The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the Governor General’s Literary Awards Finalists

Though this announcement is later than we would have liked, it is with great pleasure that the Canada Council for the Arts today revealed the 2020 finalists for the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Awards (GGBooks). Following a rigorous process—which was delayed because of the pandemic—our peer assessment committees determined that these 70 books were the best to have been published in Canada in 2020, across seven categories, in both French and English.

In this difficult and oppressive time, Canadian literature is a source of comfort, inspiration and escape. The finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Awards make us think, move us, transport us, give us the mot juste or translate our thoughts into imagery. They are a good way to cultivate hope.

Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

The regular GGBooks schedule will resume with the 2021 finalists and winners revealed this fall.

Mark your calendars

  • June 1, 2021 – The 14 winners for 2020 will be announced on
  • Fall 2021 – The finalists and winners for 2021 will be announced on

About the GGBooks:

  • Founded in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards program, 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 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, for English-language books and between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, for French-language books.
  • Each winner receives $25,000, with the editor receiving $3,000 for promotional activities around the winning book. Finalists receive $1,000 each.

English-language finalists for 2020 (seven categories)


  • Butter Honey Pig Bread – Francesca Ekwuyasi (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
    Arsenal Pulp Press
  • Five Little Indians – Michelle Good (Kamloops, British Columbia)
    Harper Perennial / HarperCollins Canada
  • Indians on Vacation – Thomas King (Guelph, Ontario)
    HarperCollins Canada
  • Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Peterborough, Ontario)
    House of Anansi Press
  • The Baudelaire Fractal – Lisa Robertson (Nalliers, France)
    Coach House Books


  • Eight Track – Oana Avasilichioaei (Montréal, Quebec)
  • Norma Jeane Baker of Troy – Anne Carson (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
    New Directions Publishing
  • Orrery – Donna Kane (Rolla, British Columbia)
    Harbour Publishing
  • Render – Sachiko Murakami (Toronto, Ontario)
    Arsenal Pulp Press
  • The Dyzgraphxst – Canisia Lubrin (Whitby, Ontario)
    McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada


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


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

Young People’s Literature – Text:

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

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • I Talk Like a River – Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith (Royston, British Columbia / Halifax, Nova Scotia)
    Neal Porter Books / Holiday House
  • Our Little Kitchen – Jillian Tamaki (Toronto, Ontario)
    Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press
  • Swift Fox All Along – Rebecca Thomas and Maya McKibbin (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia / Copenhagen, Denmark)
    Annick Press
  • The Barnabus Project – The Fan Brothers (Toronto, Ontario)
    Tundra Books / Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers
  • Weekend Dad – Naseem Hrab and Frank Viva (Toronto, Ontario)
    Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press

Translation (from French to English):

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

French-language finalists for 2020 (seven categories)


  • Autobiographie de l’étranger – Marie-Ève Lacasse (Paris, France)
    Flammarion Québec
  • Chasse à l’homme – Sophie Létourneau (Québec City, Quebec)
    La Peuplade
  • Chienne – Marie-Pier Lafontaine (Montréal, Quebec)
  • Menthol – Jennifer Bélanger (Montréal, Quebec)
  • Shuni – Naomi Fontaine (Québec City, Quebec)
    Mémoire d’encrier


  • Déblais – Paul Bélanger (Montréal, Quebec)
    Éditions du Noroît
  • Et là, mon père suivi de Et là, ma mère – Hugues Corriveau (Montréal, Quebec)
    les éditions du passage
  • L’amour des oiseaux moches – Symon Henry (Montréal, Quebec)
    Éditions Omri
  • La société des cendres suivi de Des lames entières – Martine Audet (Montréal, Quebec)
    Éditions du Noroît
  • Les visages de la terre – Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui (Wendake, Quebec)
    Éditions Hannenorak


  • Aalaapi : faire silence pour entendre quelque chose de beau – Collectif Aalaapi
    Atelier 10
  • : L’intégrale – Claude Guilmain (Toronto, Ontario)
    Les Éditions L’Interligne
  • Cœur minéral – Martin Bellemare (Montréal, Quebec)
    Dramaturges Éditeurs
  • Sucré Seize [Huit filles] – Suzie Bastien (Montréal, Quebec)
    Lansman Editeur
  • Zoé – Olivier Choinière (Montréal, Quebec)
    Atelier 10


