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Hage, Toews among finalists for Governor General's Literary Awards

Author Rawi Hage poses in Toronto on Aug. 28, 2018, as he promotes his new novel "Beirut Hellfire Society." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Acclaimed novelists Rawi Hage and Miriam Toews are among the finalists for this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards.

Montreal-based Hage made the cut in the fiction category for “Beirut Hellfire Society” (Knopf Canada), which is also a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

The book features the son of an undertaker in war-torn Beirut in 1978.

Toronto-based Toews, who won the Governor General’s prize in 2004 for “A Complicated Kindness,” is in the running this time for “Women Talking” (Knopf Canada).

Toews’ novel is based on the real-life rapes of women in a remote Mennonite community in Bolivia.

Other fiction finalists for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Awards include Calgary’s Joshua Whitehead for “Jonny Appleseed” (Arsenal Pulp Press), Sarah Henstra of Toronto with “The Red Word” (ECW Press), and Montreal’s Paige Cooper for the short story collection “Zolitude” (Biblioasis).

In the non-fiction category, finalists include Terese Marie Mailhot of Seabird Island, B.C., for “Heart Berries: A Memoir” (Doubleday Canada), which also made the short list for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

The non-fiction contenders also include “Dead Reckoning: How I Came to Meet the Man Who Murdered My Father” (Arsenal Pulp Press) by Carys Cragg of Port Coquitlam, B.C., and “Homes: A Refugee Story” (Freehand Books) by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung of Edmonton.

Also making the cut is “Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age” (Douglas & McIntyre) by Darrel J. McLeod of Sooke, B.C., and “The Wife’s Tale: A Personal History” (Knopf Canada) by Aida Edemariam of Oxford, England.

A total of 70 Canadian books in seven categories are up for this year’s awards, which are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts and honour titles in both English and French.

The poetry short list comprises: “Because: A Lyric Memoir” (W.W. Norton & Company) by Joshua Mensch of Prague; Winnipeg’s Jason Stefanik for “Night Became Years” (Coach House Books); “The Blue Clerk” (McClelland & Stewart) by Toronto’s Dionne Brand; “This Wound is a World” (Frontenac House) by Billy-Ray Belcourt of Edmonton; and Cecily Nicholson of Burnaby, B.C., for “Wayside Sang” (Talonbooks).

Peer assessment committees chose the finalists from close to 1,400 titles submitted for consideration.

The awards hand out a total annual prize value of $450,000.

Each winner receives $25,000, while the publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Non-winning finalists each receive $1,000.