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The Giller Effect gets an academic treatment

(photo: Tom Sandler)

Giller founder Jack Rabinovitch, 2013 winner Lynn Coady, and Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter (photo: Tom Sandler)

For the first time, the so-called Giller Effect will get an academic examination, thanks to a new course at Ottawa’s Carleton University. As English lit professor Rose Marie Hoey points out in her syllabus, the Scotiabank Giller Prize is coveted not simply for its prestige, or for the $50,000 purse for the winning book. The appeal also lies in the so-called Giller Effect – apparently responsible for a 900 per cent bump in sales of Will Ferguson’s novel 419, after the author’s 2012 win.

Hoey suggests the impact of the prize transcends the financial realm and enters social, historical, and political arenas.

Hoey writes:

Margaret Atwood has argued that, “the act of reading is just as singular – always – as the act of writing.” However, when such discourses extend to juried assessments, rankings, and prize winnings, the original topics may cross thresholds into new vistas of criticism … Does being nominated for a prestigious literary prize which is often determined by the nature, sponsorship, and high profile marketing of same, affect readership, the author, and the future of the literary and public scenes?

Students enrolled in the Honours undergraduate course will follow the 2014 award, from the shortlist announcement Sept. 16 to the gala on Nov. 10.