Let the debate begin: Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlist announced

The CanLit world is almost off to the races, with two and a half (so to speak) groups of nominees for the nations major fiction prizes in. Joining the Giller long list and the Rogers/Writers’ Trust shortlist today is the shortlist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards.

And the usual “How do juries see things so differently?” conversation has already begun. Colin McAdam, who didn’t make even the Giller long list—13 books that will yield the shortlist of five on Oct. 8—is on both the GG and RWT shortlists for A Beautiful Truth; Eleanor Catton, a Canadian-born New Zealander and a hot favourite for the prestigious Man Booker Prize with The Luminaries, makes a single Canadian appearance, among the GG nominees; and Joseph Boyden, universally expected—although, who can read the collective mind of a jury?—to move from the Giller long list to its finalists with his hugely popular The Orenda, also made it on to the GGs, while apparently not interesting RWT jurors.

More intriguing, is the way the RWT shortlist was dominated by independent publishers, particularly the House of Anansi with its three titles, while this year’s jury for the Governor General’s award, a prize long thought to be systemically slanted in the small and regional direction, opted for books exclusively published by the Toronto-based, foreign-owned majors: three from the Random House conglomerate and two Hamish Hamiltons (Penguin).

Here are the Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlist nominees:

  • Kenneth Bonert (Toronto), The Lion Seeker (Random House of Canada – Knopf)
  • Joseph Boyden (New Orleans, La.), The Orenda (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
  • Eleanor Catton (Iowa City, Iowa), The Luminaries (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Colin McAdam (Toronto), A Beautiful Truth (Hamish Hamilton Canada)
  • Shyam Selvadurai (Toronto), The Hungry Ghosts (Doubleday Canada)

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