Hello from Christa your friendly neighbourhood Book Editor! I’m filling in this week for Ashley and have a bunch of interesting news from the literary world for you so let’s jump right in.
This week the winners of two major book awards were announced. The first was the Man Booker Prize, which, for the first time ever, was awarded to an American author. Paul Beatty took home the £50,000 prize for his novel The Sellout, a satirical novel about the current state of racial politics in the United States.
Meanwhile in Canada, The Governor General’s Literary Awards were announced. Madeleine Thien (who was also nominated for the Man Booker) won the fiction prize for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, set in China before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Other GG Award winners include The Party Wall by Lazer Lederhendler in the translation category and A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905 by Bill Waiser in the non fiction category. You can find the full list of winners here.
Now technically, Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire’s comic-album Secret Path & Joseph Boyden’s novella Wenjack, came out last week but the response to them has been so phenomenal they’re worth talking about this week as well. Both works tell the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young First Nations boy who died fifty years ago when running away from a residential school. It’s a part of Canadian history we don’t talk about very often but that is starting to change.
The fact that his death and the residential school system are being put in the limelight is very important. And while that is amazing, it’s also a little disappointing that it took Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip, to do it. I applaud Downie’s efforts but it’s a shame that it’s been 50 years and many people are only learning Chanie’s name now. But the fact that children may grow up reading Secret Path and other works is a step in the right direction.
Last week, Ashley also told us about the new book by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. This week we learned that the “autographed” copies Chapters-Indigo stores were selling across Canada weren’t the real deal. As it turns out, the signatures were done with autopen (an electronic signature) instead. Chapters-Indigo claims they “unknowingly received [the] auto-penned versions instead of the promised autographed books” and it is still unclear exactly how the mix-up happened. But for those who had already purchased a copy the book store chain has promised a full refund.
Other Things of Note this Week: