Governor General’s Literary Awards Winners 2016

Publish 20 March 2017

Congratulations to all winners!


Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien (Alfred A. Knopf Canada / Penguin Random House Canada)

Jury statement:

Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing is an elegant, nuanced and perfectly realized novel that, fugue-like, presents the lives of individuals, collectives, and generations caught in the complexities of history. Tracing the intertwined lives of two families, moving from Revolutionary China to Canada, this ambitious work explores the persistence of past and the power of art, raising meaningful questions for our times.


The Waking Comes Late, Steven Heighton (House of Anansi Press)

Jury statement:

Steven Heighton’s The Waking Comes Late is a journey deepening as we read. He locates the complexities of the personal in a wide range of social issues, while playing masterfully with language, form and tone. His stunning political poems never descend to pedantry or the prosaic. A mature work: smart, moving, inventive, original.


Pig Girl, Colleen Murphy (Playwrights Canada Press)

Jury statement:

Colleen Murphy weaves a masterfully structured examination of humanity within our most inhumane moments. Pig Girl forces us to relentlessly bear witness to a single night of horror that echoes the silenced ongoing violence against women. Difficult and harrowing, it asks us to acknowledge our collective responsibility. Arresting. Undeniable. Unforgettable.


A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, Bill Waiser (Fifth House Publishers)

Jury statement:

From its first page, Bill Waiser’s A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905 surprises the reader with its reconsideration of Canada. In a sweeping blend of narrative, historical detail, and compelling images, Waiser refocuses the country’s story by putting Indigenous peoples and environmental concerns in the foreground.


Calvin, Martine Leavitt (Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press)

Jury statement:

In Martine Leavitt’s Calvin, a boy newly diagnosed with schizophrenia makes a pilgrimage across a frozen Lake Erie. Told in spare, beautiful prose, this transcendent exploration of reality and truth is funny, frightening and affirming. Calvin is an astonishing achievement.


Tokyo Digs a Garden, Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press)

Jury statement:

Tokyo Digs a Garden marries text and illustration in a richly ornamented dream landscape that simultaneously suggests a digital and an organic world. Kellen Hatanaka’s illustrations are inventive and groundbreaking and the hypnotic text by Jon-Erik Lappano conveys its message in a darkly humourous and elegant manner. A book for any age.


The Party Wall, Lazer Lederhendler (Biblioasis) – translation of Le mur mitoyen by Catherine Leroux (Éditions Alto)

Jury statement:

In The Party Wall, his masterly translation of Catherine Leroux’s Le mur mitoyen, Lazer Lederhendler deftly captures the spirit, meaning, and emotional punch of the French text. Writing with grace and imagination, he creates a compelling work of art while serving and respecting the original.

Governor General’s Literary Awards Winners 2016