The Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 21st edition!

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The Scotiabank Giller Prize is an award given to excellence in Canadian fiction, as chosen by a small yet award-winning group of jurists. The winner of the Prize, now in its 21th year, receives 100 grand and a whole bunch of publicity. The five finalists will be announced October 6 (the winner November 10), but until then, here is the full list of nominees, a handy list on what’s new to read during our long fall and winter seasons:

Arjun Basu’s Waiting for the Man9781770411777_1

“Joe, a 36-year-old advertising copywriter for a slick New York company, feels disillusioned with his life. He starts dreaming of a mysterious man, seeing him on the street, and hearing his voice. Joe decides to listen to the Man and so he waits on his stoop, day and night, for instructions. A local reporter takes notice, and soon Joe has become a story, a media sensation, the centre of a storm. When the Man tells Joe to “go west,” he does, in search of meaning.” (ECW Press)

bezmozgis-betrayersDavid Bezmozgis’ The Betrayers

“These incandescent pages give us one momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the West Bank settlements, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior. He and the fierce young Leora flee the scandal for Yalta, where he comes face to face with the former friend who denounced him to the KGB almost forty years earlier.” (HarperCollinsCanada)

galchen-americanRivka Galchen’s American Innovations

“In one of the intensely imaginative stories in Galchen’s American Innovations, a young woman’s furniture walks out on her. In another, the narrator feels compelled to promise to deliver a takeout order that has incorrectly been phoned to her. In a third, the petty details of a property transaction illuminate the complicated pains and loves of a family. The tales in this groundbreaking collection are secretly in conversation with canonical stories, reimagined from the perspective of female characters.” (Macmillan)

itani-tellFrances Itani’s Tell

“In 1919, only months after the end of the Great War, the men and women of Deseronto struggle to recover from wounds of the past, both visible and hidden. Kenan, a young soldier who has returned from the war damaged and disfigured, confines himself to his small house on the Bay of Quinte, wandering outside only under the cover of night. His wife, Tress, attempting to adjust to the trauma that overwhelms her husband and which has changed their marriage, seeks advice from her Aunt Maggie. Maggie, along with her husband, Am, who cares for the town clock tower, have their own sorrows, which lie unacknowledged between them… As the decade draws to a close and the lives of these beautifully-drawn characters become more entwined, each of them must decide what to share and what to hide… [Itani] shows us how, ultimately, the very secrets we bury to protect ourselves can also be the cause of our undoing.” (HarperCollinsCanada)

lovegrove-watchJennifer Lovegrove’s Watch How We Walk

“Alternating between a woman’s childhood in a small town and as an adult in the city, this novel traces a Jehovah Witness family’s splintering belief system, their isolation, and the erosion of their relationships. As Emily becomes closer to her closeted Uncle Tyler, she begins to challenge her upbringing. Her questions about the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ insular lifestyle, rigid codes of conduct, and tenets of their faith haunt her older sister Lenora too. When Lenora disappears, everything changes and Emily becomes obsessed with taking on her sister’s identity, believing that Lenora is controlling her actions… The narrative offers a haunting, cutting exploration of the Jehovah’s Witness practice and practical impact of “disfellowshipping,” proselytization, and cultural abstinence, as well as their attitude toward the ‘worldlings’ outside of their faith.” (Amazon.ca)

michaels-conductorsSean Michaels’ Us Conductors

“In a finely woven series of flashbacks and correspondence, Lev Termen, the Russian scientist, inventor, and spy, tells the story of his life to his ‘one true love,’ Clara Rockmore, the finest theremin player in the world… Us Conductors is steeped in beauty, wonder, and looping heartbreak, a sublime debut that inhabits the idea of invention on every level.” (GoodReads)

mootoo-crabShani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

“Written in vibrant, supple prose that vividly conjures both the tropical landscape of Trinidad and the muted winter cityscape of Toronto, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab is a passionate eulogy to a beloved parent, and a nuanced, moving tale about the struggle to embrace the complex realities of love and family ties.” (GoodReads)

oneill-saturdayHeather O’Neil’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

“Nineteen years old, free of prospects, and inescapably famous, the twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are trying to outrun the notoriety of their father, a French-Canadian Serge Gainsbourg with a genius for the absurd and for winding up in prison….With all the wit and poignancy that made Baby such a beloved character in Lullabies for Little Criminals, O’Neill writes of an unusual family and what binds them together and tears them apart. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is classic, unforgettable Heather O’Neill.” (HarperCollinsCanada)

page-paradiseKathy Page’s Paradise and Elsewhere

“The rubble of an ancient civilization. A village in a valley from which no one comes or goes. A forest of mother-trees, whispering to each other through their roots; a lakeside lighthouse where a girl slips into human skin as lightly as an otter into water; a desert settlement where there was no conflict, before she came; or the town of Wantwick, ruled by a soothsayer, where tourists lose everything they have. These are the places where things begin… Paradise and Elsewhere is a collection of dark tables at once familiar and entirely strange, join Kathy Page as she notches a new path through the wild, lush, half-fantastic and half-real terrain of fairy tale and myth.” (Amazon.ca)

rothman-october Claire Holden Rothman’s My October

“My October examines issues of history, language, and cultural identity amid the ethnic and linguistic diversity of today’s Montreal. Inspired in part by two real-life figures from Quebec’s past – James Richard Cross, the British diplomat who was held captive by FLQ terrorists, and Jacques Lanctôt, the man who was Cross’s captor – this is also a story about the province’s turbulent history and ever-shifting role within the country at whose heart it lies.” (Facebook)

toews-punyMiriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.” (Amazon.ca)

viswanathan-raoPadma Viswanathan’s The Ever After of Ashwin Rao

“In 2004, almost 20 years after the fatal bombing of an Air India flight from Vancouver, 2 suspects-finally- are on trial for the crime. Ashwin Rao, an Indian psychologist trained in Canada, comes back to do a “study of comparative grief,” interviewing people who lost loved ones in the attack. What he neglects to mention is that he, too, had family members who died on the plane. Then, to his delight and fear, he becomes embroiled in the lives of one family caught in the undertow of the tragedy, and privy to their secrets. This surprising emotional connection sparks him to confront his own losses. The Ever After of Ashwin Rao imagines the lasting emotional and political consequences of a real-life act of terror, confronting what we might learn to live with and what we can live without.” (Amazon.ca)

(Visit cbc.ca/books for retrospective coverage of the Giller Prize’s past two decades.)

– Lyle

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