Friday, November 10, 2023

Prize Watch: The GGs and the Cundill

The Governor-General's Literary Awards winners were announced the other night. For Nonfiction in English, the winner was Kyo Maclear for Unearthing, a family memoir/investigation. Maclear's earlier book, Birds Art Life, was also widely praised a few years ago.

It will be said that the winner and all the finalists are memoirs (again), and it's not impossible questions will be raised (again) about blinkers on what the Canada Council considers literary nonfiction.

Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey With a Scar(f) by Monia Mazigh )Mawenzi House Publishers);
Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery by Harrison Mooney (HarperCollins Canada);
Message in a Bottle: Ocean Dispatches from a Seabird Biologist by Holly Hogan (Knopf Canada);  
Unbroken by Angela Sterritt (Greystone Books);
Unearthing by Kyo Maclear (Knopf Canada).

And they are. But the list also suggest even for books on political, scientific, historical, and other large topics, literary times and trends encourage books with a substantial personal engagement by and about the author. 

Meanwhile, the Cundill Prize in History also announced its 2023 winner: Red Memory: Living Remembering and Forgetting China's Cultural Revolution by Tania Branigan.  My review of the finalists will be in the Literary Review of Canada soon, so I won't say more, except that this year's jury has interesting views on what a history book is or should be.  


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