University of Guelph English professor emeritus Thomas King has won a prestigious Governor General’s literary award for his novel The Back of the Turtle.

The winners were announced today by the Canada Council for the Arts. Finalists were named in 14 categories; King won in the English-language fiction category and receives a $25,000 prize.

The Back of the Turtle is King’s first novel in more than 15 years. The fictional work examines a community trying to recover from an environmental disaster caused by an unscrupulous company.

A writer and broadcaster and the first aboriginal Massey lecturer, King is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected authors. This was his third appearance on the shortlist for the Governor General’s award.

Earlier this year, King won the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize, one of the most highly regarded awards in Canadian literature, for his non-fiction book The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. That book also received the $40,000 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and was nominated for the $60,000 Hilary Weston Prize.

King has also received a Trillium Book Award — Ontario’s premier prize for literary excellence — for The Truth About Stories, published from his Canada Massey lectures.

He has won the Canadian Authors’ Award for fiction and the American Indian Film Festival Best Screenplay award for Medicine River. He received the Aboriginal Media Arts Radio Award for Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, a popular CBC Radio show he starred in and created.

He received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture in 2003 and was named to the Order of Canada in 2004.

King joined U of G in 1995 and retired from the School of English and Theatre Studies in 2011.