Kingston author Iain Reid announced as 2023 Governor General Literary Awards Finalist

October 30, 2023

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC Broadcast Journalist, for the Local Journalism Initiative

Local Kingston author Iain Reid has been announced as a finalist in the prestigious Governor General Literary Awards (GGBooks).

The Canada Council for the Arts is responsible for the annual literature awards, which promote Canadian literature by recognizing the best English and French books in various categories. GGBooks revealed their 2023 shortlist on Wednesday, Oct. 25, which includes 70 books across all 14 categories.

In the release regarding this year’s finalists, it was stated that this year’s selection “covers a range of contemporary social and political issues, in keeping with the evolution of the Canadian literary scene.”

Reid’s third novel, We Spread, was included in the Fiction category for this year’s contenders. Notably, 56 out of the 71 authors are first-time GGBooks finalists, including Reid.  

Reid described his reaction to the designation; 

“Upon receiving the news, I mean, it was downright shocking to be honest. I had no expectations. You know, as I said it's kind of a strange book, it doesn't really fit into any kind of category” he explains, “I'm really grateful that it was recognized in this way. To be included with some other great writers that I admire. And it's just, yeah, really, really unexpected, but really nice.”

We Spread follows Penny, an artist living on her own in the same apartment she has for decades. However, after a fall, Penny finds herself placed in a long term care facility. While her stay begins plain, perhaps even enjoyable, she slowly finds herself growing weary of the facility and questioning her own grip on reality, leading her to question whether she is simply experiencing the effects of old age or if she is caught in something more sinister. The novel explores themes of aging, time, and relationships, ultimately contemplating all that comes with growing old.

Speaking to We Spread, Reid explains, “I was certainly interested in aging, and how our culture reflects or how our culture perceives the values in getting older, or why we are so scared of getting older and dying. I wanted to think more about that, so I kind of used this fictional context to write about it. But I wouldn't sort of put any expectations or demands on what readers are supposed to get from it. I really like the idea that people can make of it what they will.”

The Canada Council for the Arts will reveal the Governor General’s Literary Awards winners on Nov. 8, 2023.

“It feels like with everybody who is nominated, you can't really pick one that's going to be a winner. That's not really how I look at it now,” Reid states with regards to his fellow nominees, “It just feels like we're all in this together and I'm kind of grateful to be in this group. So, it's really nice. And if it brings more people to all of these novels, I think that's a good thing.”