Governor General’s Literary Awards Winners Announced

Ottawa, October 29, 2019 – Today, the Canada Council for the Arts
revealed the 2019 winners for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks).

Following a rigorous process, peer assessment committees determined that these books were the best to have been published in Canada in seven categories, in both French and in English. They stood out from among some 1,400 books submitted to the committees. See the full list here.

Dates to mark in your calendar:

  • December 12: Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, will host a ceremony to celebrate the winners at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa.
  • Later this fall: The public will be invited to meet with the GGBooks winners at public readings in Ottawa.

About the GGBooks:

  • Founded in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary award programs, with a total annual prize value of $450,000.
  • The Canada Council for the Arts has funded, administered and promoted the awards since 1959.
  • Finalists are selected by category-specific, language-based peer assessment committees (seven in English and seven in French), who consider eligible books published between September 1st, 2018, and September 30, 2019, for English-language books and between July 1st, 2018, and June 30, 2019, for French-language books.
  • Each winner receives $25,000, with the publisher receiving $3,000 to promote the winning book. Finalists receive $1,000 each.

2019 English-language Winners

Young People’s Literature – Text:

  • Stand on the Sky – Erin Bow (Kitchener, Ont.)
    Scholastic Canada

It goes against all tradition for Aisulu to train an eagle, for among Kazakh nomads, only men can fly eagles. But everything changes when Aisulu discovers that her brother, Serik, has a bad limp. His illness could risk not only his future as the leader of the family, but also his life as well. When her parents leave to seek a cure for Serik, Aisulu moves in with her aunt and uncle, trying to conceal an eaglet she rescued. When Aisulu is discovered, her uncle decides to undertake the arduous task of training Aisulu to be an eagle hunter so that she can compete in the yearly contest. If she wins, the prize money will pay for Serik’s cure and save her family from having to abandon their nomadic lifestyle.

Peer Assessment Committee: Kagiso Lesego Molope, Kenneth Oppel, Ellen Schwartz

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • Small in the City – Sydney Smith (Halifax, N.S.)
    Groundwood Books

On a snowy day in a big city, a little boy hops off a streetcar and walks through downtown, between office buildings, through parks and down busy streets. Along the way, he provides helpful tips about which alleys make good shortcuts, which trees to climb and where to find a friendly face. All the while, the boy searches for what he has lost. Award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith’s first book tells the story of what it means to get lost in the city, travel the wrong path and get caught in bad weather—and then ultimately find your way back home. His beautiful watercolour illustrations alternate between full spreads and small panels, evoking the sometimes overwhelming cacophony of urban sights and sounds, as well as the quiet moments that make all of us feel less small in the city.

Peer Assessment Committee: Shauntay Grant, Jon Klassen, Kathryn Shoemaker

2019 French-language Winners

Young People’s Literature – Text:

  • L’albatros et la mésange – Dominique Demers (Montréal, Que.)
    Éditions Québec AmériqueMélodie et Jean-Baptiste ont 17 ans. Il vit au sein d’une famille nombreuse; elle cohabite avec sa mère. Mélodie tente de survivre à une peine d’amour dévastatrice; Jean-Baptiste lutte contre une éducation religieuse envahissante. Elle prend ses études à cœur; il se donne tout entier à son projet sur l’éthologie, l’étude du comportement des animaux. Ils apprendront à s’apprivoiser sous l’ombre des grands arbres du mont Royal, partageant leurs découvertes et leurs révoltes en ce printemps des oiseaux.Dominique Demers nous livre un roman empreint de passion. Son récit touchant aborde avec une grande sensibilité la réalité de deux adolescents, lui surdoué, elle déchirée, tout en réussissant à approfondir des sujets universels, brûlants d’actualité, qui sauront conquérir tous les lecteurs.

Peer Assessment Committee: Marie-Célie Agnant, Jocelyn Boisvert, Karen Olsen

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • Jack et le temps perdu – Stéphanie Lapointe and Delphie Côté-Lacroix (Montréal, Que.)
    Quai no 5, Les Éditions XYZ

Le jour où la baleine grise à la nageoire dorsale cicatrisée s’empare de son fils, Jack s’embarque dans une folle aventure pour le retrouver. Le pêcheur sera prêt à tout pour y parvenir, quitte à y perdre… son âme.

Peer Assessment Committee:  Nahid Kazemi, Diane Carmel Léger, François Thisdale

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. The Council champions and invests in artistic excellence through a broad range of grants, services, prizes and payments to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations. Its work ensures that excellent, vibrant and diverse art and literature engages Canadians, enriches their communities and reaches markets around the world. The Council also raises public awareness and appreciation of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. It is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO in Canada to contribute to a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable future. The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends yearly payments to authors whose works are in Canada’s public libraries. The Canada Council Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts.

Media contacts

To book interviews with the finalists:
Charlene Coy, C2C Communications

Canada Council for the Arts
Joly-Anne Ricard
Communications Advisor
1-800-263-5588, ext. 4166 or
343-998-2627 (cell)

Rideau Hall contact:
Josephine Laframboise
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-668-1929 (cellphone)