Billy-Ray Belcourt, Sheila Heti and Rawi Hage are among the notable names on the Scotiabank Giller Prize long list.
Last year’s winner Omar El Akkad revealed the 14 titles vying for the $100,000 honor at an event in St. John’s, NL, on Tuesday. The finalists will be announced on September 27.
Independent presses more than weighed in on this year’s long list, securing eight collective nominations. Publishing giants were always well represented, backing several awards darlings in hopes of adding the Giller to their collections.
Belcourt, a Cree scholar who became the youngest winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2018, is proving to be a multi-genre prodigal talent with his Giller-nominated debut novel “A Minor Chorus.”
The book, published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Random House Canada, centers on an Indigenous queer narrator who abandons his doctoral thesis to return to northern Alberta in hopes of writing a novel about his hometown.
Heti, who was a Giller finalist for “Motherhood” in 2018, is up for repeat success with “Pure Colour,” her new novel about “art, love, death and time,” from Knopf Canada /Penguin Random House Canada.
Another returning contender at Giller was Hage, who earned his fourth nomination for “Stray Dogs,” also from Knopf Canada, a collection of short stories from around the world that follows an array of travelers looking for a connection.
The Lebanese-Canadian writer was shortlisted for the award in 2006 for ‘De Niro’s Game’ and 2008 for ‘Cockroach’, and made the 2018 long list for ‘Beirut Hellfire Society’.
Meanwhile, Montreal-born, Los Angeles-based writer Antoine Wilson’s “Mouth to Mouth” has earned spots on Giller’s long list and former US President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2022.
The novel, published by Simon & Schuster Canada, tells the story of an art dealer whose life changed when he saved a man from drowning.
The Giller also recognized two Indigenous coming-of-age stories that were shortlisted for this year’s Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Septuagenarian debut novelist Brian Thomas Isaac has been nominated for Touchwood Editions’ All the Quiet Places, about a Syilx boy discovering what lies beyond his home on the Okanagan Indian Reservation in the south-central British Columbia.
Metis-Ukrainian writer and educator Conor Kerr won the award for Avenue of Champions, published by Nightwood Editions, a book of interconnecting short stories that revolves around a Metis boy and his connection to Edmonton’s urban Aboriginal community.
Rounding out Giller’s long list were:
— Fawn Parker, who lives in Toronto and Fredericton, for her McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada novel “What We Both Know” about a woman struggling with the legacy of her famous father.
— Tsering Yangzom Lama, from Vancouver, for her debut novel, “We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies,” a multi-generational saga about a Tibetan family struggling with the toll of life in exile, published by McClelland & Stewart. — Suzette Mayr of Calgary for her novel, “The Sleeping Car Porter,” published by Coach House Books, about a queer black sleeping car porter making a dangerous journey from Montreal to Vancouver in 1929.
— Noor Naga, who studied in Toronto and lives in Cairo, for his novel “If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English”, about a romance linked to the politics of empire, published by Graywolf Press.
— André Narbonne, from Windsor, Ontario, for his novel “Lucien & Olivia”, a satire on the transactional nature of modern relationships, published by Black Moss Press.
— André Forget, who divides his time between Toronto and Sheffield, England, for his first novel “In the City of Pigs”, published by Dundurn Press, about the struggles of artistic creation under the pressures of late capitalism.
– Canadian-born, Seattle-based Kim Fu for “Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century,” a short story book that blurs the lines between the real and the fantastic, published by Coach House Books,
— Dimitri Nasrallah, from Montreal, for his novel “Hotline”, published by Vehicule Press, a story from the 1980s about an immigrant woman from Lebanon in Canada.
The 14 nominees were chosen from 138 books submitted by Canadian publishers, organizers said.
This year’s jury includes Canadian authors Casey Plett, Kaie Kellough and Waubgeshig Rice, as well as American authors Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer.
The Giller awards $100,000 each year to the author of the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or collection of short stories published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists.
The Giller was created by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994 in memory of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 6, 2022.