Few big names survive Giller's pared-down list

Judges shed penchant for established writers

Article by Paul Gessell, Vancouver Sun
October 4, 2006

M ost of the big names -- and the big publishers -- disappeared as the Scotiabank Giller Prize judges pared their 15-author long list into a five-person short list.

Out of the running for the prestigious $40,000 fiction prize, to be awarded Nov. 7, are such prominent authors as Douglas Coupland (jPod), Wayne Johnston (The Custodian of Paradise), David Adams Richards (The Friends of Meager Fortune) and Alan Cumyn (The Famished Lover).

Instead, the Giller judges shed their reputation for favouring established writers and nominated five less-familiar names.

Carol Windley, of Nanaimo, made the cut with her story collection, Home Schooling.

(Earlier, she told the Vancouver Sun that in the book, "I tried to concentrate on the family as the first place where you experience what it means to be human. The child is educated by the parents, but not always in the way that is intended.")

Joining her on the short list are such newcomers as Montreal-based Lebanese immigrant Rawi Hage (De Niro's Game) and Toronto emergency-room doctor Vincent Lam (Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures). The best-known name on the list is probably Quebec's Gaetan Soucy. He was nominated for The Immaculate Conception, which was first published in French in 1994 and quickly turned him into one of French-Canada's literary stars.

Another Quebec book translated from French was also nominated. Pascale Quiviger's The Perfect Circle earlier won the French-language fiction category in the Governor General's Literary Awards.

Hage and Soucy will appear at the Vancouver International Writers Festival later this month.

The judges for this year's Giller are former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson and authors Alice Munro and Michael Winter.

Hours before the shortlist was announced Tuesday in Toronto, BookNet Canada, a firm that tabulates book sales, announced that based on analysis of previous winners, it had found that a Giller Prize win can increase sales more than any other prize in Canada -- twice as much as winning the Governor General's Award for fiction.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006