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Governor General's Literary Award Finalists Revealed, with Nods for Suzette Mayr, Iain Reid, and More

Graphic banner image with text reading Discover the 2023 GGBooks finalists

Today the Canada Council for the Arts revealed the nominees for the Governor General's Literary Awards in both English and French. The seven categories for English nominees include 35 books, five in each genre. One of the oldest and largest literary awards suites in the country, the Governor General's Literary Awards, now branded as GGBooks, were created in 1936. Past winners include CanLit titans like Hugh MacLennan, Gabrielle Roy, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, Robertson Davies, Marian Engel, Timothy Findley, and Margaret Atwood, as well as contemporary favourites like Rohinton Mistry, Miriam Toews, Michelle Good, and Sheila Heti. 

English-language finalists for 2023 (seven categories)


  • A History of Burning – Janika Oza (Toronto, Ontario) McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Chrysalis – Anuja Varghese (Hamilton, Ontario) House of Anansi Press
  • In the Upper Country – Kai Thomas (Petersburgh, USA) Viking, Penguin Random House Canada
  • The Sleeping Car Porter – Suzette Mayr (Calgary, Alberta) Coach House Books
  • We Spread – Iain Reid (Kingston, Ontario) Scribner, Simon & Schuster Canada


  • Baby Book – Amy Ching-Yan Lam (Toronto, Ontario) Brick Books
  • Exculpatory Lilies – Susan Musgrave (Masset, British Columbia) McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Old Gods – Conor Kerr (Edmonton, Alberta) Nightwood Editions
  • The Ridge – Robert Bringhurst (Heriot Bay, British Columbia) Harbour Publishing
  • Xanax Cowboy – Hannah Green (Winnipeg, Manitoba) House of Anansi Press


  • Forgiveness – Hiro Kanagawa (Port Moody, British Columbia) Playwrights Canada Press
  • Is My Microphone On? – Jordan Tannahill (London, United Kingdom) Playwrights Canada Press
  • The Enchanted Loom – Suvendrini Lena (Toronto, Ontario) Playwrights Canada Press
  • The War Being Waged – Darla Contois (Winnipeg, Manitoba) Scirocco Drama, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
  • William Shakespeareʼs As You Like It: A Radical Retelling – Cliff Cardinal (Toronto, Ontario) Playwrights Canada Press


  • Gendered Islamophobia: My Journey With a Scar(f) – Monia Mazigh (Ottawa, Ontario) Mawenzi House Publishers
  • Invisible Boy: A Memoir of Self-Discovery – Harrison Mooney (Vancouver, British Columbia) HarperCollins Canada
  • Message in a Bottle: Ocean Dispatches from a Seabird Biologist – Holly Hogan (St. Johnʼs, Newfoundland and Labrador) Knopf, Penguin Random House Canada
  • Unbroken – Angela Sterritt (British Columbia) Greystone Books
  • Unearthing – Kyo Maclear (Toronto, Ontario) Knopf, Penguin Random House Canada

Young People’s Literature – Text

  • As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow – Zoulfa Katouh (Zurich, Switzerland) Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hachette Book Group
  • Berani – Michelle Kadarusman (Toronto, Ontario) Pajama Press
  • Fire on Headless Mountain – Iain Lawrence (Gabriola Island, British Columbia) Margaret Ferguson Books, Penguin Random House Canada
  • The Probability of Everything – Sarah Everett (Edmonton, Alberta) Clarion Books, HarperCollins
  • Weird Rules to Follow – Kim Spencer (British Columbia) Orca Book Publishers

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books

  • Boobies – Nancy Vo (British Columbia) Groundwood Books
  • Mr. S – Monica Arnaldo (Sainte-Julie, Quebec) Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins
  • Still This Love Goes On – Buffy Sainte-Marie (Kapaa, United States) and Julie Flett (Victoria, British Columbia) Greystone Kids, Greystone Books
  • The Skull – Jon Klassen (Los Angeles, United States) Candlewick Press
  • When You Can Swim – Jack Wong (Halifax, Nova Scotia) Scholastic Canada

Translation (from French to English)

  • Alone: The Journeys of Three Young Refugees – Arielle Aaronson (Montréal, Quebec) Groundwood Books Ltd. A translation of Seuls, by Paul Tom.
  • House Within a House – D.M. Bradford (Montréal, Quebec) Brick Books. A translation of Désormais, ma demeure, by Nicholas Dawson.
  • Kukum – Susan Ouriou (Calgary, Alberta) Arachnide, House of Anansi Press Inc. A translation of Kukum, by Michel Jean.
  • Okinum – Émilie Monnet (Chelsea, Quebec) Scirocco Drama, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing. A translation of Okinum, by Émilie Monnet.
  • Rosaʼs Very Own Personal Revolution – Peter McCambridge (Québec City, Quebec) QC Fiction, Baraka Books. A translation of La logeuse, by Éric Dupont.

Each writer, translator or illustrator whose book is selected as the winner in its category receives a $25,000 prize. Publishers receive $3,000 to promote the winning book; finalists receive $1,000 each. The winners in both official languages will be announced on on November 8, 2023. For more information, including the full list of French language finalists, please visit the Canada Council for the Arts online.