Five Little Indians chosen for the Governor General award in Fiction

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 9:34am


Five Little Indians by Michelle Good is the winner of the 2020 English-language Governor General Literary Award in the Fiction category, the Canada Council for the Arts revealed today.

The book tells the story of five young students at residential school in British Columbia and how their lives cross and crisscross over the decades as they overcome the trauma of their experience at the Mission.

The GGBooks awards go to the best 14 books published in Canada among 70 finalists. There are winners across seven categories, both in English and in French, decided after a rigorous peer assessment process. Each winner receives $25,000, with the publisher receiving $3,000 to promote the winning books. Finalists receive $1,000 each.

Good is a descendant of the Battle River Cree and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. Her great-grandmother was part of the 1885 Frog Lake uprising. Her uncle was Chief Big Bear.

Read our interview with the author here:

In the Drama category, the winner is Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story, by Kim Senklip Harvey. The story is about the largest powwow on the West Coast. It’s an Indigenous matriarchal story which follows two urban Indigenous sisters and a lawless trickster. The author is a member of the Syilx, and Tsilhqot'in Nations with ancestral ties to the Dakelh, Secwepemc and Ktunaxa communities.

About GGBooks:

Founded in 1936, the Governor General’s Literary Awards are one of Canada’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards program, with a total annual prize value of $450,000.

The Canada Council for the Arts has funded, administered and promoted the awards since 1959. 

The winners are selected by the members of peer assessment committees in each of the seven categories in both official languages. The committees assessed eligible books published between September 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, for English-language books and between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, for French-language books.

2020 English-language winners (seven categories):


Five Little Indians – Michelle Good (Kamloops, British Columbia) - Harper Perennial / HarperCollins Canada


Norma Jeane Baker of Troy – Anne Carson (Ann Arbor, Michigan) - New Directions Publishing


Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story – Kim Senklip Harvey (Vancouver, British Columbia) - Talonbooks


This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir in Halves – Madhur Anand (Guelph, Ontario) - Strange Light / Penguin Random House Canada

Young People’s Literature – Text

The King of Jam Sandwiches – Eric Walters (Guelph, Ontario) - Orca Book Publishers

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books 

The Barnabus Project – The Fan Brothers (Toronto, Ontario) - Tundra Books / Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

Translation (from French to English)

If You Hear Me – Translated by Lazer Lederhendler (Montréal, Quebec) - Biblioasis; translation of Si tu m’entends by Pascale Quiviger

2020 French-language winners (seven categories):


Chasse à l’homme – Sophie Létourneau (Québec, Québec) - La Peuplade


La société des cendres suivi de Des lames entières – Martine Audet (Montréal, Quebec) - Éditions du Noroît


Cœur minéral – Martin Bellemare (Montréal, Québec) - Dramaturges Éditeurs


Hantises. Carnet de Frida Burns sur quelques morceaux de vie et de littérature – Frédérique Bernier (Montréal, Québec) - Nota bene, Groupe Nota bene

Young People’s Literature – Text 

Lac Adélard – François Blais (Charette, Québec) - la courte échelle

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books

Pet et Répète : la véritable histoire – Katia Canciani and Guillaume Perreault (Gatineau, Québec / Trois-Rivières, Québec) - Fonfon

Translation (from English to French)

Océan – Translated by Georgette LeBlanc (Moncton, New Brunswick) - Éditions Perce-Neige; translation of Ocean by Sue Goyette