Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize Names Its 2020 Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

The literary awards program and its sponsor, both based in Toronto, have announced their 2020 shortlist today, with the winner to receive more than US$75,000.

In Toronto, home base to both the Giller Foundation and Scotiabank. Image – iStockphoto: RM Nunes

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Winner Announcement: November 9
Nown in its 27th awards cycle, the Scotiabank Giller Prize has announced its 2020 shortlist today (October 5), a group of five Canadian authors—one of them very familiar far beyond the Canadian market. The prize is a presentation of the Toronto-based Giller Foundation, with the sponsorship of Scotiabank.

Emily St. John Mandel was a finalist for the National Book Award and for a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award—and winner of the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award—for her broadly influential Station Eleven, which featured a world dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic. That book, published by Knopf, now has been translated into at least 33 languages.

Based in New York City and easily one of the best known of Canadian-born authors today, Mandel now is shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller for her March release, The Glass Hotel, a work classified as both literary fiction and crime mystery by Penguin Random House. (We have used the US publisher’s link here. In the shortlistings below, we use the HarperCollins Canada listing for the book.)

The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually (US$75,324) for the author of the winning novel, short story collection, or graphic novel published in English. There’s also a $10,000 (US$7,534) cash award for each of the finalists.

A winner is to be announced on November 9 in an event that’s to feature the Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall, an event presented commercial-free by Scotia Wealth Management through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). That broadcast is set for 9 p.m. ET (0200 GMT) on CBC’s television feeds and its CBC Gem streaming service. A live stream will also be on CBC Books, and a broadcast special will air on CBC Radio One and the free CBC Listen App.

There’s also a program of readings and discussion with the shortlisted authors set for November 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET (1230 November 3 GMT), and that stream will be live here.

Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020 Shortlist

  • Gil Adamson, for her novel Ridgerunner (House of Anansi Press)
  • David Bergen, for his short story collection, Here the Dark (Biblioasis)
  • Shani Mootoo, for her novel Polar Vortex (Book*hug Press)
  • Emily St. John Mandel, for her novel The Glass Hotel (HarperCollins)
  • Souvankham Thammavongsa, for her short story collection How To Pronounce Knife (Penguin Random House Canada/McClelland & Stewart)

This year’s jury for the prize comprises Canadian authors Mark Sakamoto (chair), Eden Robinson, and David Chariandy. Canadian British novelist Tom Rachman and the literary critic for the Guardian, Claire Armitstead, narrowed down the 118 submitted works to 14 to create the longlist and today announced the five shortlisted authors.

Elana Rabinovitch

In a prepared statement, the director of the Scotiabank Giller Prize program, Elana Rabinovitch, is quoted, saying, “Nowhere is the need for reflections on the human condition more pressing than now.

“This year’s shortlist is bursting with stories of belonging, relationships, dislocation, economic ruin, and rites of passage. 2020 will go down in history not just as the year of COVID but the year Canadian writers hit their literary stride.”

The prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch and has had Scotiabank’s backing since 2005.

The 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlisted books are available in accessible format for print-disabled Canadians through the National Network for Equitable Library Service NNELS and the Centre for Equitable Library Access CELA.

Today’s shortlist announcement video is embedded below.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here. More from us on the Canadian market is here, and more on the Scotiabank Giller Prize is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.