Early on Wednesday morning, the Canada Council for the Arts released the lists of finalists for the Governor General’s Awards. Two exceptional novels by first-time authors, Michael Kaan’s The Water Beetles and Jocelyn Parr’s Uncertain Weights and Measures, appear on the shortlist for the highly contested Award for Fiction. Both are published by Goose Lane Editions.
First published in April 2017, Michael Kaan’s The Water Beetles is “a literary high wire act” (Toronto Star) set in China following the Japanese invasion. Loosely based on the diaries and stories of the author’s father, this mesmerizing tale vividly captures the horror of war through the eyes of a child with unsettling and unerring grace. The Georgia Straight has described it as “a work of lasting power.”
Uncertain Weights and Measures, first published in September 2017, takes place in the heady days of post-Revolution Russia. Montreal writer Jocelyn Parr vividly captures the atmosphere of 1920s Moscow and the frisson of real-life events while also spinning a captivating tale of a love torn apart by ideology and high-stakes politics in this deftly written novel. Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels marvelled at Parr’s characters that “seem to move under the surface of the page—breathing, changing, flawed, and resilient.”
Both novels were acquired and edited by Goose Lane’s fiction editor Bethany Gibson.
Kaan and Parr will be reading from their novels at a special evening devoted to the finalists for the Governor General’s Award of Fiction on Monday, October 23, at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto during the International Festival of Authors. Other writers whose books also appear on the shortlist for the fiction award include Alison MacLeod, author of All the Beloved Ghosts (Penguin Canada), Kathleen Winter, author of Lost in September (Knopf Canada), and Joel Thomas Hynes, author of We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night (HarperCollins Canada).
The winners of the Governor General’s Awards will be announced in Ottawa on November 1. The awards will be presented at a ceremony at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General, on November 29.