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Justin Hosker


Giller Prize Nominees for Fiction 2011

Posted: 10/16/11 09:59 AM ET

With the announcement of the Booker Shortlist, it begun -- a great time in the books world; award season is upon us. Although Canadian representation on the Booker list was exceptional (two of five), we now move on to our own country's awards.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize has now whittled down their longlist -- the shortlist has been revealed. As usual, there are surprises, but not as many as last year. Booker Shortlistees Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt are on the Giller shortlist, for their novels Half Blood Blues, and The Sisters Brothers, respectively.

Conspicuous by their absence are Wayne Johnston and Guy Vanderhaeghe. Alexi Zentner's debut novel,
the Northern Gothic Touch was extraordinarily well reviewed, yet didn't make the cut. Marina Endicott, finalist for Good to a Fault (which also picked up the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize) was not so lucky for her second novel, The Little Shadows. Speaking of second books, it is surprising how many of them are here -- Bezmozgis, deWitt, and Edugyan are all sophomore efforts -- and no sophomore slumps clearly.

The good news for Johnston, Vanderhaeghe, Endicott and all the other snubbed longlisters is that there's another chance for them -- the Governor General's Literary Awards shortlist will be revealed on Oct. 11.

But let's look at the 2011 Giller Shortlist: a charismatic collection of authors; young and old, hungry as well as established, and all producers of vibrant fiction.

Michael Ondaatje, "The Cat's Table"
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I have to admit that if I were any of the other authors on the list, this would be the competition that scares me. Common consensus on The Cat's Table is that this is the best novel Michael Ondaatje has produced in years. Of course, another way to look at it is that perhaps the jury will be reluctant to reward him yet again; as in, "He's got his, now let's give the nod to someone else... a new voice, or a young voice, perhaps?"

Previously covered in the Indigo Fiction Blog (where its quality and sensibility were dubbed "beautiful"), you can see an in-depth review of The Cat's Table here.
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