Annal: 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2007.

Book:Divisadero

Divisadero: A Novel

Michael Ondaatje

From the celebrated author of The English Patient and In the Skin of a Lion comes a remarkable new novel of intersecting lives that ranges across continents and time.

In the 1970s in Northern California, near Gold Rush country, a father and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work their farm with the help of Coop, an enigmatic young man who makes his home with them. Theirs is a makeshift family, until it is riven by an incident of violence—of both hand and heart—that sets fire to the rest of their lives.

Divisadero takes us from the city of San Francisco to the raucous backrooms of Nevada’s casinos and eventually to the landscape of south-central France. It is here, outside a small rural village, that Anna becomes immersed in the life and the world of a writer from an earlier time—Lucien Segura. His compelling story, which has its beginnings at the turn of the century,…[more]

Book:The Assassin's Song

The Assassin's Song: A Novel

M.G. Vassanji

From the age of eleven, Karsan has been told that one day he will succeed his father as guardian of the Shrine of the Wanderer: as the highest spiritual authority in their region, he will be God’s representative to the multitudes who come to the shrine for penance and worship. But Karsan’s longings are simpler: to play cricket with his friends, to discover more of the exciting world he reads about in the newspapers his friend Raja Singh, a truck driver, brings him from all over India.

Half on a whim, Karsan applies to study at Harvard, but when he is unexpectedly offered a scholarship there he must try to meld his family’s wishes with his own yearnings. Two years immersed in the intellectual and sexual ferment of America splits him further, until finally Karsan abdicates his successorship to the eight hundred-year-old throne.

But even as Karsan succeeds in his “ordinary” life—marrying and having a son, becoming a professor in suburban British…[more]

Book:Helpless

Helpless: A Novel

Barbara Gowdy

Fox has the face of an angel, a heart-stopping luminosity that strikes all who meet her. Her single mother, Celia, working at a video store by day and a piano bar by night, is not always around to shield her daughter from the attention—both benign and sinister—that her beauty draws. Attention from model agencies, for example, or from Ron, a small-appliance repairman who, having seen Rachel once, is driven to see her again and again.

When a summer blackout plunges the city into darkness and confusion, Rachel is taken from her home. A full-scale search begins, but days pass with no solid clues, only a phone call Celia receives from a woman whose voice she has heard before but cannot place. And as Celia fights her terror and Rachel starts to trust in her abductor’s kindness, the only other person who knows where she is wavers between loyalty to the captor and saving the child. Will Rachel be found before her abductor’s urge to protect…[more]

Book:Lullabies for Little Criminals

Lullabies for Little Criminals: A novel

Heather O'neill

Lullabies for Little Criminals is the heartbreaking and wholly original debut novel by This American Life contributor Heather O’Neill, about a young girl fighting to preserve her bruised innocence on the feral streets of a big city.

Baby, all of thirteen years old, is lost in the gangly, coltish moment between childhood and the strange pulls and temptations of the adult world. Her mother is dead; her father, Jules, is scarcely more than a child himself, and always on the lookout for his next score. Baby knows that ‘chocolate milk’ is Jules’ slang for heroin, and sees a lot more of that in her house than the real article. But she takes vivid delight in the scrappy bits of happiness and beauty that find their way to her, and moves through the threat of the streets as if she’s been choreographed in a dance.

Soon, though, a hazard emerges that is bigger than even her hard–won survival skills can handle. Alphonse, the local…[more]

Book:Soucouyant

Soucouyant

David Chariandy

A soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore, and a symbol here of the distant and dimly remembered legacies that continue to haunt the Americas. This extraordinary first novel set in Ontario, in a house near the Scarborough Bluffs, focuses on a Canadian-born son who despairingly abandons his Caribbean-born mother suffering from dementia.

The son returns after two years to confront his mother but also a young woman who now mysteriously occupies the house. In his desire to atone for his past and live anew, he is compelled to imagine his mother’s life before it all slips into darkness―her arrival in Canada during the early sixties, her childhood in Trinidad during World War II, and her lurking secret that each have tried to forget.

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