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2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist revealed | Afterword | National Post

In Canada on September 20, 2010 at 13:11

[Updated: 12:05 p.m.]

Each year, when the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize is revealed, it has become tradition to study the nominees and then develop some type of diagnosis, like a doctor taking the temperature of Canada’s literary firmament. There’s too many men! There’s too few short story collections! The list is dominated by the big presses! Where are the poets?

This year, however, the longlist is a fairly balance affair, featuring six men and seven women, a mix of CanLit veterans and newcomers, a couple of short story collections, and a good showing by the small presses. (Alas, no poetry collections have been nominated, perhaps because they are ineligible).

The longlist for the 2010 Giller Prize, the country’s most prestigious literary award, was revealed on Monday morning. It features:

• David Bergen for The Matter With Morris (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins)

• Douglas Coupland for Player One (House of Anansi Press)

• Michael Helm for Cities of Refuge (McClelland & Stewart)

• Alexander MacLeod for his short story collection Light Lifting (Biblioasis)

• Avner Mandelman fo The Debba (Other Press/Random House of Canada)

• Tom Rachman for The Imperfectionists (Dial/Random House of Canada)

• Sarah Selecky for her short story collection This Cake Is For The Party (Thomas Allen Publishers)

• Johanna Skibsrud for The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press)

• Cordelia Strube for Lemon (Coach House Books)

• Joan Thomas for Curiosity (McClelland & Stewart)

• Jane Urquhart for Sanctuary Line (McClelland & Stewart)

• Dianne Warren for Cool Water (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins)

• Kathleen Winter for Annabel (House of Anansi Press)

“I just held the book in my hand for the first time yesterday, so that was kind of a surreal experience,” said Alexander MacLeod on the phone from a hotel room in Guelph, where he received the news. MacLeod, 38, is the son of acclaimed writer Alistair MacLeod, who won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel No Great Mischief. “I talked to dad … He was very, very happy, and so was I. So we just shared a good moment.”

The book is a collection of short stories set in-and-around Windsor, Ontario. “It represents about 13 years of work, I think. A long time,” he said. “I published my first story when I was 21 years old, and now I’m almost 40 and I have seven.”

David Bergen is the only former Giller Prize winner on the longlist; he won the prize in 2005 for The Time In Between and was longlisted in 2008 for The Retreat. Jane Urquhart was shortlisted in 2001 for The Stone Carvers, Michael Helm was shortlisted in 1997 for The Projectionists, while Douglas Coupland was longlisted in 2006 for jPod. Interestingly, Coupland’s novel Player One was written for The Massey Lectures, which he will deliver this fall.

This year’s jury, which includes Canadian journalist Michael Enright, American author Claire Messud, and UK writer Ali Smith, settled on the longlist of 13 books after considering 98 books submitted by 38  publishers from across Canada. Said the jury in a statement:

“This is a vibrant and exciting list. We came very harmoniously to our final decision, which, in the ranging of its featured books between astonishing debuts and brilliant new work by already well-known, major Canadian writers, and between the historical and the contemporary, the traditional and the experimental, the long, the short and the unexpected in both story and form, stands as a showcase in its own right of the vision, the energy, the internationalism and the open-eyed versatility of contemporary Canadian fiction.”

Books passed over by the jury include, Ilustrado by Montreal’s Miguel Syjuco, which won the Man Asian Literary Award before it was even published; Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel’s first novel since his breakthrough Life of Pi; and, most notably, Room by Emma Donoghue, which was recently shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

This year’s longlist features 11 novels and two short story collections; smaller publishing houses also made a strong showing, with nominations for the likes of Coach House Books, Biblioasis, and Gaspereau Press. McClelland & Stewart leads all publishers with three nominations.

The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, October 5. The $50,000 prize will be handed out at a gala ceremony on November 9.

Last year’s winner was Linden MacIntyre for The Bishop’s Man. Previous winners include Joseph Boyden, Mordecai Richler, and Alice Munro.

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