Giller Prize Longlist 2009

The longlist for the Giller Prize 2009 was announced yesterday. The Giller prize is awarded annually to the best Canadian fiction. The titles to make it through were:

  • The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  • The Incident Report – Martha Bailie
  • The Disappeared – Kim Echlin
  • The Heart Specialist  – Claire Holden Rothman
  • The Color of Lighting – Paulette Jiles
  • The Factory Voice – Jeanette Lynes
  • The Golden Mean – Annabel Lyon
  • The Bishop’s Man – Linden MacIntyre
  • Fall – Colin McAdam
  • The Winter Vault – Anne Michaels
  • Valmiki’s Daughter – Shani Mootoo
  • The Mistress of Nothing – Kate Pullinger

The only authors I had heard of were Anne Michaels and Margaret Atwood, but a quick browse through the list of previous books to make the shortlist revealed a lot of ones that I not only recognised, but also loved. Although I am not planning to read the entire longlist, or even the shortlist when it is announced on 6th October, I am going to pay much more attention to this prize in the future.

I am planning to read a few books shortlisted for the Giller prize soon.

Next week I am going to read De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage. This was originally recommended to me by Claire from Kiss a Cloud. It won the 2008 International IMPAC Literary Award, but I didn’t realise it had been shortlisted for the Giller as well.

I am also planning to read Alligator by Lisa Moore soon. I discovered it at a car boot sale and loved the cover and blurb. I have never heard anyone mention it before though – have you read Alligator?

On twitter yesterday we were discussing the Giller prize; Nymeth recommended Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson and Claire recommended The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak. I ordered both, so I’ll get round to reading them at some point too.

I’d like to remind you that my favourite book won the Giller Prize in 2001. If you haven’t read A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry yet – you are missing out!

Do you follow the Giller Prize?

Which is your favourite book from the Giller Prize shortlists?

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  1. Violet says:

    I saw A Fine Balance at the sale but I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. I feel bad now.

    Valmiki’s Daughter sounds really interesting, I’m not sure I’ve heard of that before.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I haven’t heard of Valmiki’s Daughter (or most of the other books on the list!) before. They are all so tempting.

      Don’t feel bad about not getting A Fine Balance – I’m sure you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to get a copy.

  2. Claire says:

    Jackie, trusted sources tell me that The Garneau Block is great but the Giller Prize shortlisted novels that I absolutely recommend from personal experience are Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald and Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb (and, of course, A Fine Balance which is truly outstanding).

    I look forward to casually reading from this prize’s selections. From our discussion yesterday I had a look at some of this year’s list and The Heart Specialist definitely appeals. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I’ve just found a copy of Sweetness in the Belly on bookmooch, so that should arrive sometime soon! I’ve added Fall on your Knees to the wishlist. Thank you for the recommendations!

      1. Claire says:

        Great! I’m not sure how you’ll find Sweetness in the Belly but I think you’ll love Fall on Your Knees. For some reason (perhaps proximity in reading) FoYN is linked in my mind with A Fine Balance… although they have extremely different subject matters they are both the most devastating books I have ever read.

  3. Molly says:

    You are always educating me — and I am grateful to you for that!

    I have never heard of the Giller Prize, nor many of the books on its long list, but I am thrilled to know of another resource for quality contemporary literature.

    I look forward to reading your Giller book reviews!

    1. Jackie says:

      Molly, Thank you! More books to add to the TBR pile!

  4. Alice Teh says:

    I don’t follow the list. I only know Margaret Atwood…

    1. Jackie says:

      Alice, The Atwood is probably one of the least appealing books on the list (I wasn’t a fan of The Blind Assassin) but I’ll wait until I see a few more reviews of it before deciding whether or not to read it.

  5. Dan Holloway says:

    I’ve been meaning to get to A Fine Balance for a long time. As it’s your favourite book that’s about the last push I need. Made the mistake of going to a bookshop to ask about it stocking my book yesterday, though and, needless to say, came away with mission successful but bag no lighter. Mistry will have to wait, therefor, a little longer. I did find a paperback translation of Banana Yoshimoto’s goodbye tsugumi, which I’ve been looking for for ages and am very excited about.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, I enjoy reading Yoshimoto, but I haven’t read that one. I hope you have better luck with the book soon.

      1. Dan Holloway says:

        I’ve already finished it :( and :) at once. I LOVE novellas, but they make me nervous. Half an hour and they’re gone!

        I DID have good luck with the book. The shop was happy to stock it, but I ended up buying as many books as I left there!

        1. Jackie says:

          Dan, I’m pleased to hear the bookshop are willing to stock your book – I hope the copies fly out of the door!

  6. Beth F says:

    I don’t follow this prize either (though I have heard of it). Sad to say only Atwood rings a bell with me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, Anne Micheals won the Orange prize a few years ago for Fugitive Pieces. Does that ring a bell? Otherwise I haven’t heard of the others either. I do like lists of new-to-me authors though.

  7. Suey says:

    I don’t really follow this paritcular prize, but, A Fine Balance is on my favorites of all-time list! What a book that is!

    1. Jackie says:

      Suey, I’m pleased to hear that you enjoyed it as much as I did!

  8. Stephanie says:

    I’ve actually never heard of The Giller Prize but I am not shocked to see Margaret Atwood on it!

