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Governor-General’s Literary Award short list a serious case of déjà vu

Madeleine Thien is nominated for Do Not Say We Have Nothing, a novel that grapples with the legacy of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Penguin Random House Canada/Christy Ann Conlin/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The short list for this year's Governor-General's Literary Award for English-language Fiction will likely leave readers experiencing déjà vu: All five authors are also finalists for one of the fall season's other two major prizes.

The nominees are Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing, a novel that grapples with the legacy of Mao's Cultural Revolution; Anosh Irani for The Parcel, a novel set in Mumbai's red-light district; Kerry Lee Powell for her short-story collection Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush; Gary Barwin for his novel Yiddish for Pirates, about a young adventurer and his polyglot parrot; and previous G-G poetry winner Katherena Vermette for her debut novel, The Break, which is a multiperspective examination of a sexual assault.

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Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Anosh Irani's The Parcel

Kerry Lee Powell's Willem de Kooning's Paintbrush

Gary Barwin's Yiddish for Pirates

Katherena Vermette's The Break

Vermette, Powell and Irani are also nominated for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, while Barwin and Thien (who is also a finalist for the Man Booker Prize) are on the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.

In the category of English-language non-fiction, the shortlist features Teva Harrison, whose graphic memoir In-Between Days chronicles her life with cancer; Harold R. Johnson for Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours); Marc Raboy for Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World; Bill Waiser for A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905; and former Globe and Mail theatre critic Kamal Al-Solaylee for Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone).

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The category of English-language drama includes a pair of former winners: Jordan Tannahill, who won the prize in 2014, is up for Concord Floral, while Colleen Murphy, who won in 2007, is nominated for Pig Girl. The other finalists are Brad Fraser for Kill Me Now; Donna-Michelle St. Bernard for A Man A Fish; and Mary Vingoe for Refuge.

Young people's literature is divided into two categories: illustrated books and text. In the former category, the nominees are Jo Ellen Bogart and Sydney Smith for The White Cat and the Monk; Lucy Ruth Cummins for A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals; Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka for Tokyo Digs a Garden; Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt for The Branch; and Esmé Shapiro for Ooko. The nominees for text are Mikaela Everett for The Unquiet; E.K. Johnston for A Thousand Nights; Trilby Kent for Once, in a Town Called Moth; Martine Leavitt for Calvin; and Tim Wynne-Jones for The Emperor of Any Place.

The English-language poetry finalists are Rachel Rose for Marry & Burn; Garry Thomas Morse for Prairie Harbour; Susan Holbrook for Throaty Wipes; Steven Heighton for The Waking Comes Late; and Joe Denham for Regeneration Machine.

Finally, the nominees for French-to-English translation are Rhonda Mullins for her translation of Louis Carmain's Guano; Neil Smith for his translation of Geneviève Pettersen's The Goddess of Fireflies; and Lazer Lederhendler for his translation of Catherine Leroux's The Party Wall, which is also a finalist for the Giller Prize.

The winners of both the English- and French-langauge prizes, who receive $25,000 each, will be announced Oct. 25.

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About the Author
Books Editor

Mark Medley is the Globe and Mail’s Books Editor. Prior to joining the paper he spent more than seven years at the National Post, where he served as an arts reporter and books editor. More

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