Annal: 2013 Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction

Results of the Governor General's Literary Award in the year 2013.

Book:Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page

Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page

Sandra Djwa

Journey with No Maps is the first biography of P.K. Page, a brilliant twentieth-century poet and a fine artist. The product of over a decade’s research and writing, the book follows Page as she becomes one of Canada’s best-loved and most influential writers. “A borderline being,” as she called herself, she recognized the new choices offered to women by modern life but followed only those related to her quest for self-discovery. Tracing Page’s life through two wars, world travels, the rise of modernist and Canadian cultures, and later Sufi study, biographer Sandra Djwa details the people and events that inspired her work. Page’s independent spirit propelled her from Canada to England, from work as a radio actress to a scriptwriter for the National Film Board, from an affair with poet F.R. Scott to an enduring marriage with diplomat Arthur Irwin. Page wrote her story in poems, fiction, diaries, librettos, and her visual art. …[more]

Book:The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty

The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty

Nina Munk

A powerful portrayal of Jeffrey Sachs’s ambitious quest to end global poverty

 “The poor you will always have with you,” to cite the Gospel of Matthew 26:11. Jeffrey Sachs—celebrated economist, special advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and author of the influential bestseller The End of Poverty—disagrees.  In his view, poverty is a problem that can be solved. With single-minded determination he has attempted to put into practice his theories about ending extreme poverty, to prove that the world’s most destitute people can be lifted onto “the ladder of development.”

In 2006, Sachs launched the Millennium Villages Project, a daring five-year experiment designed to test his theories in Africa. The first Millennium village was in Sauri, a remote cluster of farming communities in western Kenya. The initial results…[more]

Book:The Juggler's Children

The Juggler's Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us

Carolyn Abraham

Carolyn Abraham explores the stunning power and ethical pitfalls of using genetic tests to answer questions of genealogy—by cracking the genome of her own family.

Recently, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to mail-order DNA tests to learn about their family roots. Abraham investigates whether this burgeoning new science can help solve 2 mysteries that have haunted her multi-racial family for more than a century. Both hinge on her enigmatic great-grandfathers—a hero who died young and a scoundrel who disappeared. Can the DNA they left behind reveal their stories from beyond the grave?

Armed with DNA kits, Abraham criss-crosses the globe, taking cells from relatives and strangers, a genetic journey that turns up far more than she bargained for—ugly truths and moral quandaries. With lively writing and a compelling personal narrative, The Juggler’s Children tackles profound questions around the genetics of identity, race and humanity, and tells a big story about our small world, with vivid proof that genes bind us all to the branches of one family tree.

Book:The Memory of Water

The Memory of Water

Allen Smutylo

Over the last forty years, Canadian adventurer, writer, and artist Allen Smutylo has experienced some of the wildest and most captivating waters imaginable in all corners of the globe. The stories in The Memory of Water—all of them accompanied by the author’s own stunning artwork—describe his adventures in the Arctic, South Pacific, Great Lakes region, and India.

In the Arctic he is attacked by a polar bear, stalked by a rogue walrus, and nearly drowns in ferocious waters. But his Arctic stories also celebrate human creativity as they recount the life of the pre-Inuit people, who, hunting in a changing environment, endured many hardships and developed new technologies, such as the sea kayak, to cope.

Other stories include an account of a sojourn in a small Georgian Bay fishing village as a young artist, an adventure on an urban river in southwestern Ontario, and a portrayal of the complex underwater world of the South Pacific. Travelling the River…[more]

Book:Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother

Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother

Priscila Uppal

In 1977, Priscila Uppal’s father swallowed contaminated water in Antigua, and within 48 hours was a quadriplegic. Priscila was two years old. Five years later, her mother, Theresa, drained the bank accounts, including those of her two children, and disappeared to Brazil. After attempting to abduct her children twice, Priscila’s mother had no further contact with the family.

Twenty years later, Priscila happened upon the website of a well-known Brazilian film critic, who turned out to be her estranged mother and, a few weeks later, she summoned the nerve to contact the woman who’d abandoned her as a child. After a few awkward phone calls and e-mails, a trip was arranged.

Projection is the story of this mother-daughter meeting in the exotic country of Brazil; of how two strangers spent ten days together trying to build a relationship, connected only by blood and a love of the movies. Their intensely emotional…[more]

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