The shortlist for Canada’s biggest prize for fiction, the C$50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, was announced Monday morning in Toronto.
The jurors — Irish author and screenwriter Roddy Doyle; Canadian publisher, writer, and essayist Anna Porter; and American author and satirist Gary Shteyngart — read 142 submissions from 51 publishers in Canada. They selected the five finalists from a long-list of 13 books.
Will Ferguson’s novel 419 (Viking Canada) was praised as a global novel, “at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America…[that] tells us the ways in which we are now bound together and reminds us of the things that will always keep us apart.”
Alix Ohlin’s novel Inside (House of Anansi Press) begins when a woman mistakes a man for a log. It was described by the jury as a novel about people, “that jumps between decades, locations and characters with a precision that makes Ohlin’s hard work seem effortless.
The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler (HarperCollins Canada) revolves around the mystery of Lily Azerov. The novel “shifts through Lily’s past and her daughter, Ruth’s present, interwoven with the perceptions of her whole extended family, as they adjust to the comforts of Montreal” after the horrors of the Holocaust. “A wonderfully nuanced work of fiction by a master of the craft,” the jury citation concluded.
Kim Thúy’s novel Ru, translated by Sheila Fischman, (Random House Canada), is the story of a journey from Viet Nam to Quebec. The jury said “Thúy is a born storytelle, but she rewrites the traditional immigrant narrative in a completely new way.”
Whirl Away, a short story collection by Newfoundland author and journalist Russell Wangersky, was praised as a collection in which “each story stand starkly and wonderfully alone. Some of them carry a very quick thump; others have the scope and extra pages that allow a glimpse at longer lives….They are stories of lives close to breaking, written with great confidence and skill.” A previous collection from Wangersky, The Hour of Bad Decisions, was also long-listed for the Giller. This year’s collection is published by the small house, Thomas Allen Publishers, which also published the 2011 Giller winner Esi Eduygan’s Half-Blood Blues.
The winner will be announced at an Oct. 30 gala, to be broadcast live across Canada on CBC television. Each finalist will receive C$5,000.