2008 Governor General's Awards
The shortlisted nominees for the 2008 Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit were announced on October 21, and winning titles were announced on November 18. Each winner received a cheque for $25,000 and a copy of their book bound by Montreal bookbinder Lise Dubois.
The Canada Council for the Arts, the award program's administrator, faced some criticism around its nomination of the graphic novel Skim in the Children's Literature category. The nomination was credited to Mariko Tamaki, who wrote the graphic novel's text, but not to her cousin and co-creator Jillian Tamaki, who drew the illustrations.
Two prominent Canadian graphic novelists, Seth and Chester Brown, circulated an open letter to the Canada Council asking them to revise the nomination, arguing that unlike a more traditional illustrated book, a graphic novel's text and illustration are inseparable parts of the work's narrative, and that both women should accordingly be credited as equal co-authors. Their letter was also endorsed by other prominent Canadian and American graphic novelists, including Lynda Barry, Dan Clowes, Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware and Julie Doucet, as well as by Chris Oliveros of Canadian comic and graphic novel publisher Drawn & Quarterly and Peter Birkemore of Toronto comic store The Beguiling.
Melanie Rutledge, a spokesperson for the Canada Council, responded that it was too late to revise the nominations for the 2008 awards, but that the council would take the feedback into account in the future.
The Canada Council later faced controversy over its selection of Jacob Scheier's More to Keep Us Warm. Di Brandt, one of the poetry award's jurors, was credited by Scheier as a friend and mentor in the book's creation, resulting in debate over whether Brandt should have recused herself from the judging panel.
- "Seth and Chester Brown's open letter to the Governor General's Literary Award", National Post, November 13, 2008.
- "Artist left out by awards", Calgary Herald, November 15, 2008.
- "Canada Council won't revisit graphic-novel nod", The Globe and Mail, November 14, 2008.
- André Alexis, "Literary prizes and judgment calls", The Globe and Mail, November 29, 2008.