The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist

This is the 23rd anniversary of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a prize that was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his wife, the late literary journalist Doris Giller. The prize awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists.

The 2016 Giller Prize jury members are: Canadian writers Lawrence Hill (Jury Chair), Jeet Heer and Kathleen Winter, along with British author Samantha Harvey and Scottish writer Alan Warner. You can find more information about the jurors here.

This year I will be joining Kim from Reading Matters and Alison from The Globe and Mail on the Giller Prize Shadow Jury. The shortlist will be announced on September 26th, after which we will be reading and reviewing all the books on the list, and making our shadow selection a few days before the real winner is announced on November 7th.

So, stay tuned for some Giller Prize content in the near future…

Here’s the longlist (announced September 6th):


Mona Awad for her novel 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, published by Penguin Canada

Gary Barwin for his novel Yiddish for Pirates, published by Random House Canada

Andrew Battershill for his novel Pillow, published by Coach House Books


David Bergen for his novel Stranger, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Emma Donoghue for her novel The Wonder, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

Catherine Leroux for her novel The Party Wall, published by Biblioasis International Translation Series, translated by Lazer Lederhendler


Kathy Page for her story collection The Two of Us, published by A John Metcalf Book, an imprint of Biblioasis

Susan Perly for her novel Death Valley, published by Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak and Wynn Publishers

Kerry Lee Powell for her story collection Willem De Kooning’s Paintbrush, published by HarperAvenue, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd


Steven Price for his novel By Gaslight, published by McClelland & Stewart

Madeleine Thien for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada

Zoe Whittall for her novel The Best Kind of People, published by House of Anansi Press Inc.

Have you read any of these, or plan to? Anyone wish to make a prediction about the shortlist?

56 thoughts on “The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist

  1. Rebecca Foster says:

    I got a chance to read the Donoghue early and I have a library hold on the Thien. Then I’ve heard about the Awad and Price. All the rest are completely new to me. I’m sold on “Yiddish for Pirates” just based on the title 🙂 You’ll have some very interesting reading ahead of you for the next eight weeks. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves says:

    That’s so exciting you get to be on the shadow jury!! Congratulations! And what exactly is a “shadow” jury??

  3. whatmeread says:

    As much as I read, these long lists always make me feel like I have way too much reading left to do. Usually, I haven’t read any of them, and that’s the case here. In fact, I’ve only even heard of two of them. Sigh.

    • Naomi says:

      I feel the same way. It’s fun to read about them all, but it can feel overwhelming.
      You’re about to hear more about some of these, then you can decide if there are any that interest you!

  4. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    I have a hold on The Wonder, which is on order at the library, but the Thien won’t get published in the US until mid-October. That’s the one I really want to read. Will you start reading from the longlist, or will you wait until the shortlist is announced? I’m looking forward to all the reviews and discussions.

    • Naomi says:

      I’m going to try to start reading from the longlist in hopes that at least one that I read will make it to the shortlist. That would make October’s reading a little easier. But, really, I wouldn’t mind reading them all, anyway. The deciding factor will be which books I can get my hands on and when. I’ve already read The Party Wall, so I can already recommend that one!

  5. JacquiWine says:

    Glad to hear you are part of the Shadow Jury for this. I enjoyed participating in Stu’s IFFP shadow panel a couple of years ago, a very rewarding experience. It’s quite a big commitment, but I’m sure you’ll find it very rewarding. The only one I’ve heard of the Thein which has just made the Booker shortlist, a good sign I suspect.

  6. Lee D. Thompson says:

    Kerry-Lee Powell’s story collection is brilliant – dark, funny, disturbing at times, and always well-written, poetic (her poetry collection Inheritance was likely my favourite book last year). Nice, too, that she has an Atlantic Canada/New Brunswick connection.

  7. Care says:

    wow! VERY exciting for you Naomi – I’m thrilled for you.
    I have only heard of a few, too. but I must say — and this isn’t typical of me and book covers (I usually don’t even think about them) but a LOT of these covers are extremely enticing.
    Have fun! Looking forward to your thoughts.

  8. didibooksenglish says:

    I wish more bloggers talked about this prize that I’m vaguely familiar with. That being said this list is very interesting. The Wonder is one of the books that I’m interested in checking out. Can’t wait to read the posts to come on this prize.

