Governor General's Literary Awards

About the Governor General’s Literary Awards

The Canada Council for the Arts is responsible for administering and promoting the Governor General’s Literary Awards, which recognize Canada’s best English and French books in 7 categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature – Text, Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books and Translation (from French to English and vice-versa). The awards promote Canadian literature, and encourage Canadians to read. They provide valuable recognition to finalists and winners from peers and readers across the country. Join the club! Read Great Books!

History of the Awards

The Governor General’s Literary Awards (known today as the Canada Council’s GGBooks) were established in 1936 at the initiative of Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir and the Canadian Authors Association. In 1959, the awards joined the Canada Council for the Arts’ family of prizes, and the Council has since assumed responsibility for funding, administering and promoting these awards.

The Canada Council’s GGBooks have proudly celebrated Canadian literature from its earliest days, through its subsequent development and international renown. Hundreds of Canadian writers, illustrators and translators have been honoured as both winners and finalists. Among the winning titles are some of the most defining books of our time, including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Réjean Ducharme’s L’avalée des avalés and Kim Thúy’s Ru .

The Canada Council awards $25,000 to the writers, illustrators and translators of the winning books and $3,000 to their publishers, as well as $1,000 to each of the finalists.

Today, the GGBooks continue to play an important role in the ongoing recognition of Canada’s diverse and unique literary landscape. The Canada Council promotes the finalist and winners to connect Canadians—and audiences around the world—with these great books.

Special Thanks

The Canada Council for the Arts thanks the Governor General of Canada for hosting the award ceremony at Rideau Hall, the official residence and workplace of the Governor General, for a celebration of the winners.

The Canada Council for the Arts also thanks the Parliamentary Librarian and the Speaker of the House of Commons for welcoming the winners to Parliament Hill with recognition in the House of Commons and a special tour of Canada’s Library of Parliament.

Peer assessment: at the heart of recognizing greatness

Peer assessment is the foundation of the Canada Council’s decision-making process. Peer assessment committees review all eligible titles in each of 7 categories. Each committee chooses a winner, and up to 4 more books as finalists. A list of peer assessors (PDF 229 Ko) is available.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards have been recognizing great books since 1936. See the list of all winners and finalists.

How to Enter

Books must be submitted by an eligible publisher. Since the awards recognize artistic and literary excellence, publishers must select only works they consider outstanding. Read the guidelines to learn more about the eligibility requirements.

Submit a book

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