By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Canada’s Richest Prize in Literature
Notable among major Canadian prizes announcements, the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2017 longlist features five of 12 titles, five of which were published by Canadian-owned publishers and 7 by multinational companies.
In its information for the press on Monday (September 18), last year’s winner—Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing—is reported to have read out the longlist titles at an event in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The program’s shortlist is to be announced on October 2 in Toronto, and the winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize will be named on November 20 during a live telecast on CBC.
Founded in 1994 in honor of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband, Jack Rabinovitch, the Giller Prize purse has grown several times during its association with Scotiabank to its current level of CAD $100,000 (US$81,400) and can be given either for a novel or short story collection. Each finalist receives $10,000.
The 12 longlisted books were chosen, the prize reports, from a total 112 submitted by 72 publisher-imprints in the Canadian industry.
The issue of Canadian-owned independent publishers and major international publishing companies is quite sensitive in the industry of Canada. Many in the business there feel that it’s challenging for the Canadian publishing to compete with its close neighbor, the American market.
The five Canadian houses represented in the newly announced Giller Prize list are:
- ChiZine Publications
- Biblioasis International Translation Series
- Esplanade Books, an imprint of Québec’s Véhicule Press
- House of Anansi Press
- Invisible Publishing
Of the remaining seven titles on the longlist, five are companies of Penguin Random House and two are HarperCollins companies. McClelland & Stewart is sometimes thought of as a Canadian house because it was established as such. It actually has been owned by Random House of Canada since 2011.
The full longlist is as follows:
- David Chariandy for his novel Brother, published by McClelland & Stewart
- Rachel Cusk for her novel Transit, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
- David Demchuk for his novel The Bone Mother, published by ChiZine Publications
- Joel Thomas Hynes for his novel We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, published by HarperPerennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
- Andrée A. Michaud for her novel Boundary, published by Biblioasis International Translation Series, translated by Donald Winkler
- Josip Novakovich for his story collection Tumbleweed, published by Esplanade Books/Véhicule Press
- Ed O’Loughlin for his novel Minds of Winter, published by House of Anansi Press
- Zoey Leigh Peterson for her novel Next Year, For Sure, published by Doubleday Canada
- Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square, published by Doubleday Canada
- Eden Robinson for her novel Son of a Trickster, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada
- Deborah Willis for her story collection The Dark and Other Love Stories, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada
- Michelle Winters for her novel I Am a Truck, published by Invisible Publishing
‘The Exceptional’ as a Trend
In a prepared statement offered by the jury, we read that 2017 “was an intriguing year for Canadian fiction.
“As with any year, there were trends, themes that ran through any number of books: the plight of the marginalized, the ongoing influence of history on the present, the way it feels to grow up in our country, the way the world looks to the psychologically damaged.
“But 2017 was also a year of outliers, of books that were eccentric, challenging or thrillingly strange, books that took us to amusing or disturbing places. In fact, you could say that the exceptional was one of 2017’s trends. It gave the impression of a world in transition: searching inward as much as outward, wary but engaged.”
This year’s jury comprises five particularly strong writers:
- Trinidad-born Canadian author André Alexis, a former Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, and twice shortlisted
- India-born Québec-based author Anita Rau Badami, an Orange Prize and IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominee
- English author and university instructor Richard Beard
- Canadian author Lynn Coady, a former Scotiabank Giller Prize winner
- American novelist and short story writer Nathan Englander, a Pulitzer finalist
Our thanks to Vancouver-based consultant and author Thad McIlroy for his assistance in bringing the longlist announcement to our attention.