Annal: 2005 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2005.

Book:A Perfect Night to Go to China

A Perfect Night to Go to China

David Gilmour

This astonishing novel—unlike anything Gilmour has ever written before—begins with every parent’s worst nightmare: the disappearance of a child. A father makes a casual error of judgement one evening and leaves his six-year-old son alone for fifteen minutes. When he returns the child is gone and three lives are changed forever. Has the boy been kidnapped? Spirited out of the country? Is he dead? The story that unfolds is told by the novel’s narrator, a television host named Roman, who searches for his son through the city and through the underworld of dreams and tries to bring him back. Pursued by an unshakeable conviction that his son is speaking directly to him, Roman begins to enter a haunting relationship with the missing child and his own conscience. In the meantime, his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and he is rejected by his grieving and angry wife, eventually fired from his job, and shadowed by a persistent policeman who thinks Roman is hiding the child. Written in the clear, elegant prose Gilmour is known for, “A Perfect Night to Go to China” is a completely absorbing and original work of fiction. It sets up a harrowing premise and doesn’t let up until the last surprising page.

Book:Alphabet

Alphabet: A Novel

Kathy Page

Book:Ladykiller

Ladykiller: Stories

Charlotte Gill

In her debut collection of razor-edged short fiction, Vancouver’s Charlotte Gill explores the seamy side of sex in the city. The ladykiller of the title story gets his kicks from rubbing up against strange women in malls and parking garages. Other protagonists include a washed-up diving instructor who can’t stop fantasizing about his 16-year-old student, a confused young woman who drifts into a disastrous affair with her middle-aged professor, and barracuda-like twin sisters on the prowl for men on a Thai beach. In “Hush,” the most disturbing of these seven tales of contemporary urban life, a desperate couple fixates on the crying baby in the apartment below in a vain attempt to repair their frying relationship. “Hush” was a finalist for the Journey Prize, but an even more artful piece of fiction is the opening story, “You Drive.”

Book:Nellcott Is My Darling

Nellcott Is My Darling: A Novel

Golda Fried

Alice Darling has just moved to Montreal to go to McGill University. She’s never had a boyfriend and doesn’t know how to do laundry. She joins the Film Society and hangs out in the library. She drifts away from boring Bethany, her best friend from high school, and starts to trail after Allegra, the caffeine-addicted, dish-throwing artist in the dorm room next to hers. And, most of all, she thinks about how she’s still a virgin and how she’ll never figure it all out.

And then she meets Nellcott Ragland, a 23-year-old who works at Basement Records and wears black eyeliner, and he asks her on a date.

Alice tries to hide out in the Film Society office. She spies on Nellcott at the record store. She gets advice from Walker, her filmmaking, womanizing friend from Toronto. But sooner or later her parents are going to visit and watch her cry. She won’t admit it to them, but Nellcott has become her darling.

Book:Three Day Road

Three Day Road

Joseph Boyden

In this haunting debut novel, two young Cree Indians become infantry snipers in the trenches of World War I. Set in Canada and the battlefields of France and Belgium, Three-Day Road is a mesmerizing novel told through the eyes of Niska-a Canadian Oji-Cree woman living off the land who is the last of a line of healers and diviners-and her nephew Xavier.

At the urging of his friend Elijah, a Cree boy raised in reserve schools, Xavier joins the war effort. Shipped off to Europe when they are nineteen, the boys are marginalized from the Canadian soldiers not only by their native appearance but also by the fine marksmanship that years of hunting in the bush has taught them. Both become snipers renowned for their uncanny accuracy. But while Xavier struggles to understand the purpose of the war and to come to terms with his conscience for the many lives he has ended, Elijah becomes obsessed with killing, taking great risks to become the most accomplished sniper in the army. Eventually…[more]

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