Wednesday, 13 November 2013

And the GG goes to … huh?

I've been reading my way, very pleasurably, through Eleanor Catton's new book The Luminaries and now I see that she has just won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. (see the details on all winners here). The book is wonderful so far, and Catton's interview on The Sunday Edition on the weekend, showed her to be thoughtful, with a graceful, inventive speaking style. But to call her Canadian is…well… a stretch. She was Canadian born and then moved to New Zealand at a very young age. Her accent is Kiwi, the book itself draws on Kiwi history. This is a trend in the literary awards if late - going off in search of make-believe Canadians.

It's also, of course, happening in Canadian academia as I wrote about earlier: who needs anything Canadian when we have The World??

There were a couple of historical links to the GGs:

The non-fiction award went to Sandra Djwa for her biography of the poet P K Page. I haven't yet read this book, but Djwa's biography of the lawyer, poet and intellectual F R Scott is fantastic.

And then the children's illustration award Matt James for his book Northwest Passage which illustrates the Stan Rogers song of the same name.

UPDATE 14 November

Writing the above spurred me on to write even more and the good folks at the Ottawa Citizen published  the extended version of my critique of the GG Awards Committee's decision to give the fiction prize to Eleanor Catton this year. As I hinted at above, I think this about more than just this prize and this author.

You can see the full op-ed on the Citizen's page here.  (and buy a paper if you are in Ottawa!)

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