Ottawa’s Jordan Tannahill wins GG literary award for drama

Ottawa's Jordan Tannahill. Photo: Jean-Louis Fernandez

Ottawa’s theatre wunderkind Jordan Tannahill has won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English Drama for his collection Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom.

Tannahill, who lives in the United Kingdom these days, is currently finishing work on a Virtual Reality theatre piece called Draw Me Close which will premiere at the Young Vic Theatre in London in January. The piece is a co-production with the National Film Board and the National Theatre of London. An earlier version was seen at the recent Venice Biennale.

Tannahill is active in a wide range of artistic endeavours including film and writing for dance. His text is featured in the Akram Khan Company production of Xenos which was recently at the National Arts Centre. He has also written a first novel called Liminal.

Tannahill has previously won a GG for Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays in 2014. And his script Concord Floral was a finalist in 2016. Botticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom jointly won the 2016 Toronto’s Theatre Critics Award for Best New Canadian Play.

Tannahill joins Sarah Henstra who won the award for English fiction for her first novel The Red Word (ECW Press) a murky and twisted story about sexual assault on a college campus.

The winner for English nonfiction is Darrel J. McLeod for Mamaskatch a memoir of growing up Cree in Canada;

• English Poetry winner is Cecily Nicholson for her collection Wayside Sang;

Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep won for young people’s literature — text;

Jillian Tamaki won the award for young people’s literature — illustrated books for They Say Blue;

The translation award went to Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott for Descent into Night. It was translated from the original French by Edem Awumey.

The winners will be in Ottawa on Nov. 29 to read from and sign their books.

The awards honour seven English-language and seven French-language books across several categories each year. Each winner receives $25,000.


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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.