Canada Council of the Arts: The Best Canadian Books of 2014 Revealed

Ottawa, November 18, 2014 – The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the 14 winners of the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards. See the full list below.

“By celebrating the GG literary awards, we want to highlight the work of Canada’s best authors, illustrators and translators. The voices of these artists and thinkers are more necessary than ever in a world in search of meaning and hope,” said Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council. “The Canada Council supports Canadian literature so that it can be enjoyed by a growing number of readers across Canada and abroad.”

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November 26, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm: Meet the English-language GG winners at a public event at the Canada Council’s offices, 150 Elgin in Ottawa (event with French-language winners on Thursday, November 27).

Canada Council Best Books 2014Winners


Thomas King, (Guelph, Ont.) – The Back of the Turtle (HarperCollinsPublishersLtd)

Andrée A. Michaud, (St-Sébastien-de-Frontenac, Que.) – Bondrée (Éditions Québec Amérique)


Arleen Paré, (Victoria) – Lake of Two Mountains (Brick Books)

José Acquelin, (Montreal) – Anarchie de la lumière (les éditions du passage)


Jordan Tannahill, (Toronto) – Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays (Playwrights Canada Press)

Carole Fréchette, (Montreal) – Small Talk (Leméac Éditeur / Actes Sud)


Michael Harris, (Toronto) – The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection (HarperCollinsPublishersLtd)

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, (Montreal) – Tenir tête (Lux Éditeur)

Children’s Literature — Text

Raziel Reid, (Vancouver) – When Everything Feels like the Movies (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Linda Amyot, (Longueuil, Que.) – Le jardin d’Amsterdam (Leméac Éditeur)

Children’s Literature — Illustration

Jillian Tamaki, (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – This One Summer, text by Mariko Tamaki (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press)

Marianne Dubuc, (Montreal) – Le lion et l’oiseau, text by Marianne Dubuc (Les Éditions de la Pastèque)


Peter Feldstein, (Montreal) – Paul-Émile Borduas: A Critical Biography (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

English translation of Paul-Émile Borduas (1905-1960) : biographie critique et analyse de l’œuvre, by François-Marc Gagnon (Éditions Fides)

Daniel Poliquin, (Ottawa) – L’Indien malcommode : un portrait inattendu des Autochtones d’Amérique du Nord (Les Éditions du Boréal)

French translation of The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, by Thomas King (Doubleday Canada)

About the 2014 peer assessment committees

The finalists and winners for the Governor General’s Literary Awards are chosen by peer assessment committees, who consider all eligible books published between September 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 for English-language books and between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 for French-language books. This year, 966 titles in the English-language categories and 637 in the French-language categories were submitted.

English-language committees and comments for the winning titles

Fiction: Peter Behrens, Elaine McCluskey, Uma Parameswaran

“The Back of the Turtle is a novel that joins Thomas King’s mythopoeic vision to his writerly grasp of an actual, sensual world. Gabriel Quinn’s life in dystopia is peopled by vivid characters and possibly redeemed by persistent hope. This book sounds like tomorrow morning’s news.”

Poetry: Sean Howard, Sid Marty, Carolyn Marie Souaid

“Arleen Paré’s Lake of Two Mountains is a poem of sustained beauty, an almost monastic meditation on the overlapping centres of human and natural reality. Whether she is describing the Oka Crisis, bullfrogs, sunbeams or religion, ‘anything that passes through [this shape-shifting landscape] is transformed,’ including the reader.”

Drama: Aaron Bushkowsky, Catherine Hernandez, Wendy Lill

“Jordan Tannahill’s Age of Minority is rife with vivid and fragile characters, and includes trailblazing storytelling. His unlikely heroes demonstrate the power of youth and love in a hostile world. He is an exciting and courageous voice of our time who gives us a collection full of imaginative and playful imagery.”

Non-fiction: Christopher Dewdney, Hadani Ditmars, Robert Finley

“Michael Harris’s finely crafted book, The End of Absence, marks the arrival of a surprisingly authoritative media savant, in the grand tradition of McLuhan, Frye and Innis.  His book opens a profound vista on an elusive but important phenomenon – the technology that will change us forever.”

