Francesca Ekwuyasi, Billy-Ray Belcourt & Anne Carson among 2020 Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists


Francesca Ekwuyasi, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Anne Carson are among the finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Awards.

The prizes, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, are awarded in seven English-language categories: fictionnonfictionpoetryyoung people’s literature — textyoung people’s literature — illustrationdrama and translation. Seven French-language awards are also given out in the same categories.

The 2020 prizes were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 awards will be given out in the fall.

Ekwuyasi, a writer and filmmaker from Halifax, is a finalist in the fiction category for her debut novel, Butter Honey Pig Bread.

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Butter Honey Pig Bread was on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. It was championed by Roger Mooking on Canada Reads 2021.

Also shortlisted in the fiction category is Thomas King for Indians on Vacation, Michelle Good for her debut novel Five Little Indians, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson for Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies and poet Lisa Robertson for her first novel, The Baudelaire Fractal.

Belcourt is a finalist in the nonfiction category for his memoir A History of My Brief Body. He was the youngest-ever winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. He was also the first First Nations Rhodes scholar from Canada. But he was once a young boy, growing up in Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. 

Also nominated in the nonfiction category is Amanda Leduc for her examination of fairy tales, Disfigured, Ivan Coyote for their personal essay collection Rebent Sinner, Tessa McWatt for her memoir Shame on Me and Madhur Anand for her memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart.

Carson, one of Canada’s most accomplished poets, is a finalist in the poetry category for Norma Jeane Baker of TroyNorma Jeane Baker of Troy brings together the mythology of Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe to explore the power of beauty.

Oana Avasilichioaei, a poet, artist and translator from Montreal, is nominated in two different categories this year. She is a finalist in the poetry category for her poetry collection Eight Track and is a finalist in the translation category for her translation of The Neptune Room by Bertrand Laverdure.

You can see a complete list of the 2020 finalists below.

The winner in each category will receive $25,000. 

The winners will be announced on June 1, 2020.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards were created in 1937. Past winners include Thomas KingMadeleine ThienMichael OndaatjeAlice Munro and Margaret Atwood.

The Canada Council for the Arts is a partner of the CBC Literary Prizes

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can learn more about the fiction finalists here.

The 2020 finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can learn more about the nonfiction finalists here.

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for poetry. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can learn more about the poetry finalists here.

The 2020 finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Young people’s literature — text. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can read more about the young people’s literature — text finalists here.

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Young people’s literature — illustrated books. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can read more about the young people’s literature — illustrated books finalists here.

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for drama. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can read more about the drama finalists here.

The finalists for the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for French-to-English translation. (Canada Council for the Arts/CBC)

You can read more about the translation finalists here.

Read more at CBC.ca