We’re one week away from the announcement of the winner for the 2022 Giller Prize!
Another literary season in the books and another year of being a Shadow Giller jury member comes to a close.
I haven’t fully discussed any of these books with my Shadow Giller jury members yet, only a brief and quick, almost passing agreement with Lindy on the one we’re leaning towards as our winner. As past practice has dictated, we’ll come together the day before the official Giller Prize announcement and post which book we hope to see land the coveted prize. I’m thinking maybe we might all be in agreement this year? We shall see soon won’t we?
I’m only going to talk about my top 3 books here. These 3 are the best of the 5 in my opinion, and to be honest, if any of these books are to be crowned the official winner, you would hear no disappointment from me. However there is one that I do place as my top choice and I am hoping it is the actual winner.
I’ll start with my 3rd place choice:
A beautifully written debut, absolutely, but one where I must be honest in saying I struggled to always want to be reading it. I never felt compelled to return to it, indeed I put it aside each time another one of the other Giller shortlisted titles arrived from the library. While it is truly a beautiful story and I can fully appreciate why it is on the Giller Shortlist, my personal feelings when reading ebbed and flowed. A story telling of Tibetan exiles and the generational impact this has on family members, it is a story about people being removed from their place, their land, about now finding their place, and their identity, their sense of belonging. The parts where I was most engaged are in the modern-day parts with Dolma, where she recognizes the unnamed statue, an important statue for her family, and the meaning and purpose behind this discovery, but also how these artifacts are used in “collections” and museum pieces. I’ll never properly describe this, but it is what I found to be most compelling aspects of this novel. Truthfully however, I did feel it was drawn out and as I said above, my feelings ebbed and flowed for it overall.
“Twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange…” (taken from Goodreads description.) I can’t think of a better way of describing these stories, that now, long after I’ve finished, I’m still thinking of them. Therefore, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century sits firmly in my Top 3 for the 2022 Giller Prize.
These stories have taken the ordinary and taken ordinary circumstances but added a fantastical element to them. The ones that had more of this fantastical were the ones I loved the most. Stories like “Liddy, First to Fly” for instance, is about girls coming of age, finding their boundaries but doing so featuring Liddy having wings on her ankles. “The Doll” was hands-down my favourite in this collection. A very Stephen-King-esque tale, I loved it. Rounding out my favourites were “June Bugs” and “Bridezilla“. The more I reflect on this collection, the more I feel it’s place here and one to be strongly in the running for the Giller Prize. Will another short story collection be crowned the winner on November 7th? I’m not sure about that being the case, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was the announcement made at the end of the ceremony either.
The Sleeping Car Porter, with its gorgeous cover and its card-stock like paper which this wonderful tale of Baxter is written on, is the one I hope takes the prize. Effortlessly and subtly Mayr has constructed this story about racism, discrimination, identity, invisibility, working class lives….We’re taken on a historical journey via train where it integrates so much (I’m really not able to eloquently describe it) and it’s all done through this beautifully rendered character named Baxter. I can’t think of a better work of fiction deserving of a literary prize than this one.
Do my fellow Shadow Giller jury members feel the same? That will be coming to you on Sunday, November 6th.