Canada’s “Scotiabank Giller Prize” awards a whopping $100,000 to its annual winner, in addition to $10,000 a piece to the other 4 shortlisted authors.
This shortlist is a rare feat for Canada’s boutique, independent presses: 3 of 5 titles are from small hosues: 1 from Coach House and 2 from Biblioasis.
Andre Alexis: Fifteen Dogs (Novel; Coach House Books)
“And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks. André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness.”
Samuel Archibald: Arvida (Stories; Biblioasis)
“Like a Proust-obsessed Cormac McCarthy, Samuel Archibald’s portrait of his hometown is filled with innocent children and wild beasts, attempted murder and ritual mutilation, haunted houses and road trips to nowhere, bad men and mysterious women. Gothic, fantastical, and incandescent, filled with stories of everyday wonder and terror, longing and love, Arvida explores the line which separates memory from story, and heralds the arrival of an important new voice.”
Rachel Cusk: Outline (Novel; Harper Perennial)
“Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming with an elderly Greek bachelor. The people she encounters speak, volubly, about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss. Outline is Rachel Cusk’s finest work yet, and one of the most startling, brilliant and original novels of recent years.”
Heather O’Neill: Daydreams of Angels (Stories; HarperCollins)
“Heather O’Neill’s distinctive style and voice fill these charming, sometimes dark, always beguiling stories. From “The Robot Baby,” in which we discover what happens when a robot feels emotion for the very first time, to “Heaven,” about a grandfather who died for a few minutes when he was nine and visited the pearly gates, to “The Little Wolf-Boy of Northern Quebec,” in which untamed children run wild through the streets of Paris, to “Dolls,” in which a little girl’s forgotten dolls tell their own stories of woe and neglect, we are immersed in utterly unique worlds. Also included in the collection is “The End of Pinky,” which has been made into short film by the NFB. With this collection, Heather O’Neill showcases her diversity and skill as a writer and draws us in with each page.”
Anakana Schofield: Martin John (Novel; Biblioasis)
“Martin John’s mam says that she is glad he is done with it. But is Martin John done with it? He says he wants it to stop, his mother wants it to stop, we all want it to stop. But is it really what Martin John wants? He had it in his mind to do it and he did it. Harm was done when he did it. Harm would continue to be done. Who will stop Martin John? Will you stop him? Should she stop him? From Anakana Schofield, the brilliant author of the best-selling Malarky, comes a darkly comic novel circuiting through the mind, motivations and preoccupations of a character many women have experienced but few have understood quite so well. The result confirms Schofield as one of the bravest and most innovative authors at work in English today. The Globe and Mail called it ‘The novel all your favourite novelists will be reading.'”
This year’s jury was: Irish author John Boyne, Canadian writers Cecil Foster, Alexander MacLeod, and Alison Pick, and British author Helen Oyeyemi. Interestingly, Heather O’Neill was longlisted just last year, for a novel called The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
Check out the glitzy, glamourous award gala on November 10th, on CBC-TV, hosted by our very own Rick Mercer.
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