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Tainna, by Norma Dunning, Wins GG Literary Award for Fiction

Tainna, by Norma Dunning, Wins GG Literary Award for Fiction

Douglas & McIntyre would like to congratulate Norma Dunning, whose book, Tainna: The Unseen Ones, has won the  2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.

Tainna (pronounced Da-enna) is a collection of short stories that, as Norma Dunning writes, “is an honouring to all Inuit who live outside of their land claims areas and who face modern-day life with humour and tenacity and with the strength of the giants that we are.”

The six stories in this powerful collection centre on Inuit experiences in the Canadian South. Ranging from spiritual to jaded, from homeless to extravagantly wealthy, from young to elderly, and even from alive to deceased, these characters are united by shared feelings of alienation, displacement and loneliness. And they must rely on their wits, artistic talent, senses of humour and spirituality for survival.

When asked why she wrote Tainna, Norma Dunning replied:

“I receive a great many highly racial comments when I identify and at times I can find it all very ridiculous while also very sad. Unfortunately, Inuit are often thought of as a somewhat happy yet simple people but we are brilliant and sophisticated. Inuit women remain exoticized and at the same time treated as less-than which eliminates all of our hard work and successes. When I wrote Tainna I was thinking about the many thousands of Inuit Canadians who live beyond the tundra and the reactions that are issued to us daily and how very wrong it all is. I was also thinking of poverty and the very dark side of southern life which is rarely exposed. I thought it was time to bring that reality forward.”

Dr. Norma Dunning is a writer as well as a scholar, researcher, professor, and grandmother who lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Her first book, the short story collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories (University of Alberta Press, 2017), received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story and the Bronze for short stories in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. She is also the author of Eskimo Pie (Bookland Press, 2020), a bestselling collection of poetry.

The Governor General’s Literary Awards (#GGBooks) are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. They recognize Canada’s best English-language and French-language books in seven categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Drama, Young People’s Literature – Text, Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books and Translation. Books published by independent presses dominated the finalist lists this year. The other finalists in the fiction category are: Joe Ollmann for Fictional Father (Drawn & Quarterly); G. A. Grisenthwaite for Home Waltz (Palimpsest Press); Rachel Cusk for Second Place (Harper Perennial / HarperCollins Canada); and Sheung-King for You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked. (Book*hug Press). All the 2021 #GGBooks winners will be announced on November 17, 2021. More information can be found at