Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Prize watch: the GGs

Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada

Prizes thick and fast this season. The Governor General's Literary Awards came out this morning. Congratulations to all the winners (hell, nominees too), but not much history contending this year. I note that this year's nonfiction winner, Michael Harris's The End of Absence, and the most "historical" of the shortlisted titles, Edward Metatawabin's residential schools memoir Up Ghost River, are reviewed in this month's Literary Review of Canada, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and good thing, because neither of these reviews are offered online.

The winning book seems to be kind of an internet apocalypse book, but stylish and funny. You might recognize this feeling it describes (from a National Post review):
“Thoreau was right,” writes Michael Harris in The End of Absence, the newest meditation on the digital age. “Whenever I am frustrated, miserable, thwarted, I’ll open my in-box twice as often.” Harris, of course, is responding to a line from Walden, Henry David Thoreau’s most famous work: “In proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post-office.”
Laureate Michael Harris seems not to be the Michael Harris whose Stephen Harper apocalypse book, Party of One, is hot right now.
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