TORONTO — Vancouver-born Madeleine Thien could walk away with two of the biggest awards in fiction this fall as she joins a female-dominated list of finalists for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
The Montreal-based author was named to the short list for the $100,000 prize on Monday for "Do Not Say We Have Nothing'' (Knopf Canada), which is set in China before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The novel is also in the running for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, which will be awarded Oct. 25.
Thien is one of six finalists for this year's Giller — five of whom are women.
Acclaimed Irish-born, London, Ont.-based author Emma Donoghue was recognized for her mysterious novel "The Wonder'' (HarperCollins). She made the long list four years ago for "The Sealed Letter.''
Author Emma Donoghue.
The Giller honour continues a steady stream of recognition in 2016 for Donoghue, who nabbed an adapted screenplay Oscar nomination earlier this year for her celebrated novel "Room.''
"(For) Canadian writers, I don't think anything gives us quite as much of a glow as getting on any Giller list. It's got such a great reputation, this prize,'' Donoghue said in a recent phone interview.
Montreal-born author Mona Awad was recognized for her debut "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl'' (Penguin Random House Canada), which already received the $40,000 Amazon.ca First Novel Award in May.
Montreal's Catherine Leroux was honoured for "The Party Wall,'' translated by Lazer Lederhendler (Biblioasis International Translation Series), and Toronto-based Zoe Whittall made the cut for "The Best Kind of People'' (House of Anansi Press).
Hamilton-based Gary Barwin is the lone male author on this year's short list for his novel "Yiddish for Pirates'' (Random House Canada).
The jury, chaired by Lawrence Hill, read 161 books submitted by 69 publisher imprints. The short list of six titles was selected from a long list of 12 works announced earlier this month.
Author Madeleine Thien.
"I have had the disappointment of being left off long lists and short lists, and I've had the luck of being the winner of some prizes. I know what it's like to be left off — and that hurts,'' said Hill, award-winning author of the national bestseller "The Book of Negroes.''
"We just thought that there were a lot of wonderful books, and we just refused to contain it to five because there were just too many good books out there.
"It's always nice to have a sixth book on there,'' Hill added. "It means another writer is recognized. Another writer will get a big jolt of publicity and attention. It makes a huge difference in a writer's life — especially if that writer is not already famous.''
The books selected all "reflect the different things a novel can do,'' said jury member and Canadian writer Jeet Heer.
"I really feel there's something in that short list for anybody.''
Author and jury chair, Lawrence Hill.
Joining Hill and Heer on this year's jury are fellow Canadian writer Kathleen Winter, British author Samantha Harvey and Scottish writer Alan Warner.
A series of special readings will be held in celebration of this year's authors in Halifax on Oct. 14, Vancouver on Oct. 17 and Toronto on Nov. 6.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists.
The prize is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.
Andre Alexis was awarded the 2015 prize for "Fifteen Dogs.''
"The Debaters'' host Steve Patterson will host this years's Scotiabank Giller Prize gala, which will air on CBC-TV and be livestreamed at CBCBooks.ca on Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. ET.
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