Govier, Katherine

Katherine Mary Govier (b at Edmonton 4 July 1948). Born and raised in Edmonton, Katherine Govier graduated with her BA Honours in English from the University of Alberta in 1970 and her MA in English from York University in 1972. Govier lived in many cities throughout the world before settling with her husband and two children in Toronto. She often notes, however, how Alberta formed her, with its pragmatism and energy.

From her first novels, Random Descent (1979) and Going Through the Motions (1982), through her career to date, Govier has returned to three central concerns in her fiction: character, place, and history. She says of her own work that it is "rooted in a strongly recognizable place - whether it is Toronto's Brunswick Avenue, or . . . Calgary in the oil boom of the nineteen eighties." Govier insists, however, that her writing "isn't travel writing. My interest is entirely in character. The question is how the character is created and what events flow from a human personality."

Her keen attention to place and characterization, and their interactions, is precisely the quality for which her fiction is admired. Hearts of Flame (1991) was awarded the Toronto Book Award for its evocative portrayal of Toronto, while Between Men (1987) is one of very few novels to put Calgary on the Canadian literary map. Other novels, such as Angel Walk (1996), The Truth Teller (2000), Creation (2002), and Three Views of Crystal Water (2005), examine the borderlines and connections between different geographical spaces, historical periods, and unique personalities. Govier challenges her readers to think beyond the borders of their own historical and geographical experiences and to consider the ways in which time and space create and shape identity.

Govier's eight novels and three short-story collections (The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery (1994), Before and After (1989), and Fables of Brunswick Avenue (1985)) have been published in several languages and have been highly praised throughout Canada, the US, and the UK. The New York Times named Creation a Notable Book for 2003. In 1997, Govier received the Marian Engel Award in recognition of her work and talent as a female Canadian writer in her mid-career.

Govier's interest in how people move into foreign spaces and are changed by travel is also evident in her work as an editor. She has edited two acclaimed collections of travel essays: Solo: Writers on Pilgrimage (2003) and Without a Guide: Contemporary Women's Travel (1994). Both collections consist of a diverse selection of essays, drawn from a wide range of international writers.