The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced its shortlist on Monday, September 26, 2016, derived from a longlist of 12 books. The jury read an amazing 161 books submitted by 69 publisher imprints from every region of the country. The longlist was selected by an esteemed five-member jury panel: Canadian writers Lawrence Hill (jury chair), Jeet Heer and Kathleen Winter, English author Samantha Harvey and Scottish novelist Alan Warner.
The shortlisted finalists for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize are as follows:
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
published by Penguin Canada
Excerpted from 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL. Copyright © Mona Awad, 2016. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Mona Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl isn’t just funny, it’s painfully funny. Every page shimmers with a sharply-observed wit, wise in the ways of human folly, but the humour of the book takes the reader into a deep and dark place: the psyche of the character Lizzie, whose battle to become skinny is also a war against herself. With masterful skill, Mona Awad takes the social problem of body image obsession and makes it the stuff of utterly engrossing fiction.
Mona Awad was born in Montreal and received her MFA in fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Joyland, Post Road, St. Petersburg Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing and English literature at the University of Denver.
Yiddish for Pirates
published by Random House Canada
Excerpted from YIDDISH FOR PIRATES. Copyright © 2016 Gary Barwin. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Penguin Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Across time and across continents, Gary Barwin’s novel “parrots” in an altogether new way. In a ferment of salty witticism, parroty puns and unforgettable Yiddish vocabulary, this is a novel borne not just on the wings of its feathery narrator, but on its own jubilant and alluring language; its own voice. Playful, mocking, using history with audacious abandon, Yiddish for Pirates is a resplendent enjoyment. But, literally viewed from above, the novel also admonishes us about man’s inexhaustible zeal for butchery, for incessant genocide, and for affliction. We have had animal narrators throughout literary history, but Aaron the African grey parrot, from the shoulder of his pirate master, will lift you to new heights.
Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, and multimedia artist, and the author of 20 books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His recent books include the short fiction collection I, Dr Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (Anvil) and the poetry collections Moon Baboon Canoe (Mansfield) and The Wild and Unfathomable Always (Xexoxial). A PhD in music composition, Barwin has been Writer-in-Residence at Western University and Young Voices eWriter-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library and has taught creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. Born in Northern Ireland to South African parents of Ashkenazi descent, Barwin moved to Canada as a child. He is married with three adult children, and lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Excerpted from THE WONDER. Copyright © 2016 by Emma Donoghue. 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.
By rights there should be nothing thrilling about watching a child starve herself in her bed, day after day, for the course of a novel – but great fiction is all about subverting what should and shouldn’t be the case, and The Wonder is great fiction. The thrill is a quiet, dreadful, tender one, as we keep vigil at the child’s bed and will her to eat, will for change or revelation. This is a shapely, elegant and beautifully articulated novel and a piece of lucid theatre; it illuminates what could easily be an oblique and bleak subject. The Wonder does what we as judges yearned for – allowed us to forget we were judges, and just become readers, hooked and wowed.
Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin in 1969 and lived in England for many years before moving to Canada. She writes in many genres, including theatre, radio drama, and literary history, but is best known for her fiction, both historical (Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Astray, Frog Music) and contemporary (Stir-fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects). Her seventh novel, Room, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and Caribbean region) and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes. It sold over two million copies. Donoghue scripted the film adaptation by Lenny Abrahamson, starring Brie Larson, which won the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Grolsch People’s Choice Award.
Lazer Lederhendler (translator)
The Party Wall
published by Biblioasis International
Excerpted from THE PARTY WALL. Copyright © Catherine Leroux, 2013. Translation copyright © Lazer Lederhendler, 2016. Excerpted by permission of Biblioasis international translation series. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The jury loved Catherine Leroux’s The Party Wall for its pure storytelling. Intriguing, wise and strange, the novel reveals layers of love and tension that hold mystery yet keep a crystalline clarity. Leroux’s prose, beautifully translated by Lazer Lederhendler, never abandons aesthetic precision. Her story is always assured, yet remains open. Its architecture holds a centre pulsing with life.
Catherine Leroux was born in 1979 in the Northern suburbs of Montreal. After holding various jobs she became a journalist and devoted herself to writing. Her first novel, Marche en forêt, was published in 2011 by Éditions Alto, and her newest novel is Madame Victoria (Éditions Alto, 2015). The Party Wall is her English-language debut, published with Biblioasis in 2016, and was selected for Indies Introduce for Summer/Fall 2016.
Lazer Lederhendler is a Canadian literary translator and academic. A four-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award for French to English translation, he won the award in 2008 for his translation of Nicolas Dickner’s novel Nikolski.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada
Excerpted from DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING. Copyright © 2016 Madeleine Thien. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien entranced the jurors with its detailed, layered, complex drama of classical musicians and their loved ones trying to survive two monstrous insults to their humanity: Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in mid-twentieth century China and the Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors in Beijing in 1989. Do Not Say We Have Nothing addresses some of the timeless questions of literature: who do we love, and how do the love of art, of others and ourselves sustain us individually and collectively in the face of genocide? A beautiful homage to music and to the human spirit, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is both sad and uplifting in its dramatization of human loss and resilience in China and in Canada.
Madeleine Thien is the author of the story collection Simple Recipes, which was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, a Kiriyama Pacific Prize Notable Book, and won the BC Book Prize for Fiction; the novel Certainty, which won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award; and the novel Dogs at the Perimeter, which was shortlisted for Berlin’s 2014 International Literature Award and won the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 Liberaturpreis. Her novels and stories have been translated into twenty-five languages, and her essays have appeared in Granta, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Five Dials, Brick and Al Jazeera. Her story “The Wedding Cake” was shortlisted for the prestigious 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants to Canada, she lives in Montreal.
The Best Kind of People
published by House of Anansi Press
Excerpted from THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE. Copyright © 2016 Zoe Whittall. Excerpted by permission of House of Anansi Press Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The jury found Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People urgent and timely, nuanced and brave. This gripping story challenges how we hear women and girls, and dissects the self-hypnosis and fear that prevent us from speaking disruptive truth. With subversive precision and solid veracity, Whittall calls into question pervasive forms of silence and acquiescence.
Zoe Whittall is the author of The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001), The Emily Valentine Poems (2006), and Precordial Thump (2008), and the editor of Geeks, Misfits, & Outlaws (2003). Her debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007) made the Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads’ Top Ten Essential Novels of the Decade. Her second novel Holding Still for as Long as Possible (2009) won a Lambda Literary Award and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. She was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Literature in 2016. Her writing has appeared in the Walrus, the Believer, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Fashion, and more. She has also worked as a writer and story editor on the TV shows Degrassi, Schitt’s Creek, and the Baroness Von Sketch Show. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.
Gary Barwin, by Adela Talbot
Emma Donoghue, by Andrew Bainbridge
Catherine Leroux, by Julie Artacho
Madeleine Thien, by Babak Salari
Zoe Whittall, by Vivek Shraya