  • De préférence la nuit – Stanley Péan (Montréal, Quebec)
    Les Éditions du Boréal
  • Carnet de Frida Burns sur quelques morceaux de vie et de littérature – Frédérique Bernier (Montréal, Quebec)
    Nota bene, Groupe Nota bene
  • Le rapt ontologique. Penser l’être des singularités – Thomas Dommange (Longueuil, Quebec)
    Nota bene, Groupe Nota bene
  • Nous sommes le soleil. Femmes sous la dictature (Argentine 1976-1983) – Guylaine Massoutre (Montréal, Quebec)
    Varia, Groupe Nota bene
  • Une épine empourprée – Michaël La Chance (Chicoutimi, Quebec)
    Triptyque, Groupe Nota bene

Young People’s Literature – Text:

  • Cicatrices – Camille Bouchard (Fortierville, Quebec)
    Les Éditions du Boréal
  • Il faut de tout pour faire un monstre – Johanne Mercier (Québec City, Quebec)
    Éditions FouLire
  • L’ogre et l’enfant – Magali Laurent (Québec City, Quebec)
    Bayard Canada Livres
  • Lac Adélard – François Blais (Charette, Quebec)
    la courte échelle
  • Rap pour violoncelle seul – Maryse Pagé (Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec)
    Leméac Éditeur

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books:

  • copine et Copine – Kim Nunès, Marie-Chantal Perron, Tammy Verge and Amélie Dubois (Saint-Jérôme, Quebec / Montréal, Quebec / Montréal, Quebec / Trois-Rivières, Quebec)
    Les Éditions de l’Homme, division du Groupe Sogides
  • Le grand méchant loup dans ma maison – Valérie Fontaine and Nathalie Dion (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec / Montréal, Quebec)
    Éditions Les 400 coups
  • Le pays aux mille soleils – Mireille Levert (Montréal, Quebec)
    Les Éditions de la Bagnole
  • Mimose & Sam : Mission hibernation – Cathon (Montréal, Quebec)
    Comme des géants
  • Pet et Répète : la véritable histoire – Katia Canciani and Guillaume Perreault (Gatineau, Quebec / Trois-Rivières, Quebec)

Translation (from English to French):

  • Jonny Appleseed – Translated by Arianne Des Rochers (Montréal, Quebec)
    Mémoire d’encrier; translation of Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
  • La Société du feu de l’enfer – Translated by Sophie Voillot (Montréal, Quebec)
    Éditions Alto; translation of Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage
  • L’accoucheuse de Scots Bay – Translated by Sonya Malaborza (Galloway, New Brunswick)
    Éditions Prise de parole; translation of The Birth House by Ami McKay
  • Océan – Translated by Georgette LeBlanc (Moncton, New Brunswick)
    Éditions Perce-Neige; translation of Ocean by Sue Goyette
  • On pleure pas au bingo – Translated by Daniel Grenier (Québec City, Quebec)
    Éditions Hannenorak; translation of Nobody Cries at Bingo by Dawn Dumont

Composition of the 2020 English-language peer assessment committees:

Fiction: Anne Fleming, Ariela Freedman and Rabindranath Maharaj

Poetry: David Groulx, Clea Roberts and Johanna Skibsrud

Drama: Catherine Banks, Andrew Moodie and Kenneth T. Williams

Non-fiction: Deni Ellis Béchard, Helen Humphreys and Sally Ito

Young People’s Literature – Text: Catherine Austen, Cary Fagan and Shenaaz Nanji

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books: Wallace Edwards, Bonnie Farmer and Kyo Maclear

Translation (from French to English): Angela Carr, Jo-Anne Elder and Nigel Spencer

Composition of the 2020 French-language peer assessment committees:

Fiction: Simone Chaput, Daniel Grenier and Olivia Tapiero

Poetry: Sonia Cotten, Mona Latif-Ghattas and David Ménard

Drama: Marie Louise Bibish Mumbu, Matthieu Girard and Anne-Marie Provencher

Non-fiction: Joël Des Rosiers, Benoit Doyon-Gosselin and Catherine Mavrikakis

Young People’s Literature – Text: Anne Bernard-Lenoir, Mario Brassard and Diya Lim

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books: Marie-Louise Gay, Mireille Messier and Sylvain Rivard

Translation (from English to French): Sophie M. Lavoie, Daniel Poliquin and Anne-Marie Regimbald

About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder.

Its grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts.

Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts.

The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries.

The Council’s Art Bank provides the broader public with a collection of over 17,000 Canadian contemporary art works to enjoy through its rental, loan, and dissemination programs.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO operates under the authority of the Council. It shares a common history and future with the Council in terms of sustainable development characterized by the arts, science, culture, equality, and peace.