The list is here! Whether you follow these types of prestigious awards or not, the announcement of this year’s Governer General Award Finalists provides an excellent reading list—for you or the young reader in your life.

“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,” says Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts. We agree. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve valued the stack of books on our bedside table more than ever. 

Our country is brimming with literary talent, and today’s announcement is proof that our breadth of diverse voices is our  strength. Soak in words and wisdom from some of our greatest writers!

English-language finalists for 2020


·       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) – Talonbooks

·       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) – Talonbooks

·       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

The 14 winners for 2020 will be announced on June 1, 2021 on