OTTAWA — British-Canadian author Rachel Cusk is among five boundary-pushing writers in the running for the Governor General's fiction prize.
The Saskatoon-born, London-based wordsmith is vying for the $25,000 honour with her cottage-set psychodrama, "A Second Place." The novel, published by HarperCollins Canada, was also longlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize.
Her competition includes Hamilton-based cartoonist Joe Ollmann with "Fictional Father," published by Drawn & Quarterly, a graphic novel that pulls from the comic strip canon to explore a father-son relationship.
Also in the running is Toronto-based Sheung-King for "You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked.,” from Book*hug Press. The Vancouver-born, Hong Kong-raised author's debut, which was nominated for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, follows a young translator travelling the world with his unnamed lover.
Norma Dunning of Edmonton received a nod for "Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories," from Douglas & McIntyre, a book of short stories centring on modern-day Inuk characters.
Rounding out the fiction short list is G.A. Grisenthwaite, a member of the Lytton First Nation, with "Home Waltz," from Palimpsest Press, a coming-of-age story about a mixed-blood Nłeʔkepmx boy trying to find his way in a small, mostly Indigenous town.
The books were among 70 titles nominated for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Awards, which are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, on Thursday.
The awards recognize literary achievement across seven categories in both English and French. The 14 winners, who each receive $25,000, will be announced on Nov. 17.
For English-language writing, the non-fiction nominees are: Larry Audlaluk of Grise Fiord, Nunavut, for "What I Remember, What I Know: The Life Of A High Arctic Exile," from Inhabit Media; Sadiqa de Meijer of Kingston, Ont., for "alfabet/ alphabet: a memoir of a first language," from Anstruther Books; Ivan Coyote of London, Ont., for "Care Of: Letters, Connections, And Cures," from McClelland & Stewart; and J.B. MacKinnon of Vancouver for "The Day the World Stops Shopping," from by Random House Canada.
The poetry finalists are: Stephen Collis of Delta, B.C., for "A History of the Theories of Rain," from Talonbooks; Hoa Nguyen of Toronto for "A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure," published by Wave Books; Rebecca Salazar of Fredericton for "Sulphurtongue," from McClelland & Stewart; Tolu Oloruntoba of Surrey, B.C., for "The Junta of Happenstance," from Anstruther Books; and Roxanna Bennett of Whitby, Ont., for "The Untranslatable I," from Gordon Hill Press.
The drama contenders are: Paul David Power of St. John's, N.L., for "Crippled," from Breakwater Books; Christine Quintana of Vancouver for "Selfie," from Playwrights Canada Press; Hannah Moscovitch of Halifax for "Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes," from Playwrights Canada Press; Jivesh Parasram of Vancouver for "Take d Milk, Nah?," from Playwrights Canada Press; and Falen Johnson of Montreal for "Two Indians," from Scirocco Drama.
Honours will also be doled out for writing and illustration in children's literature, as well as French-to-English translation. There are separate French-language categories for francophone writing.
The awards hand out a total annual prize value of $450,000.
Each winner receives $25,000, while the publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Finalists each receive $1,000.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2021.
The Canadian Press