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

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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

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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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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

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Next on our special Giller Prize coverage of The Chat, we speak with Gil Adamson. She’s a finalist for her second novel, Ridgerunner.

Jury citation:

“The long-awaited sequel to Gil Adamson’s hit The Outlander moves the action forward a decade, returning the 13-year-old son of the original protagonists to a forested land into which prisoners of the first world war are now hewing roads. The proximity of this new type of outlaw presents an existential threat to young Jack, who takes refuge in his parents’ abandoned shack with a price on his head after escaping the toxic hypocrisies of ‘civilization.’ Drawing richly on both the Western and on gothic fiction, Adamson evokes a mythic landscape to frame the question: how is it possible to live a good life, when obedience to man-made laws is so at odds with love, loyalty and respect for the natural world?”

Gil Adamson is the critically acclaimed author of The Outlander, which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the ReLit Award, and the Drummer General’s Award. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, CBC Canada Reads, and the Prix Femina in France; longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and chosen as …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Amanda Parris

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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 …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Joan Thomas

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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.

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THE CHAT WITH JOAN THOMAS

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Don Gillmor

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The winner of the 2019 Governor General’s Award for Nonfiction is Don Gillmor for his memoir To The River: Losing My Brother.

The jury says, “In clear, crisp prose, Gillmor has written a book that is searingly honest and heartbreakingly sad. From the story of his brother’s life and death to a larger exploration of white, middle-aged masculinity, Gillmor impresses us with his quiet insights. At one point, he asks, 'What are we anchored by?' His hard-earned wisdom holds us, here and beyond.”

Don Gillmor is one of Canada's most accomplished writers. He is the author of the bestselling, award-winning, two-volume Canada: A People’s History, and his journalism on suicide has earned him both a National Newspaper Award and a National Magazine Award. Gillmor’s other books include the novels Kanata, Mount Pleasant, and Long Change, all of which were published to critical acclaim, and nine children’s books, two of which were finalists for a Governor General’s Literary Award. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and two children.

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THE CHAT WITH DON GILLMOR

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Gwen Benaway

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Next up in our special 2019 Governor General’s Award edition of The Chat is our conversation with Gwen Benaway. Her collection Holy Wild won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

Ed note: This post has been updated in light of an investigation into Gwen Benaway's claims of Indigenous identity. Benaway has not, at the time of this writing, responded to evidence that she has misrepresented her status. We have removed all references to that claimed identity so that it does not continue to occupy space in Indigenous literature.

Gwen Benaway is the author of previous poetry collections Ceremonies for the Dead and Passage. Holy Wild was also named a finalist for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, and the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature, and longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Benaway is also the editor of an anthology of fantasy short stories titled Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. She has been a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers from the Writers' Trust of Canada, and her personal essay, "A Body Like A Home," was the Gold Prize Winner for the National Magazine Awards in Personal Journalism. day/break, her fourth book of …

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The Chat with Michael Crummey

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Michael Crummey was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Innocents, a haunting story of two siblings orphaned in a remote cove in Newfoundland.

Kirkus Reviews calls The Innocents “An unusual, gripping period novel from a much-honored Canadian writer.” The Toronto Star says, “its beauty is restrained, weighted and often heartbreaking.”

Michael Crummey is the author of a memoir, Newfoundland: Journey into a Lost Nation; three books of poetry including Arguments with Gravity, winner of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Poetry; and a book of short stories, Flesh & Blood. His first novel, River Thieves was a finalist for the 2001 Scotiabank Giller Prize; and his second novel, The Wreckage, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His most recent novel, Sweetland, was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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THE CHAT WITH MICHAEL CRUMMEY

Trevor Corkum: The Innocents is a dark and richly imagined story of a brother and sister living alone in a secluded cove in historical Newfoun …

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The Buzz: 5 New Books with Great Reviews

Part of the excitement of a new literary season is watching certain books build momentum because of great reviews and blurbs. Here are five of those very books.

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NIGHT OF POWER, BY ANAR ALI

The Buzz:

"An especially important and accomplished story...elegant, complex, but propulsive and strongly cinematic."
—David Chariandy, author of Brother

“Anar Ali’s Night of Power is a searing and beautiful novel. With perfect pitch, the story glides between the perspectives of father, mother, and son. It is an honest and utterly engaging meditation about love and loss, tenderness and violence, adaptability and delusion, dislocation and rebirth.” 
—Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal

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THE RED CHESTERFIELD, BY WAYNE ARTHURSON

The Buzz:

"The mark of any great story is when the reader never wants it to end. Wayne Arthurson's The Red Chesterfield pulled me into an alluring world of magic and mystery, a slow tease of crisp, compelling writing. A ten!
" —Award-winning mystery writer Peggy Blair (who pens the Inspector Ramirez serie …

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The Chat with Patrick DeWitt

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This week we’re in conversation with Patrick DeWitt. His latest novel, French Exit, tells the story of Frances Price, widower and “Upper East Side force of nature,” her layabout son Malcolm, and their ageing cat Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband.

Quill & Quire says “DeWitt’s absolute mastery over this approach is a thing of beauty: every nuance, scene, character, and snippet of dialogue is pitch perfect.” The New Yorker, meanwhile, calls DeWitt “a stealth absurdist, with a flair for dressing up rhyme as reason.” 

Patrick DeWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novelsUndermajordomo Minor, Ablutions, and The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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THE CHAT WITH PATRICK DEWITT

Trevor Corkum: French Exit is called a “tragedy …

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