The Giller Prize longlist is out, with some entirely predictable choices (Margaret Atwood, Anne Michaels); a number of surprises (small publishing houses did well this year) and some even more surprising omissions (previous winner Bonnie Burnard’s Suddenly, Michael Crummey’s Galore and Lisa Moore’s February all come to mind). You can find the list at the newly-revamped Scotiabank Giller Prize site here — an even better list where you can click through to publisher blurbs is at amazon.ca here.
(EDIT: Shadow Giller judge Trevor Berrett has posted a review of Michael Crummey's Galore. It does a very good job of showing why Galore missed the longlist.)
I have only read and reviewed two of the books that made the longlist — Anne Michaels The Winter Vault and Kim Echlin’s The Disappeared. While I found the first half of the Michaels to be strong, I certainly thought the book lost its way in the second half. I think the Echlin book was a very interesting and worthwhile concept — I’m not sure the execution was completely successful.
The Shadow Giller jury does not attempt to have every member read all of the longlist; this year offers a good example of why. The Canadian publishing season is “back-end loaded” with fall releases and, even more important, Giller longlists in good years pay attention to small publishers (I’d say four on this year’s list). So here is what our approach will be:
— I have Colin McAdam’s Fall and Paulette Jiles The Colour of Lightning on hand and Shani Mootoo’s Valmiki’s Daughter was ordered already but isn’t scheduled for publication until Nov. 1 (I’ll try to find an ARC somewhere), so watch out for those three here.
— Neither Alison Gzowski nor I have a taste for Margaret Atwood’s “speculative” fiction so we have asked fellow judge Trevor Berrett to be our first round reader of The Year of the Flood. He will post on his blog (The Mookse and the Gripes) and I will link from here when he does. I’ve agreed that if Trevor thinks the book is good and is a legitimate contender I will overcome my distaste and give it a try.
— Alison will read Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean, Kate Pullinger’s The Mistress of Nothing and Martha Baillie’s The Incident Report. Alison doesn’t blog, but we will find a way of posting her thoughts here.
— I’ll be ordering the remaining three — Claire Holden Rothman’s The Heart Specialist, Jeannette Lynes’ The Factory Voice and Linden McIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man — so we will try to offer at least one reader’s opinion on each longlist title at some point, although I’m not sure we can meet that Oct. 6 shortlist deadline.
We will do our best to give you a full rundown and reviews once the shortlist is announced. Given that the two “names” — Atwood and Michaels — seem to have produced rather weak books, it looks to be a wide open Giller this year. If you have read any of the titles, your thoughts are certainly welcome. Happy Giller reading.