Shadow Giller juror Trevor Berrett has posted his review of Linden MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man — you can find the full review here. Here’s an excerpt to get you interested:
And so this reader comes to the end of the Giller shortlist, a journey I much enjoyed, even if some of the stops were not as pleasing as others. After venturing to Egypt, Cambodia, and ancient Macedon for the previous three Giller shortlisted titles, The Bishop’s Man (2009) brings us back to Canada, which is a fitting way to end one of Canada’s great literary prizes.
Though this book brings me back to Canada, the locale is no more familiar to me than, say, Egypt. (I hope I don’t muddle it up by my lack of familiarity). It takes place in Creignish, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, by the descriptions and tone of the book, a stunning and sobering isolated area. Our narrator is a priest, Father Duncan MacAskill. He is the Bishop’s man. In other words, in the last twenty years, whenever there has been a problem with a fellow priest, the Bishop sends Father MacAskill to handle the problem with speed and discretion. Father MacAskill’s voice is a nice mixture of hope and melancholy, and I enjoyed that combination as MacAskill himself leaned one way or the other throughout the book. Here is the mixture shown in the first paragraph of the novel:
“The night before things started to become unstuck, I actually spent a good hour taking stock of my general situation and concluded that, all things considered, I was in pretty good shape. I was approaching the age of fifty, a psychological threshold only slightly less daunting than death, and found myself not much changed from forty or even thirty. If anything, I was healthier. The last decade of the century, and of the millennium, was shaping up to be less stressful than the eighth — which had been defined by certain events in Central America — and the ninth, burdened as it was by scandals at home.”
And here's a link to my earlier review of the book — I should note that I am halfway through a second read and am more impressed this time around.
All three jurors have now completed their reading of the shortlist and deliberations have begun. Barring complications, I hope to post the announcement of the 2009 Shadow Giller Prize winner on Friday, Nov. 6. Please stop by and criticize our decision then (well, you can congratulate us on an excellent choice if you want as well).