The 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced its long-list of books in the running for this year’s award yesterday – they have selected 16 titles out of 143 book submissions, which was a new record, put forward by 55 publishers from every region across the country. Here are the top 10 Giller Prize nominees.
David Bezmozgis for his novel "The Free World," HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Leah Hager Cohen, Globe and Mail: "His first novel, 'The Free World,' unspools in a voice as whimsical and wry and trippingly light as a sidewalk musician’s, and he draws us in the same way a consummate busker attracts his audience: with deceptive ease and unavoidable power, so that hours later we find ourselves still on the street corner, transfixed, unable to tear ourselves away until the act itself has finished and releases us."
Michael Ondaatje for his novel "The Cat's Table," McClelland & Stewart
Sonnet L'Abbe, Globe and Mail: "A cat can look at a king, the saying goes, or, in the case of Michael Ondaatje’s new boy hero, one at the cat’s table can look at all classes. In his sixth novel, 'The Cat’s Table,' about a young someday-writer’s precocious observations of the adult classes, Ondaatje insists that the most truthful looking is often done from the lowliest positions."
Guy Vanderhaeghe for his novel "A Good Man," McClelland & Stewart
Michael Bryson, Quill & Quire: "Set in the late-19th century in the areas now known as North Dakota and Saskatchewan, 'A Good Man' is a rollicking story as large as the prairie is wide."
Patrick DeWitt for his novel "The Sisters Brothers," House of Anansi Press
Brian Bethune, Maclean's: "There never was a more engaging pair of psychopaths than Charlie and Eli Sisters, two brothers who kill for hire – and for necessity, and sometimes for the pure, amusing hell of it…"
Esi Edugyan for her novel "Half-Blood Blues," Thomas Allen Publishers
Bernardine Evaristo, Guardian News: "Afro-Germans don't usually get a look-in when the narratives of Nazi Germany are told, yet the black presence in Germany goes back to at least the 18th century, and later waves of African immigrants produced German-born offspring who, by the interwar years, numbered several thousand. In this novel, the fictional Hieronymous 'Hiero' Falk, around whom the plot revolves, is one of them…"
Lynn Coady for her novel "The Antagonist," House of Anansi Press
Barbara Carey, The Star: "When it comes right down to it, most fiction writers are thieves. Sure, they cover themselves by prefacing their published work with that stock phrase about events and characters being fictitious. But they often draw on others’ real experiences in their stories, albeit just as a starting point for their own imaginings. One such act of literary larceny is at the heart of The Antagonist, Lynn Coady’s fourth novel."
Alexi Zentner for his novel "Touch," Knopf Canada
Adam O'Riordan, The Telegraph: "After leaving the remote Canadian town of Sawgamet aged 16 to train at a seminary in Edmonton, Stephen, "Touch’s" narrator, serves as a chaplain in the First World War. Now in his forties, he has returned with his young family to 'live in the shadows of my father and grandfather', to oversee the running of the church and to pen a eulogy for his mother."
Clarke Blaise for his short story collection "The Meagre Tarmac," Biblioasis
James Grainger, Quill & Quire: "Like many authors largely focused on the short story form, Clark Blaise is known more by reputation than for his accomplished and eclectic body of work. Though his fiction explores questions of identity, ethnicity, and cultural and geographic displacement – themes that loom large in the contemporary zeitgeist – it does so through decidedly untrendy and resolutely literary techniques."
Genni Gunn for her novel "Solitaria," Signature Editions
Elizabeth Bricknell, The Winnipeg Review: "'How easy it is,' thinks David, the protagonist of Genni Gunn’s third novel, 'Solitaria,' 'to go from a loner to alone. One letter away.' He is referring to his octogenarian aunt, Piera, who is known to her family and village as solitaria, alone, versus solitario, which gives the impression that she has chosen to live as a recluse. She shuns her large family and allows only her nephew David into her locked chambers, but it becomes apparent that her formerly loving and supportive family now view her with scorn, contempt and avoidance. But why?"
Marina Endicott for her novel "The Little Shadows," Doubleday Canada
Random House: "'The Little Shadows' revolves around three sisters in the world of vaudeville before and during the First World War. Here is the eagerly anticipated new novel from a brilliant writer whose last book, 'Good to a Fault,' was shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Prize for Canada and the Caribbean."