This is an important award for me. First, I’m Canadian and second because I feel Canadian authors are often neglected in the world of literature. Sure there are a few commonwealth awards we can enter but great authors are often overlooked for their contemporaries. The Governor General (GG) is the one award besides the Giller Prize whose main focus is Canadian Literature only. Canada has an eclectic array of authors both new and seasoned who contribute greatly to the literary world but a lot of writers get lost behind country borders or the success of authors like Margaret Atwood.
When the Giller Prize for fiction was awarded I knew who the winner was within a few hours; a news bulletin from India of all places. I then did a search of the internet and found beautiful photos of the evening all ready showing up on other newswires. This morning, the Governor General Awards for Literary prowess were distributed and today I’ve had an awful time trying to find out who the winner for fiction was. Apparently I was poking around the GG site as they were updating it. Still, I find this a shame that this literary award is getting so little attention compared to the Giller. Is it because the Scotiabank backed the Giller this year that it received so much attention? But doesn’t the Governor General back the Governor General awards? Why isn’t this award as important for CTV, CBS or whatever network coverage?
The GG awards are also given in nonfiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature and translation. The cash prize is $15,000 ($25,000 for the anniversary year) compared to the Giller’s $40,000. In relationship to some of the international awards both of these are peanuts but at least the Giller’s prize amount enables a new writer to continue to work at his/her craft for another year. In the GG the publisher even gets a monetary award; $3,000. Runners up or finalists receive $1,000.
The BMO Financial Group (www4.bmo.com) has been the sponsor of the Governor General’s Literary Awards since 1988. You would think being a financial group they could offer a substantial award for the winners. But without it the Canada Council of the Arts could not promote the finalists and winners to bookstores, schools, libraries and public events across Canada. Too bad there isn’t a little money to go toward some international promotion.
Previous winners include the likes of Joseph Boyden, Golda Fried, Charlotte Gill, David Gilmour and Kathy Page. There is a reading list in the related links below.
This piece was originally posted on 12/10/2007 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.