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Governor General's Literary Award Shortlists Announced, Including Another Nomination for The Dyzgraphxst by Canisia Lubrin

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This morning, the Canada Council for the Arts announced the Governor General's Literary Award shortlists. It's an exciting set of lists, with strong representation for independent publishers, including Arsenal Pulp Press, House of Anansi Press, Book*hug, Pajama Press, Coach House Books, Biblioasis, Playwrights Canada Press, and others. The 2021 prize honours the books judged to be the finest works published in 2020. 

Several awards darlings have received further accolades, with powerhouses like 2021 Canada Reads finalist Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi and 2021 Griffin nominee The Dyzgraphxst by Canisia Lubrin both shortlisted. As well, the iconic Anne Carson has been nominated for Norma Jeane Baker of Troy.

The GGs, as they are affectionately known, will be partnering with (virtual) literary festivals across the country, including the Toronto International Festival of Authors, Calgary Wordfest, the Frye Festival, and others. Check out the GG event listing to tune in and hear from your favourite nominees. 

The winners in each category will be announced on June 1, 2021. See below for the full list of finalists. 


  • Butter Honey Pig BreadFrancesca Ekwuyasi (Arsenal Pulp Press)
  • Five Little Indians, Michelle Good (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins Canada)
  • Indians on Vacation, Thomas King (HarperCollins Canada)
  • Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (House of Anansi Press)
  • The Baudelaire Fractal, Lisa Robertson (Coach House Books)


  • Eight Track, Oana Avasilichioaei (Talonbooks)
  • Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, Anne Carson (New Directions Publishing)
  • Orrery, Donna Kane (Harbour Publishing)
  • Render, Sachiko Murakami (Arsenal Pulp Press)
  • The Dyzgraphxst, Canisia Lubrin (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada)


  • bug, Yolanda Bonnell (Scirocco Drama/J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing)
  • Guarded Girls, Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman (Playwrights Canada Press)
  • Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story, Kim Senklip Harvey (Talonbooks)
  • Quick Bright Things, Christopher Cook (Playwrights Canada Press)
  • Sound of the Beast, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Playwrights Canada Press)


  • A History of My Brief Body, Billy-Ray Belcourt (Hamish Hamilton/PRHC)
  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making SpaceAmanda Leduc (Coach House Books)
  • Rebent Sinner, Ivan Coyote (Arsenal Pulp Press)
  • Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, Tessa McWatt (Random House Canada/PRHC)
  • This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves, Madhur Anand (Strange Light/PRHC)

Young People’s Literature – Text

  • Harvey Holds His Own, Colleen Nelson (Pajama Press)
  • Nevers, Sara Cassidy (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Pine Island Home, Polly Horvath (Puffin Canada/Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers)
  • The Barren Grounds, David A. Robertson (Puffin Canada/PRHC Young Readers)
  • The King of Jam Sandwiches, Eric Walters (Orca Book Publishers)

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books

  • I Talk Like a River, Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House)
  • Our Little Kitchen, Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)
  • Swift Fox All Along, Rebecca Thomas and Maya McKibbin (Annick Press)
  • The Barnabus Project, The Fan Brothers (Tundra Books/PRHC Young Readers)
  • Weekend Dad, Naseem Hrab and Frank Viva (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)

Translation (from French to English)

  • Amaryllis & Little Witch, translated by Alexis Diamond (Playwrights Canada Press); Translation of Vipérine et Petite sorcière, Pascal Brullemans
  • Back Roads, translated by J.C. Sutcliffe (Arachnide/House of Anansi Press); Translation of Routes secondaires, Andrée A. Michaud
  • If You Hear Me, translated by Lazer Lederhendler (Biblioasis); Translation of Si tu m’entends, Pascale Quiviger
  • The Country Will Bring Us No Peace, translated by Pablo Strauss (Coach House Books); Translation of Ici, ailleurs, Matthieu Simard
  • The Neptune Room, translated by Oana Avasilichioaei (Book*hug Press); Translation of La chambre Neptune, Bertrand Laverdure

For more information, including French language nominees, visit the Governor General's Literary Awards website