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Dr. Sarah Henstra's Book wins Governor General Award

'The Red Word' wins Canada's oldest literary award
April 11, 2019

Sarah Henstra is an English professor at Ryerson and author of titles such as Mad Miss Mimic and The Red Word. Out of 250 eligible Canadian titles for 2018, The Red Word won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for English Fiction. This is Canada’s oldest literary award, given in categories of fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translation.

Henstra says, “I was thrilled to be on the short list and absolutely delighted (and surprised) to win, as The Red Word is my first novel for adults and the book was up against titles by much more experienced authors. It’s a huge affirmation of my creative practice, to have my work recognized and to know that readers connect with it.”

Receiving a plethora of praise, The Red Word is a compelling read that evokes conversations on the topics of consent, the male gaze, gender wars, the birth of third wave feminism, and rape culture. Henstra does not offer easy answers in this campus-based story where the politics of polarized camps come to light as a radical feminist group looks for ways to expose a fraternity that symbolizes rape culture. Being acknowledged for this award is significant because it "signals that Canadians are hungry for challenging, complex stories that reflect the experiences of young people of both genders today."