This morning in Toronto, publishers, media, and writers gathered for the announcement of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist. 2017 winner Michael Redhill was in attendance, as well as Toronto bookseller Ben McNally, and representatives from each nominated publisher.
CBC's Gill Deacon welcomed guests and got the crowd laughing as the anticipatory buzz ramped up. Elana Rabinovitch, Executive Director of the prize organization and daughter of founder Jack Rabinovitch (who passed away in 2017) acknowledged the hard work done by the jury, who read over 100 works of fiction from across the country to determine their lists. This year's jury was comprised of Heather O’Neill, John Freeman, Kamal Al-Solyalee (jury chair), Maxine Bailey, and Philip Hensher.
The jurors (excluding Freeman, who was unable to attend) announced an interesting shortlist that mixed previous nominees with new names and fresh faces. Notably, Thea Lim made it through to the shortlist for her debut, An Ocean of Minutes. Previous Giller winner Esi Edugyan and past nominee Patrick DeWitt were also included, as well as Eric Dupont, a Quebec novelist widely celebrated in French Canada, whose Songs for the Cold of Heart is a work in translation (the jury praised the translation, calling it "as exquisite as a snowflake"). The final title on the list is Sheila Heti's international bestseller Motherhood, a book which inspired countless essays on the subject matter of art, womanhood, and child rearing.
It's one of the most interesting Giller shortlists in recent years, featuring humour (the jury called DeWitt's novel "indecently funny"), fantastical elements (Lim's novel features a time travelling protagonist), and other literary experimentations that don't always show up on more traditional prize lists. Edugyan's powerhouse novel, which is nominated for multiple prizes this year, feels like a frontrunner, but the eclectic list makes predicting a winner excitingly difficult.
The 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist:
- Patrick DeWitt for his novel French Exit (House of Anansi Press)
- Eric Dupont for his novel Songs for the Cold of Heart, translated by Peter McCambridge (Baraka Books)
- Esi Edugyan for her novel Washington Black (Patrick Crean Editions)
- Sheila Heti for her novel Motherhood (Knopf Canada)
- Thea Lim for her novel An Ocean of Minutes (Viking Press)
The winner, who will take home the $100,000 prize, will be announced on November 19 at an event broadcast by CBC. The announcement this morning also confirmed that beloved CBC personality Rick Mercer, who himself has a book coming out this fall, will return to host the Giller ceremony for a third time.