Scotiabank Giller Prize 2019: Longlist

The Scotiabank Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by the late 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 2019 Giller Prize jury members are: Randy Boyagoda (Jury Chair), Aminatta Forna, Aleksandar (Sasha) Hemon, Donna Bailey Nurse, and José Teodoro.

“The 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist reveals and affirms a welcome and timely truth: Canadian fiction in 2019 is as confident in its exploration and interrogation of the local as it is curious and voracious in its engagement with the world beyond our borders, with time and place being understood in ways that are expansive, warping, and unexpectedly intimate.”

This year I will be joining Alison from The Globe and Mail and Marcie from Buried in Print on the Giller Prize Shadow Jury. The shortlist will be announced on September 30th, after which we will be reading and reviewing the books on the shortlist, and making our shadow selection a few days before the real winner is announced on November 18th.

Here’s the longlist (announced September 3rd):

  • Days by Moonlight by André Alexis, published by Coach House Books
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis, published by HarperCollins (short stories)

  • Greenwood by Michael Christie, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles, published by House of Anansi Press
  • The Innocents by Michael Crummey, published by Doubleday Canada

  • Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds, published by Biblioasis
  • Late Breaking by K.D. Miller, published by Biblioasis (short stories)
  • Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin, published by House of Anansi Press

  • Lampedusa by Steven Price, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta, published by Astoria (House of Anansi Press)
  • Reproduction by Ian Williams, published by Random House Canada

Thoughts on the four I have already read:

Have you read any yet? Comments? Disappointments? Which ones are you most excited about?


27 thoughts on “Scotiabank Giller Prize 2019: Longlist

  1. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis says:

    I haven’t read any – in fact, again this year, I find myself recognizing only a few. I do have The Innocents on reserve at the library, and Frying Plantain (which I obtained from Briny Books) on my bookshelf. I have (at least) heard of Late Breaking and, since I enjoyed Miller’s All Saints will probably pick that up soon.

    Is there anyone in the English speaking world who is unaware of Atwood’s new novel?

    • Naomi says:

      Ha! I doubt it!

      If you liked All Saints, you will surely like Late Breaking. I loved them both!
      I also have The Innocents on hold – we might even be competing! I’m #9, which is a long waiting list around here.
      I also loved Frying Plantain. It sounds like you’ve got some good ones there! Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Penny says:

    I’m so ahead of the game this year! Completely surprised myself!! When the Longlist was announced I had already read Reproduction, Dual Citizens and The Innocents! I’ve just finished Lampedusa. (The Innocents and Lampedusa being my favourites from that bunch. They are both wildly different styles of books so it will be interesting to see if they are on the Shortlist?)
    I’m hoping PRHC grants me the gift of Greenwood. I’ve long been waiting for that one – was so excited to see a new Christie was coming out. (And a Crummey) I have On Hold at the library right now: Small Game Hunting, Late Breaking and Dream Sequence. I figure those would be all I can get to right now (although I’m still waiting!) and will decide what to read later if the others make the shortlist. Out of the remaining ones it would be Andre Alexis’ that I would take a try at. 🙂

    Glad to see you guys are doing the Shadow Giller again!!

    • Naomi says:

      You are so ahead of the game! And the four books you’ve read are all different from the four I’ve read.

      What did you think of the Crummey compared to his others? I’m so curious…

  3. Karissa says:

    Ooh, your shadow jury sounds like fun! I’ve read Reproduction and Dual Citizens. They both had their strengths but I wasn’t blown away by either. I have a copy of Lampedusa and Immigrant City and Late Breaking are on hold for me now at the library – I’m trying to read as many as I can this year.

  4. Rebecca Foster says:

    I look forward to reading all the shadow panel reviews again. That’s impressive that one of your members works for the Globe & Mail! How did you manage to rope her in? 🙂

    I was amazed to see that I’d read two of the longlist (Foulds and Ohlin), as I always expect that Giller books won’t be widely available outside of Canada. I didn’t realize Foulds was eligible.

    • Naomi says:

      Adam Foulds is currently a resident of Toronto, so I guess that’s what did it!

      Alison has been on the panel for quite a few years now – she was a friend of Kevin’s. (Kevin from Canada was the one who started the shadow panel.)

  5. wadholloway says:

    Do you mind the condition ‘published in English’? This would seem to exclude not just French but First Nations languages. And no, I don’t know if Australian prizes have a similar condition.

    • Naomi says:

      It’s definitely the case that literary prizes are not perfect. The Giller happens to be an English prize. I guess it would have something to do with how the prize is set up (in this case it was started by an individual who wanted to give back to the literary community his wife loved so much). There are other literary prizes in Canada, most notably the Governor General Literary Awards which includes both English and French. Wouldn’t it be great if they also included Indigenous languages? But, admittedly, I don’t know how many books there are out there written in Indigenous languages – I am more likely to know about the ones written in English or translated into English. I would have to do more research on that to find out…
      Why is it that an English literary prize has the highest profile? 1) It is the most lucrative literary prize in Canada, and 2) most of the books in Canada are published in English, rightly or wrongly.
      Why do I help to celebrate it? Because I will celebrate almost anything that helps to promote reading around the country. I like to follow them all!

      • wadholloway says:

        Good answer! I can think of one Australian book that had English and Indigenous sections – Two Sisters. And one movie, Ten Canoes, that you can view in English or in the Indigenous language of far northern Australian (Arnhem Land).

      • Naomi says:

        There are a lot of children’s books out now that have both English and Indigenous languages (at our library here I mostly see Mi’kmaq), so maybe it will work its way up!

  6. A Life in Books says:

    Lots of names new to me here. No surprise given my constant complaint about the lack of Canadian fiction published in the UK although I do know that Dual Citizens is due out here in December and have hopes for the Crummey, Foulds and Alexis. Have fun on the shadow jury!

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Susan!
      It makes me happy to know that Michael Crummey’s name is known to you over there! He’s one of my favourites, and from Atlantic Canada. 🙂

  7. madamebibilophile says:

    Selfishly, I’m hoping The Testaments doesn’t win. Because that will be published here no matter what. Whereas if one of the others wins, maybe it will mean that something which wouldn’t have been published in the UK will be published here after all. I’m a very self-serving reader 😀

  8. buriedinprint says:

    I’m looking forward to reading the ones I’ve not yet read on the list.

    And somehow I’d missed your review of the Foulds novel. It looks to have gone live in the middle of August humidity! That one is in my stack now, but first I must finish the Crummey and see what’s going to happen next for this poor pair of kiddies.

    Thanks for making the first official Shadow Giller post, Naomi: you rock!

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