Two left-field contenders and one notable omission characterize this year’s shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. David Chariandy, longlisted for his sophomore novel, Brother, and considered by some to be a favourite to win the prize, was left off the five-book shortlist, as were the longlisted story collections and the lone work in translation.
Rachel Cusk made the cut for her novel, Transit, published by HarperCollins. Other widely expected inclusions were Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square (Doubleday Canada) and Eden Robinson for her novel Son of a Trickster (Knopf Canada).
The two other shortlisted titles were less anticipated. Ed O’Loughlin’s sprawling historical novel about Arctic exploration, Minds of Winter (House of Anansi Press), scored a berth on this year’s list, as did Michelle Winters’s I Am a Truck, which marks the first appearance on a Giller shortlist for both the author and her publisher, Invisible Publishing. (Invisible made the longlist in 2013 for Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s story collection, How to Get Along with Women.) It is also O’Loughlin’s first time appearing on a Giller shortlist. Cusk, Redhill, and Robinson have all been shortlisted for previous work.
This year’s shortlist tilts in favour of multinational publishers, with three-fifths of the nominations; independents Véhicule Press and ChiZine Publications, both longlisted for the first time this year (for Josip Novakovich’s story collection Tumbleweed and David Demchuk’s linked-story collection The Bone Mother, respectively), did not move on to the final round. Demchuk’s book was also notable for being the first genre horror title nominated for the Giller.
With Chariandy absent from this year’s Giller shortlist, there are no overlaps between it and the recently announced Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlist.
One note liable to antagonize cultural nationalists: this year not one, but two Giller-shortlisted authors have resided outside of Canada for most of their lives. Cusk was born in Toronto, but spent her early years in Los Angeles, and now lives and works in the U.K. O’Loughlin was also born in Toronto, but was raised in Dublin, where he currently resides. Giller eligibility requirements stipulate only that writers must retain Canadian citizenship; they make no mention of living here or the length of time an author has been away.
This year’s jury for the Scotiabank Giller Prize comprises jury chair Anita Rau Badami, along with writers André Alexis, Lynn Coady, Nathan Englander, and Richard Beard. The $100,000 prize will be awarded at a gala ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 20.