Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Governor General's Literary Awards Shortlist

The shortlist for the Governor General's Literary Awards has been announced.
The five finalists for English language fiction are:
Siege 13

Tamas Dobozy for Seige 13
Not yet in Parkland Regional Library system.
Dr. Brinkley's Tower
Robert Hough for Dr. Brinkley's Tower
When a rich American doctor decides to build a gargantuan new radio tower in a tiny Mexico border town, fortunes change overnight. Yet not all for the good - word of the new prosperity spreads, and Corazon is overrun by the impoverished, the desperate, and the criminal-minded.
The Headmaster's Wage
Vincent Lam for The Headmaster's Wager
Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant , a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Academy. He is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country. He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. But when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send him away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive. Percival's new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see.
The Juliet Stories
Carrie Snyder for The Juliet Stories
Not yet in Parkland Regional Library system.
The Purchase
Linda Spalding for The Purchase
In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bett. Stripped down and as hard-edged as the realities of pioneer life, Spalding's writing is nothing short of stunning, as it instantly envelops the reader in the world and time of the novel, and follows the lives of unforgettable characters. Inspired by stories of the author's own ancestors, The Purchase is a resonant, powerful and timeless novel.

The five finalists for English language non-fiction are:
A Thousand Farewells
In 1976, Nahlah Ayed¿s family gave up their comfortable life in Winnipeg for the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The transition was jarring, but it was from this uncomfortable situation that Ayed first observed the people whose heritage she shared. The family returned to Canada when she was thirteen, and Ayed ignored the Middle East for many years. But the First Gulf War and the events of 9/11 reignited her interest. Soon she was reporting from the region full-time, trying to make sense of the wars and upheavals that have affected its people and sent so many of them seeking a better life elsewhere. In A Thousand Farewells, Ayed describes with sympathy and insight the myriad ways in which the Arab people have fought against oppression and loss as seen from her own early days witnessing protests in Amman, and the wars, crackdowns, and uprisings she has reported on in countries across the region.
The Pursuit of Perfection
Not yet in Parkland Regional Library system.
Into the Silence
Wade Davis, for INTO THE SILENCE
A magnificent work of history, biography and adventure. If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expedtions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead. In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: "The price of life is death." Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but "a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day." As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much of it that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive. For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.
Leonardo and the Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci's transcendent painting The Last Supper defined the master artist. Until now, no one has told the full story behind its creation. Political events weighed on da Vinci and all of Italy during the time of the painting's conception and creation, as his patron, the Duke of Sforza, unleashed forces leading to a decades-long series of tragedies known as the Italian Wars. Sforza was overthrown by French forces in 1499, forcing da Vinci to flee Milan with the paint on The Last Supper barely dry. The Last Supper ensured Leonardo's universal renown as a visionary master of the arts.
What We Talk About When We Talk About War
The longstanding Canadian self-image as a country of cooperation, compromise, and peace has come under direct challenge in the early years of the 21st century by a right-wing party seeking a more robust sense of national destiny; a challenge reflected in the Conservative government's rapprochement with the United States and Israel and rejection of more multilateral stances in foreign policy, as well as rejecting the traditional values of "discussion, negotiation and compromise" domestically. Displeased with these developments, activist and journalist Richler reflects on the transformation of Canada's self-image through an analysis of the narratives that "Canada has used in order to talk itself into, through and out of the war in Afghanistan."

The five finalists for poetry are:
Monkey Ranch
Julie Bruck, for MONKEY RANCH
Not yet available in Parkland Regional Library system.
Li'l Bastard
David McGimpsey,  for LI’L BASTARD
Not yet available in Parkland Regional Library system.
The New Measures
Not yet available in Parkland Regional Library system.
Any Bright Horse
Lisa Pasold, for ANY BRIGHT HORSE
Not yet available in Parkland Regional Library system.
Sailing to Babylon
James Pollock, for SAILING TO BABYLON
Not yet available in Parkland Regional Library system.

Further categories are Drama, Translation, Children's Literature (text), Children's Literature (illustration), French Language Fiction, French Language Non-Fiction, French Language Poetry, French Language Drama, French Language Translation, French Language Children's Literature (text), and French Language Children's Literature (illustration). The finalists for these categories can be found at The Governor General's Literary Awards site.

The winners will be announced Tuesday, November 13. 

"The Canada Council has partnered with Indigo Books & Music and CBC/Radio-Canada to celebrate the GGs. Indigo’s loyalty programs, plum rewards and iRewards, are offering the chance to win a trip to Ottawa to attend the Governor General’s Literary Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall November 28th. Details of the contest will soon be available on Indigo Books & Music’s website. CBC/Radio-Canada invites book lovers to participate in an online quiz about the English language finalists on CBC Books and about the French language finalists on Radio-Canada’s Zone d’écriture to win 2012 GG books and a Sony Digital Book reader." GGBooks,

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