine Leroux’s Le mur mitoyen,” writes the jury, “Lazer Lederhendler deftly captures the spirit, meaning, and emotional punch of the French text. Writing with grace and imagination, he creates a compelling work of art while serving and respecting the original.”
Lazer Lederhendler is a full-time translator based in Montreal and specializing in contemporary Québécois fiction and nonfiction. His translations have earned him many distinctions including the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Cole Prize for Translation of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. His work has helped acquaint English-language readers with a new cohort of talented, innovative writers, such as Nicholas Dickner, Alain Farah, Perrine Leblanc, and Catherine Leroux.
The thing I love about independent bookstores is how much is missing. They don’t have room for stacks and stacks of the latest iteration of The Lovely Bones. (Is there anything as disheartening as seeing the name Sebold beside the name Sebald on the shelves of a bookstore? Of course, peopled always have to get past Dobozy to get to Doctorow, so maybe I shouldn’t talk.) What they do have room for, just barely, is the distillation of a certain taste in reading, a canon of novels and poems and plays and essays peculiar to whoever runs the store, whatever he or she thinks is a worthwhile continuum of titles and authors and subjects. I’ve always loved that, in whatever city or town I am, coming upon an independent bookstore (and there are less of them than ever) and being treated to someone else’s mind, to a series of books more often based on quality and sensibility, rather than the quantity-driven ethos (by which I mean whatever deals have been made with various publishers as to how many books will be ordered, where they’ll be placed in the store, how long marketing demographics have determined they should stay on the shelves) that you get in the big chains, whose similarity from city to city, even country to country, manages to be bewildering and depressi …