Bonnie Burnard’s work quietly, brilliantly celebrated women and their families

March 7, 2017 – We remember, both sadly and with fondness, writer Bonnie Burnard, who has passed away at 72 on March 4, 2017. She was an early friend of the Giller Prize and a firm, quiet presence in Canadian literature with many devoted readers, as well as colleagues appreciative of her mentoring and support.

Writer Bonnie Burnard accepts the Giller Prize at the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto Wednesday Nov. 3, 1999.  Burnard's book, A Good House, beat out four other finalists for the award. (CP Photo/Kevin Van Paassen)

Writer Bonnie Burnard accepts the Giller Prize at the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto Wednesday Nov. 3, 1999. Burnard’s book, A Good House, beat out four other finalists for the award. (CP Photo/Kevin Van Paassen)

Burnard was an important part of the early history of the Giller Prize. Her short story collection Casino and Other Stories was a finalist in 1994, the inaugural year of the prize. She served as a prize juror in 1996 and 1997. Her beloved novel A Good House won the prize in 1999.

“Bonnie Burnard was an incredibly incisive and intuitive writer. Her death is a great loss not just to her family, friends and legions of fans, but to Canadian literature itself,” Scotiabank Giller Prize Executive Director Elana Rabinovitch observed in mourning Burnard’s passing.

Readers, writers and publishers have hastened to praise Burnard’s understated yet powerful work. “An elegant and meticulous writer, her prose was deceptively spare,” said Iris Tupholme, publisher of HarperCollins Canada. “Yet, she understood the complexities of family life and excavated those relationships with precision and compassion. Bonnie was a keen observer of life with a wry sense of humour and a Prairie practicality which informed all of her work.” (The Globe and Mail, March 6, 2017) We’ve gathered links to this piece and other tributes here.

Bonnie Burnard’s Garden: Her Values Began in her Own Backyard by Donna Bailey Nurse

Bonnie Burnard, Giller Prize-winning author, dies at 72 by Mark Medley (The Globe and Mail)

Giller Prize winner Bonnie Burnard was hailed as a master by Mark Medley (The Globe and Mail)

Accomplished London author based her fiction on her Southwestern Ontario roots (London Free Press)

Giller Prize-winning author Bonnie Burnard dead at 72 (CBC Books)

Giller prize winner Bonnie Burnard dead at age 72 (The Canadian Press)