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, I know! I was surprised she wasn’t on the Booker longlist, but I haven’t read the book, so don’t know how good it is.

  9. claire says:

    As you know I’m quite smitten with DeNiro’s Game. Not sure how you’ll like it, but I really hope you do! I’m hoping to read Mistry soon. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I’ve had a quck flick through De Niro’s Game and it does look good. I’ll let you know soon!

  10. Verity says:

    I’ve never heard of this prize before, and like you have only heard of Atwood and Michaels, so I’ll be interested to see what you enjoy from this list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, There are so many great books on that list I don’t know where to start! I’ll let you know if I discover any gems!

  11. caite says:

    The only book on that list I am familiar with is The Year of The Flood by Atwood. I quite liked it….and really have to get that review written.

    1. caite says:

      Decided to ‘reply’ to myself rather than double post…I just found it interesting to note, when I looked at the authors at the web site, that of the 12 nominees, 10 are women.
      As I said, I just found that interesting.

      1. Jackie says:

        Caite, I noticed that too! 10 women is very impressive – it is refreshing to see as normally the genders are split the other way.

  12. Simon S says:

    One day I will get my mitts on A Fine Balance as I want to read all of the Book Groups favourites at some point!

    Never heard of this prize but think am going to avoid anymore prize lists for a while.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, Yes – I’m avoiding prize lists until the Orange next year, but I am going to read a few of the older books from this prize.

      I was tempted to read all the favourites from the book group list too. I’m reading Rebecca with Sandy & co in October, so that is a great way to start.

  13. Steph says:

    I am Canadian and yet have never really followed the Giller prize! That being said, this year has definitely been one in which I’ve read more Canadian authors than in years past (I don’t go out of my way to NOT read Canadian authors, but I suppose that apart from highschool English courses, I never really went out of my way to read them either), so I might get some good inspiration from the list. I am always a tad embarrassed when these prizes are announced and I have no idea who any of the nominees were (apart from the big names like Atwood).

    So far inadvertently I’ve read two books on this list – “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood and “Fall” by Colin McAdam. Of the two, I liked the Atwood better, and I guess I won’t be surprised if it wins the prize outright, since Atwood is always hot.

    Never read A Fine Balance. I know I should, but it’s so long! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, I think reading two of the books is quite a good achievement. Does the Giller Prize get much press coverage in Canada? It gets none here (not surprising really).

      I like it when unknown authors get nominated for these prizes. I hate the predictability of some book prizes – I always like discovering new talent.

  14. Louise says:

    I was recommended A Fine Balance literally years ago – must’ve been back in 2002 or 2003. I wonder why I never read it though, but seeing you recommending it here made me think about it, and since I am pretty sure it has been translated into Danish, then I can probably get it from the library :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Louise, A Fine Balance has been translated into loads of languages. I hope you manage to find a copy and love it as much as I did.

  15. raidergirl3 says:

    You’re talking Giller Prize today? *pulls up a chair and settles in*

    Some of my favorite Giller Winners include:
    – Clara Callen, which I just read this summer, fab
    – A Fine Balance, natch, on my top favorite list
    – Mercy Among the Children, lots to discuss here, but that’s what makes it good. Set in NB, just over the Strait from me
    – A Good House, made a great impression on my when I read it ten years ago.

    Other short listed books that I’ve enjoyed:
    – DeNiro’s Game, very powerful, loved, loved
    – The White Bone, about elephants, liked a lot
    – The Colony of Requited Dreams, has been recommended to me many times

    On the list this year, I read The Bishop’s Man and quite liked it but it’s the only one I’ve read. It seems very Canadian to have so many women nominated, and I’m not even sure why that is.
    I’m also interested in The Incident Report.

    Atwood and Michaels are the only ones, other than MacIntyre (he’s a TV investigative reporter), that I am familiar with, and I’m mixed on both. I’ve liked some Atwood – Alias Grace and Handmaid’s Tale, I didn’t like The Blind Assassin much. And I really didn’t get Fugitive Pieces at all.

    I look forward to your views!

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, Thank you so much for the informative comment! We have very similar taste in books – I didn’t like Blind Assassin and found Fugitive Pieces to be a mixture of genius and rubbish!

      I’m pleased to see that you loved De Niro’s Game too. I’ll keep an eye out for your other recommendations – thanks again!

  16. Megan says:

    Whenever I see this short list announced, I always think that I’d like to read more extensively from it. The books always sound excellent, and though I’ve got a few on my TBR pile, including the aforementioned A Fine Balance, I’ve yet to get around to them. What am I waiting for? LOL!

    1. Jackie says:

      Megan, What are you waiting for? Get A Fine Balance out now! LOL! I hope you enjoy it!

  17. softdrink says:

    I actually have read Alligator! I got sucked in by the cover and blurb, too, although it ended up being a bit of a disappointment. Here’s hoping you enjoy it more than I did!

    1. Jackie says:

      softdrink, Oh no! It looked so good! I’ll lower my expectations a bit now. Thanks for the warning.

  18. Samantha says:

    I heard about the Giller Prize only last year when Joseph Boyden won it for Through The Black Spruce – he was a recent guest at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. I think this is definitely an award to watch. I will await your verdict on Cockroach as this has been hovering about my wishlist for a while.

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