Two Possibilities for the Giller Longlist?

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Five Little Indians

Five Little Indians was a book I had pegged as being a contender for the Longlist as soon as I read the description and before I read it. (Five Little Indians is told from the alternating points of view of five former residential school students as they struggle to survive in 1960s Vancouver.)

It took me a mere two days to read this one, the first night I laid awake with my thoughts about the pain that was present on every page. I spent the entire next day reading it. I was so invested in the characters and their stories and how they were coping following their release or escape from the residential school, the Mission. Lucy, Kenny, Clara, Howie and Maisie each have stories filled with great pain and trauma and their ability, or inability to cope post-school because of the abuse and trauma they experienced at the hands of the priests and nuns at the Mission school.

Their stories of trying to find safety and belonging in their new world and lives, in finding whatever ways they can to overcome, or at least attempt to forget what they lived through, will haunt me for a long time. What a remarkable debut! I am eager to see how the Giller jury feels about this one, and if it finds its way (rightfully) on the Longlist announcement coming in September.

How To Pronounce Knife

What an excellent collection of stories! Seriously wonderful stories. In sometimes as little as 6 or 7 pages, each story was packed with great emotion! I won’t necessarily give a run-down or summary of the stories, but they are honestly some of the best I’ve read! I can totally see this collection being on the Longlist because of it’s beautiful writing and how each story gives such strong insight into the plights of refugees (here, Laotian), being an outsider, wanting a sense of belonging — really I won’t be able to give you profound words about it – but these all have such heart, emotion, humour and heartbreak. I highly recommend reading this collection!

For most of these stories their narrators are never named, or there is no reference to their name, other characters are also mostly unnamed, with only my mother, my father, the girl, the woman used. It’s a very compelling way of telling the story.

David Chariandy is on the Giller jury this year, and his name is all over this book. His blurbs are on the front and the back of the book. Does that effect it’s chances at all? Hopefully not, it is listed as an eligible title and I would be completely happy to see it on the Longlist. It could very well make it all the way to the Shortlist and I would be thrilled if it did.

The title story plays over and over again in my head. It is probably my very favourite. Thammavongsa has managed to pack in soooo much heart and soul into 7 pages, it was a deeply affecting story. Just everything about it sang! My other favourites were Randy Travis, You are So Embarrassing, Chick-a-Chee, and A Far Distant Thing. All of these stories made me smile, but they tugged at my heart too.

My first two books that appear on the Crazy for CanLit list were immensely successful ones so I am ever the more eager for September 8 to roll around to see if they land on the Longlist.