The Canadian literary award season has begun!
The Giller Prize Longlist announcement has kicked the season off to its start, and was announced on Monday, September 17th. Shown in the image below are the titles longlisted for the prize:
I’ve already read Vi, by Kim Thuy and fully expected to see it on this year’s longlist. Thuy is a favourite with the Giller judges and her debut novel, Ru, made it all the way to the Shortlist in 2012. So it was no surprise to find Vi here. While it contains her signature gorgeous and lyrical prose, I don’t anticipate it to take the title. However, you just never know do you?
The second one I’ve read from this list was one I just finished last night: Zolitude, by Paige Cooper. It’s a short story collection I was reluctant to add to my TBR when I first saw it publicized, thinking the stories would be too “out there” for me. I ended up picking it up immediately following the Longlist announcement when I saw it available from the library. As expected, this collection was indeed too far out there for me to fully enjoy. I wonder if this one will go the distance to the shortlist? The jury this year is quite an eclectic one, so it was expected to find a few quirkier titles on the list, and Zolitude certainly fits that description. I’ve already started on the second story collection appearing on the Longlist, Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore.
There has been 4 times in the 25 years of the Giller Prize where a short story collection has won the prize. Twice by Alice Munro, first for The Love of a Good Woman (1998) and Runaway (2004), Vincent Lam won for Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (2006) and finally, Lynn Coady won for Hellgoing (2013). (I’ve read none of these, but do own Hellgoing.)
I also own Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, so those two will be the ones I read after Something for Everyone. I have to say I’m quite surprised (but pleasantly so) to see Our Homesick Songs on this list! Washington Black was a sure-thing in my opinion and it’s also been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The other ones I’m most intrigued to read are, Songs for the Cold of Heart –this is the doorstopper, just like Minds of Winter was to last year’s long-and-short lists. It’s not available from our library or in our bookstores yet, (nothing in all of Southwestern Ontario it seems – I’ve checked!) but I hope that will be changed soon. (Will it happen before, and if, it makes the shortlist announcement?) – and Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq. The rest I’ll wait to see if they make the shortlist before determining if I’ll read them or not. 😉
I will also be following along, just as closely as I do the actual Prize, the Shadow Giller judges. Naomi from Consumed by Ink has also posted the details about the longlist and their shadow jury here.
What do you think of this year’s Longlist? Have you read any on this list already? Any disappointments of those that you don’t see on the Longlist? For me, quite surprised to not see Women Talking by Miriam Toews on here! I’ve also read plenty of wonderful Canadian novels this year, like my two favourites, The Very Marrow of Our Bones by Christine Higdon and Most Anything You Please by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole, but wasn’t surprised to see them left off this list given the eclectic nature of the jury this year. (But you should definitely be reading those two! And add Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley to your list too!)
Any guesses on which books might make the Shortlist (announced on October 1st)?
I’m a big short story fan and have read all the others you’ve listed so I am quite looking forward to Zolitude, although I do tend towards the traditional (Munro and Gallant and MacLeod, Deborah Willis and Kathy Page and K.D. Miller) so maybe this won’t be a perfect match for me either. Did it bring to mind any other short story collections you’ve tried and also found hard-to-reach?
Miriam Toews seemed a certainty to my mind, too, especially with the subject matter, but perhaps it’ll make a showing on the GG or the Writers’ Trust Awards lists instead. I’ve only read two, as well, Vi and the Lisa Moore, but I’m reading Rawi Hage and Sheila Heti right now, which is a great mix, because they require two totally different reading moods!
Tenth of December by George Saunders and Paradise and Elsewhere by Kathy Page might come a little close to the hard-to-reach collections, but they weren’t as out there as Zolitude’s. I saw this review on Goodreads afterwards that I thought summed them up nicely, saying they were obscure, left the reader in a cloud of confusion and left wondering what the hell was going on in these stories. YES!
I haven’t read Women Talking yet, but I do hope to see her on the GG or Writers Trust Award lists intead! I’ve seen reviews where Sheila Heti’s book really divides readers – one of those where you either adore it or you absolutely hate it. I can get that one through the library and will more than likely try to read it.
I’m looking forward to reading your participation on the Shadow Giller this year BIP! That was exciting to see that you’ll be taking part this year.
I love it when others join in with the Giller fun, and you seem to be well into it already! I’m reading Lisa Moore’s stories right now, and have Vi up next (I think). After that, it’s whatever shows up next at the library. It’s kind of nice to have the order of reading up to someone/something other than myself.
I was having the same problem here with Songs for the Cold of Heart, but saw that the Halifax library now has it. Whether or not they’ll send it to me, though, remains to be seen!
Yes! Also looking forward to seeing the GG and Writers’ Trust nominations! I’m on alert to Songs for the Cold of Heart – it’s a chunky one – but looks so interesting! I’ve had great success this year with my chunky reads!