Annal: 2003 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2003.

Book:Elle

Elle: A Novel

Douglas Glover

Douglas Glover tells of a Rabelaisian riff on a dramatic historical event: the story of Marguerite de la Rocque, niece of the vicious Sieur de Roberval. Having caught her in the arms of her lover, Roberval set the lustful pair and Marguerite’s nurse ashore on the desolate Isle of Demons. Many months later, after her nurse, her lover, and her newborn baby had all died, Marguerite was rescued by a passing ship and taken home to France. Of course, the plot is only the beginning. Elle is a Grand Guignol, a Brueghel painting in words. What with real bears, spirit bears, and perhaps hallucinated bears, with mystified and mystifying Natives, with the lurid residue of religious faith, and with a world of self-preserving belligerence, the heroine of Elle not only survives but triumphs. At the end of the book, another twist brings Elle all too close to home.
Book:Garbo Laughs

Garbo Laughs: A novel

Elizabeth Hay

Set in Ottawa in the 1990s, it is the quixotic tale of tall, thin Harriet Browning, inflamed by the movies she was deprived of as a child. Harriet is a woman so saturated with the movies, seen repeatedly and swallowed whole, that she no longer fits into this world. Bent on seeing everything she has missed, she forms a Friday night movie club with three companions-of-the-screen: a boy who loves Frank Sinatra, a girl with Bette Davis eyes, and an earthy sidekick named Dinah for Dinah Shore. Breaking in upon this quiet backwater, in time with the devastating ice storm of 1998, come two refugees from Hollywood, the faded widow of a famous screenwriter and her movie-expert stepson. They are harsh reality. With them come blackouts, arguments, accidents, illness and sudden death. But what chance does real life stand when we can watch movies instead? What hope does real love have when movie love, in all its brief intensity, is an easy option? In this comedy of secondhand desire, movies and movie lovers come first

Book:Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake: A Novel

Margaret Atwood

A stunning and provocative new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize, Margaret Atwood’s new novel is so utterly compelling, so prescient, so relevant, so terrifyingly-all-too-likely-to-be-true, that readers may find their view of the world forever changed after reading it. With breathtaking command of her shocking material and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into a conceivable future of our own world, an outlandish yet wholly believable place left devastated in the wake of ecological and scientific disaster and populated by characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the book is closed. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers. For readers of Oryx and Crake, nothing will ever look the same again.

Book:Private View

Private View: A novel

Jean McNeil

Set in contemporary London, it’s Bridget Jones meets Matthew Collings with a dash of pure Canadian angst thrown in. A talented young artist is trying to get over the death of her boyfriend on a disastrous trip to Central America. Blackly humorous, Jean McNeil’s deeply introspective style and her wild imagination are perfectly suited to this tale of modern Bohemia.

Book:Ten Thousand Lovers

Ten Thousand Lovers: A novel

Edeet Ravel

Israel, 1970s. Lily, a young emigrant student exploring the wonders and terrors of her new land, finds the man of her dreams—Ami, a former actor. Handsome, intelligent, and exciting, but like his beautiful, disintegrating country, Ami has a terrible flaw—he is an army interrogator. As Ami and Lily’s unexpected passion grows, so too does the shadow that hangs over them. They must face the unspeakable horrors of Ami’s work and their uncertain future.

While set in the ’70s, Ten Thousand Lovers is a brilliant and terrifyingly contemporary tale of passion, suffering, and the transcending power of love.

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