  9. roughghosts says:

    As a Canadian who does not read much Canlit, I am pleased to see the diversity coming in to the Giller long/shortlists even if the winners sometimes tend to the safer/better known writers. The only title I have on hand courtesy of the publisher is Party Wall and I’d like to try and read it if I can (time allowing). I always love to champion the translated titles.

    • Naomi says:

      The Party Wall is also the only one I have right now, and I’ve just finished it. You’re in for a treat. But be warned – the book is more powerful if you avoid spoilers, including the blurb on the back of the book. I’ll have a review of it up at some point. And, it would be great to hear what you think of it if you find the time to read it!
      I agree – I love seeing a wide range of books and publishers on this list. It’s much more interesting to me, too, when there are some that I haven’t heard of.
      Thanks for your comment!

  10. Bibliobroads says:

    Excellent!! You go Naomi…Bibliobroads trust your reading judgment. Can’t wait! Can truly get behind this year’s Giller list- as readers, booksellers & ‘commentators.’ We’ll be tuning in & will inform our Bibliobroads readers….fantastic! k

  11. FictionFan says:

    Having read precisely none of them, I’m going to make my predictions based on the covers. So it’s between The Party Wall and By Gaslight – I also love both of those titles. Good luck with the jury thing – hope there’s loads of great ones in there. (But don’t tempt me to read them all, please!!)

    • Naomi says:

      I aim to tempt, Fiction Fan, so look out! Good choices based on the covers – I love The Party Wall’s cover! (Also, having already read it, I wouldn’t mind seeing it make the cut.)

  12. Read Diverse Books says:

    What an interesting project!
    I don’t think I’m familiar with this prize, though perhaps I’ve heard of it and have forgotten. 100k is a huge honor! It must be a big deal in Canada, then. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I only recognize 2 of these books :s So I will be learning a lot over the next few months as you read and review these books. Have fun!!

    • Naomi says:

      It *is* a huge deal here. Even though the Governor General Awards have been around much longer, the Giller quickly became the big one because of the prize value.

  13. BookerTalk says:

    Yiu have a busy few weeks ahead of you! I’m 100 pages into the Madeleine Thien. It was a bit co fusing at times sorting out who was who I thr back story of her father’s history but noemim hooked.,wh wouldn’t be with characters called Sparrow, Swirl and Big Mother Knife?.

  14. AYearOfBooksBlog says:

    Just picked up The Wonder yesterday and looking forward to it! Going to meet Madeleine Thien today in Guelph with Alexandre Trudeau so I have some serious reading to do with their two books and I was lucky to find a second hand copy of Yiddish for Pirates. I am looking forward to your reviews!!!

  15. Laila@BigReadingLife says:

    Thanks for writing about this – I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of that prize before. It’s really ridiculous how little we hear about Canadian lit in the US, considering how close we are geographically! I look forward to reading your posts on the shadow jury process!

  16. buriedinprint says:

    Most of these are on my TBR and I am dreaming of reading them before the shortlist is announced, so that I could play “let’s predict” with you. But so far I am stuck at the end of the first chapter of By Gaslight (simply because it’s too heavy to carry about), so I’m not moving as quickly as I should to get those dreams into reality-territory. We’ll see. Good luck with the rest of them!

    • Naomi says:

      In my mind I am storming through the books, but in reality I’m only inching along in between football practices, dance lessons, and family weddings/dinners/reunions. But we can do it! (At least, mostly.) 🙂

  17. FictionFan says:

    By Gaslight has just shown up on NetGalley, and I wondered – did you ever get to read it, Naomi? And if so, what did you think? I should really resist it, but I’m tempted…

    • Naomi says:

      Ha! I was just thinking about how Gaslight is still sitting in my to-read pile on the windowsill and wondering if it will still be there in the fall when the new Giller longlist is announced? So, no, I haven’t read it. But Buried in Print has – here’s a link to her thoughts:
      I have to say that the Dickensian look to it really tempts me – I just haven’t gotten to it. I’m kind of hoping you’ll decide to read it… I’d love to know what you think!

  18. FictionFan says:

    Thanks for the link to Buried in Print’s great review! Oh dear! It does sound good but I hadn’t realised it was over 700 pages – sadly, I have far too many reviewing committments coming up to be able to fit such a long book in over the summer. I’ll have to let it pass on NetGalley, and stick it on my wishlist for some time in the future. It’s a terrible problem – too many books, too little time… 😉

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