Annal: 2001 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2001.

Book:Clara Callan

Clara Callan: A Novel

Richard B. Wright

It is the year 1934, and in a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for the show business world of New York. It’s a time when people escape from reality through radio and the movies, when the Dionne Quints make headlines, when the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, and the two sisters—vastly different in personality yet inextricably linked by a shared past—try to find their place within the complex web of social expectations for young women in the 1930s.

While Nora embarks on a glamorous career as a radio soap opera star, Clara, a strong and independent-minded woman, struggles to observe the traditional boundaries of a small and tight-knit community without relinquishing her dreams of love, freedom, and adventure. But Nora’s letters eventually begin to reveal that her life in the big city is a little less exotic than it may…[more]

Book:Dragons Cry

Dragons Cry

Tessa McWatt

Over the course of the evening following the burial of his older brother, David, Simon and his partner, Faye, struggle to reconcile their pasts through the prism of the brother who brought them together, but who also drove them apart. A flood of memory — of childhoods in Canada and the Caribbean, of youthful hopes and adult choices — swirls about this haunting multi-layered novel about the shifting nature of love and belonging.

Book:Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Yann Martel

Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it…[more]

Book:Salamander

Salamander

Thomas Wharton

Nicholas Flood, an unassuming eighteenth-century London printer, specializes in novelty books—books that nestle into one another, books comprised of one spare sentence, books that emit the sounds of crashing waves. When his work captures the attention of an eccentric Slovakian count, Flood is summoned to a faraway castle—a moving labyrinth that embodies the count’s obsession with puzzles—where he is commissioned to create the infinite book, the ultimate never-ending story. Probing the nature of books, the human thirst for knowledge, and the pursuit of immortality, Salamander careens through myth and metaphor as Flood travels the globe in search of materials for the elusive book without end.

Book:The Stone Carvers

The Stone Carvers: A Novel

Jane Urquhart

While the world was still reeling from the staggering losses incurred in the First World War, a little-known Canadian sculptor was raising a colossal monument in France, where more than sixty-six thousand of his countrymen had fought and died. The Vimy Ridge Memorial still stands as a stark reminder of the Canadians who gave their lives in France—and as a testament to the vision and single-minded obsession of its now-forgotten architect, Walter Allward.

It is against the backdrop of this incredible achievement that Jane Urquhart sets her new novel. At the center of the story is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master woodcarver, who spends her childhood in a German-settled community in southwestern Ontario in the years leading up to the Great War. It is a childhood punctuated by tremendous losses: her mother dies of cancer when she is a teenager; her older brother, in love with wandering, eventually leaves the family; and her brief but passionate love affair with Eamon O’Sullivan is cut short when he volunteers for action and never returns. But Klara’s inherited gift for carving eventually reunites her with her brother and gives her purpose as she works on the memorial that will make her whole again.

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