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Surprise inclusions, omissions on Giller longlist

Margaret Atwood and Anne Michaels were no-brainers for inclusion, but Martha Baillie? Jeanette Lynes? Anyone trying to predict which titles would be blessed by Giller’s touch in 2009 could be forgiven for being a tad surprised. Particularly given the notable absence of Lisa Moore, whose second novel, February, was favoured by many not just to be longlisted, but to take the prize. Other big-name MIAs include Bonnie Burnard, John Bemrose, Douglas Coupland, and Michael Crummey.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize released its longlist this morning, with 12 titles making the cut:

  • Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Martha Baillie, The Incident Report (Pedlar Press)
  • Kim Echlin, The Disappeared (Penguin Canada)
  • Claire Holden Rothman, The Heart Specialist (Cormorant Books)
  • Paulette Jiles, The Colour of Lightning (HarperCollins Canada)
  • Jeanette Lynes, The Factory Voice (Coteau Books)
  • Annabel Lyon, The Golden Mean (Random House Canada)
  • Linden MacIntyre, The Bishop’s Man (Random House Canada)
  • Colin McAdam, Fall (Penguin Canada)
  • Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault (McClelland & Stewart)
  • Shani Mootoo, Valmiki’s Daughter (House of Anansi Press)
  • Kate Pullinger, The Mistress of Nothing (McArthur & Company)

McClelland & Stewart, which has published the winning book more often than any other house, has two nominations, and likely would have had three, had Alice Munro not taken her latest, Too Much Happiness, out of the running. Random House was limited to two nominations, as was last year’s champ, Penguin Canada. HarperCollins and House of Anansi each have one. Which leaves fully one-third of the list devoted to authors from smaller presses: Cormorant, Coteau, McArthur & Company, and Pedlar.

Notably, all 12 longlisted books are novels; there isn’t a single collection of short fiction to be found. (Annabel Lyon, best know to date for her short fiction, is nominated for her first novel. Other first novelists on the list are Claire Holden Rothman and poet Jeanette Lynes.)

The jury, composed of novelist and short-story writer Alistair MacLeod, U.S. novelist Russell Banks, and U.K. author Victoria Glendinning, chose the 12 longlisted titles from a field of 96 books submitted by 39 publishers. A jury statement on the Scotiabank Giller website reads:

Though they vary stylistically and structurally and connect with and extend a range of novelistic traditions, every one of these twelve books is an excellent, beautifully crafted work of fiction with a cast of vividly realized, memorable characters. We were particularly impressed by the authors’ broad and deep visions of society and their profound affection for humanity and the natural world. Equally impressive is their imaginative engagement with history, from that of ancient Greece to yesterday’s breaking news, and even in a few cases, to the history of a dystopian future.

The Giller shortlist will be unveiled on Oct. 6, and the $50,000 prize will be awarded at a gala dinner reception on Nov. 10.