The 2020 Giller Prize Shortlist

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Well! Today was surprising for the Giller Prize shortlist announcement. We (meaning the Shadow Giller jury) each predicted six (6) titles only to find today’s list was five (5). There were also a few surprises on that list!

I’ll list the Shortlist first and then give my thoughts below it!

  • Gil Adamson, for her novel Ridgerunner, published by House of Anansi Press
  • David Bergen, for his short story collection Here The Dark, published by Biblioasis
  • Shani Mootoo, for her novel Polar Vortex, published by Book*hug Press
  • Emily St. John Mandel, for her novel The Glass Hotel, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
  • Souvankham Thammavongsa, for her short story collection How To Pronounce Knife, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

For me, what was surprising was to see David Bergen’s Here the Dark on the list. The short story collection I anticipated to see on the list next to How to Pronounce Knife (thrilled to see that there! It deserved to be there for sure!) was Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough! Even though I haven’t read it yet, I did go out and purchase in excitement that I figured it would be on the Longlist, which it was, but fully thought it was something that the judges would choose for the Shortlist too.

The other surprise for me was not finding Clyde Fans by Seth on the Shortlist. To be honest, I had it pegged as the winner! It’s bold and different but has so many wonderful layers to it! A deep and wonderful read. Would have thought that since this was the first year they allowed graphic novels, this would have made the Shortlist.

All three of us on the Shadow Jury that posted their prediction list had Annabel Lyon’s Consent there too. To not find it there is a little disappointing and maybe for me, I’m disappointed to find The Glass Hotel on the Shortlist over Consent. This means I have to go back and finish reading The Glass Hotel for my shadow jury duties. ;-) I put that one on the DNF pile a few weeks ago. Maybe if I listen to the audiobook I might have more success with it? I’ve put the audiobook on hold at the library, so hopefully it arrives soon!

I was the only one to put Ridgerunner on my prediction list and it was a thrill to see it be the first one mentioned today! I’m only a small ways into it, but I am really enjoying it. I do like Adamson’s style of writing so it’s going well and that will be the first book of the three I have to read still that I finish.

Polar Vortex is not a surprising title to see there. While I struggled with it for a few reasons, it was its ending I found excellent and it was a book that played over and over in my mind after I finished. I still wouldn’t pull for it to win the overall prize, but I’m not displeased to find it on the Shortlist. It would make for an excellent book club pick because there is plenty of discussion that would come from it.

What did you think of today’s announcement? Any surprises for you?

The Shadow Jury is off now to read each of the 5 books in order to determine our winner. Each of us only successfully picked two books each for the Shortlist, so will choosing our winner be better aligned with the judges official pick? Stayed tuned until November 9th (for us we choose our winner for November 8th) to find out!