I am honoured to have been one of the jurors for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards. Congratulations to all of the books and authors on the shortlists! May we all take a moment to celebrate the extraordinary literary work that is being done in this country. And may we all work (and vote) to ensure that support for the arts continues and that culture is valued as the priceless nourishment that it is.
There were about 180 books under consideration in the Non-Fiction category, and I spent much of the summer in a rocking chair reading biographies, histories, memoirs, essay collections, scientific enquiries, technological explorations, political treatises, travel literature, and books that didn’t fit into any category at all. The non-fiction prize is not so much about comparing apples to oranges as it is pears to bicycles.
The process of selection was by turns fascinating and excruciating, and while I am thrilled for our finalists, I cannot help but feel a bit heartbroken for the books that would have been featured and celebrated on a longlist were this prize to include one.
The names of the jurors for this prize are kept confidential (until today), so when people would ask what I was up to this summer, I was required to be vague. “Oh, just doing a bit of reading,” I’d say, the stack of books beside me bursting with sticky notes that I would occasionally shield with my hand.
“I wish I were a writer,” a neighbour commented, eyeing the books, the rocking chair, my pot of tea. “It looks so relaxing.”