Readersforum's Blog

October 8, 2013

Governor General Literary Award finalists announced (updated)

Canadian Man Booker Prize contender Eleanor Catton is in the running for another prestigious honour

“The Lion Seeker”By Victoria Ahearn

When South African-raised, Toronto-based writer Kenneth Bonert first tackled fiction, he experimented with many different styles, including fantastical, allegorical short stories in the style of Kafka.

“But they weren’t very good,” admits the 41-year-old, who’s also worked as a journalist. “And when I started to write realistic, real fiction, the voices that were the strongest for me — the characters that I heard, the people that I knew — were the ones from my childhood.”

Bonert’s instincts have paid off.

On Wednesday, his ambitious debut novel, “The Lion Seeker” — about a young Jewish man who immigrates to Johannesburg from a small village in Lithuania before the Second World War — made the short list for a $25,000 Governor General’s Literary Award.

The Johannesburg-bred Bonert says the novel is partly inspired by the stories his Jewish grandmother used to tell him in Yiddish of her childhood village in Lithuania.

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