The 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced its shortlist on Monday, October 6, 2014, derived from a longlist of 12 books. The jury read an astonishing 161 works of fiction this year, submitted by 63 publishers from every region of the country. In the 21st year of the prize, the jury features Canadian author Shauna Singh Baldwin, British novelist Justin Cartwright, and American writer Francine Prose.
Beginning this year, the prize purse doubles, with $100,000 going to the winner and $10,000 to each finalist, making the Scotiabank Giller Prize the richest fiction prize in Canada. The Scotiabank Giller Prize is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.
The shortlisted finalists for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize are as follows:
Excerpted from THE BETRAYERS by David Bezmozgis. Copyright © 2014 by Nada Films, Inc. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The extraordinary feat of David Bezmozgis’s fine novel is to have captured in one day a whole universe of betrayal and morality. There are two betrayers in the story; the first is Baruch Kotler, an elderly and well-known figure in Israel, who has betrayed his wife by taking his much younger lover on a sentimental journey to Crimea. He was betrayed in Russia forty years ago by a KGB agent, himself Jewish. David Bezmozgis has a dazzling talent, is the possessor of that rarest of skills – the ability to create fiction which is intensely serious but which also vividly encompasses the absurdity and comedy of life.
David Bezmozgis moved from Latvia to Canada at the age of six. He studied English literature at McGill University and fine arts at the Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Natasha and Other Stories, his debut collection, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Canada and Caribbean region), the Canadian Jewish Book Award, and the Toronto Book Award; was a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and CBC’s Canada Reads; and is being made into a feature film. His first novel, The Free World, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award, and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and the Trillium Book Award. In 2010, Bezmozgis was named one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” writers. He lives in Toronto.
How did David Bezmozgis find out his book The Betrayers was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
Excerpted from TELL by Frances Itani. Copyright ©2014 by Itani Writes Inc. Excerpt reproduced with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Every word feels simple, right, and natural in Frances Itani’s Tell. You’re slowly immersed in the mystery: Who gave up a baby for adoption, and why? Itani peels back time to show us Kenan, a damaged and disfigured WWI soldier readjusting to life in Ontario, and his marriage to Tress. Itani inhabits many voices with ease, pathos and humour. Her choice of details expertly builds our understanding of her characters’ times, foibles and moral choices, and she connects them in a hugely satisfying ending. Tell is a treasure: serious with humorous moments, potent and controlled, subtle yet deeply moving.
Frances Itani has written sixteen books. Her novels include Requiem, chosen by the Washington Post as one of the top fiction titles for 2012; Remembering the Bones, published internationally and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; and the #1 bestseller Deafening, which won a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, selected for CBC’s Canada Reads and published in seventeen territories. A Member of the Order of Canada and a three-time winner of the CBC Literary Award, Itani lives in Ottawa.
How did Frances Itani get the good news that her novel Tell was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
Excerpted from US CONDUCTORS by Sean Michaels. Copyright © 2014 Sean Michaels. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Michaels’s book is based on the life of Lev Thermen, the Russian-born inventor of the Theremin, the most ethereal of musical instruments. As the narrative shifts countries and climates, from the glittery brightness of New York in the 1920s to the leaden cold of the Soviet Union under Stalin, the grace of Michaels’s style makes these times and places seem entirely new. He succeeds at one of the hardest things a writer can do: he makes music seem to sing from the pages of a novel.
Sean Michaels was born in Stirling, Scotland, in 1982. Raised in Ottawa, he eventually settled in Montreal, founding Said the Gramophone, one of the earliest music blogs. He has since spent time in Edinburgh and Kraków, written for the Guardian and McSweeney’s, toured with rock bands, searched the Parisian catacombs for Les UX, and received two National Magazine Awards.
What was Sean Michaels’ reaction when he heard that his novel Us Conductors was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
Excerpted from THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT by Heather O’Neill. Copyright © 2014 by Heather O’Neill. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night describes what it is like to be young and to have a lifetime of experience and grief already behind you. Even as it gives us a cast of vibrant, funny, tragic, sharply drawn characters, O’Neill broadens her focus to portray the political climate in Quebec at the time of the 1995 referendum and to give us a sense of why, in the words of her narrator, the daughter of an iconic Québécois singer, there is something “distinct,” something “weird and special” about us.
Heather O’Neill’s first novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, earned accolades around the world, including being named winner of Canada Reads 2007 and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and being a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Orange Prize. She is a regular contributor to CBC Books, CBC Radio, National Public Radio, The New York Times Magazine, The Gazette (Montreal) and The Walrus. She was born in Montreal, where she currently lives.
Who first congratulated Heather O’Neill when the news came out that her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
From ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews. Copyright © 2014 Miriam Toews. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a novel of great subtlety and insight. Toews has an exceptional talent for observing life as we live it in our time. Her book, based around the bond between two sisters, one of whom is bent on suicide, is a deep and affecting portrait of love, loyalty and reckoning. Out of this material, Toews brilliantly crafts a novel of a family in disarray. Despite the darkness of the subject matter, All My Puny Sorrows is both serious and outrageously funny. Do not be misled; this is art masquerading as light fiction.
Miriam Toews is the author of five previous bestselling novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness (Canada Reads 2006, Canada Reads Canadian Bestseller of the Decade 2010), The Flying Troutmans, and Irma Voth, and one work of non-fiction, Swing Low: A Life. She is a winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Writers Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award. She lives in Toronto.
How did Miriam Toews learn that her novel All My Puny Sorrows was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
Excerpted from THE EVER AFTER OF ASHWIN RAO by Padma Viswanathan. Copyright © 2014 Padma Viswanathan. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Scotch-drinking, McGill-educated psychologist Ashwin Rao wrote about those bereaved by India’s state-sponsored anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. In 2004, he returns to Canada researching another book on comparative grief, attending the trial over the 1985 bombing of Air India 182, a bombing that claimed 329 lives, including his sister and her children. Guided by Viswanathan’s ever-compassionate gaze, and her ability to render a polyglot world in English, Ashwin meets Canadians affected by the tragedy, some as complex as himself. This often droll, fiercely intelligent novel with its cat’s-cradle of a plot challenges the twin deadly lures of religious fundamentalism and racism, revealing the learning and unlearning at the core of the immigrant experience.
Padma Viswanathan is a Canadian fiction writer, playwright and journalist, whose debut novel, The Toss of a Lemon, was shortlisted for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book Award (Canada and the Caribbean) and the PEN USA Fiction Award, and published to international acclaim. Her work has received many awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and support from the Canada Council, as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Banff Centre and the Sacatar Foundation. Her hometown is Edmonton, Alberta, though she is presently living with her husband, Geoffrey Brock, a poet and translator, and their two children in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
How surprised was Padma Viswanathan that her novel The Ever After of Ashwin Rao was shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize?