On the CBC website, Rachel Giese tells us what everyone in the Canadian book biz should already know: how to spot award-winning Canadian works of fiction. Taking a tally of 31 past winners of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for English fiction, she spells out two alternate recipes for success. First, be Alice Munro. Failing that, write a historical novel set in a small town revolving around themes of race and family and have it published by HarperCollins, McClelland & Stewart, or a Random House imprint.
It’s troubling to see just how often the decisions of Canadian tastemakers appear to align with Giese’s simple algebra; however, in a fall literary award season that has seen big international prizes go to unlikely contenders — see Harold Pinter and John Banville — and Scotiabank Giller and GG nominations bestowed mainly upon a cast of wild cards, the winners of Canada’s top fiction prizes will be anyone’s guess.
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