Children’s Literature (Text): Hiromi Goto, Jessica Scott Kerrin, Kevin Sylvester

“An edgy and uneasy story with no simple resolutions, Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels like the Movies is unflinching. An openly gay teen in a small-minded town, Jude Rothesay’s fantasy life is a movie but his real life isn’t. He is audacious, creative, rude, often hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking. He’s unforgettable.”

Children’s Literature (Illustration): Christina Leist, Ron Lightburn, Ange Zhang

“The tender and touching story of This One Summer comes to life with Jillian Tamaki’s cinematic and evocative illustrations. Fondness for detail, insightful character development and realistic body language convey complex emotions from the first through to the last page. A tour de force of powerful visual storytelling.”

Translation (French to English): Wayne Grady, Susan Ouriou, George Tombs

“Peter Feldstein’s translation of Paul-Émile Borduas: A Critical Biography is a masterful, fluid, luminous, accurate and exhaustively researched work. His translation is a tour de force that breathes new life into François-Marc Gagnon’s groundbreaking biography of this major Quebec artist. An astonishing accomplishment.”

French-language committees and comments for the winning titles

Fiction: Gracia Couturier, Stéfani Meunier, Stanley Péan

“Armed with her sumptuous style and her gift for moody atmospheres, Andrée A. Michaud creates a darkly luminous universe. A novel that balances precariously on the line between passion and murder, Bondrée leaves us dazzled and wounded, with its tale of trauma, love and childhood and the places that bear the marks of their passage.”

Poetry: Salah Beddiari, Tania Langlais, Dyane Léger

“Anarchie de la lumière, a collection of poems written in fully realized and remarkable language, is quite simply a gift. José Acquelin’s poetry is meditative and lucid, with luminous insights into our lives. Words of comfort and wisdom that tell us: ‘The eyes are always the quickest way to reach the heavens.’”

Drama: Claude Guilmain, Pier-Luc Lasalle, Pascale Rafie

“Drawing on an impressive gallery of characters and wonderfully inventive language, Carole Fréchette’s Small Talk presents the extreme vulnerability of those who are unable to communicate with others. In trying to find the right word, the perfect turn of phrase, we lose sight of what counts: establishing a real contact with the other.”

Non-fiction: Jacques Beaudry, Nadine Mackenzie, Christiane Ndiaye

“Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois’s Tenir tête brings us behind the scenes of the spring of 2012 so we can hear what the government did not want to hear and what the media were not always able to report. In a simple and direct style, it raises the question of the future of democracy.”

Children’s Literature (Text): Mario Brassard, Françoise Enguehard, Lucia Flores

“With Le jardin d’Amsterdam, Linda Amyot offers us a detective novel of the heart, a delicate tale about the power of friendship. In an impressionistic, almost musical style, this work creates a bridge between generations and reminds us that when it comes to love, all of us are vulnerable.”

Children’s Literature (Illustration): Steve Beshwaty, Sylvie Daigneault, Joanne Ouellet

“Le lion et l’oiseau by Marianne Dubuc is a remarkable work whose story takes shape through its visual poetry. With her ineffably tender and touching illustrations, the artist carries us gently through the seasons and emotions with disarming simplicity and grace.”

Translation (English to French): Louis Jolicoeur, Christine Klein-Lataud, Maryse Warda

“In his bold translation L’Indien malcommode, Daniel Poliquin transcribes Thomas King’s caustic humour with vigour, intelligence and a great creative liberty. The unbridled rhythm and wide variety of registers presented considerable challenges which the translator met with audacity and imagination.”

Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the 2014 GG Literary Awards on Wednesday, November 26 at 6 pm at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Media representatives wishing to cover the awards presentation should contact Julie Rocheleau at the Rideau Hall Press Office, 613-998-7280 or

Additional information

The Canada Council for the Arts funds and administers the GGs, the most significant literary award program in Canada, providing close to $450,000 in prize money. Each winner of the Governor General’s Literary Awards receives $25,000. The publisher of each winning book receives $3000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists receive $1000 in recognition of their selection as finalists.

(Canada Council)