Throughout its 16 year history, the Shadow Giller Jury has never attempted to predict a shortlist. Canadian novels tend to be published in the early fall and the short time between the longlist and shortlist announcements (15 days this year) means that none of us has the chance to read all 13 longlist books — indeed, this year we are proud that between the three of us we have read 11 (I think that will reach 12 today) of the 13.
But we are breaking with tradition (perhaps establishing a new one) this year. The Real Giller has an absolutely super contest that we cannot ignore getting involved in — you can win one of 60 sets of autographed copies of all five shortlisted books (alas, you have to have a Canadian address to enter the contest — maybe they will make it international in future years). You can access the entry screen by clicking on the image below:
This is a very winnable contest for serious readers, especially those who visit this blog, with an excellent prize. At the time of writing this post the leading choice (and remember you have to pick five) has fewer than 900 votes — my calculation says there are only about 1,100 entries with only two days to go, and there are 60 prizes. So, to help out potential entrants who visit this site, here are some thoughts from the Shadow Jury on what books deserve to be on the shortlist.
From Kevin the chair:
I have read eight of the 13 and have four shortlist favorites and a three-way consideration for the final position (including two books that I have not read). Listed alphabetically by author (you can find links to the full reviews in the sidebar on the right), they are:
1. Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod. A most impressive debut short story collection that I intend to re-read soon. It captures story, character and history in every story — a wonderful composite portrait of industrial life in the Windsor-Detroit automotive area.
2. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. The most enjoyable book that I have read this year, by a long shot. Maybe an outside contender for the short list since it is all set in Rome, but the magnificent writing would ensure a place for me.
3. Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart. The current favorite in the Giller contest and I can understand why. A contemplative, introspective portrait of change, as viewed from an orchard farm on the shores of Lake Erie. An excellent novel from an excellent writer.
4. Annabel by Kathleen Winter. This book may be “too Canadian” for the jury, but I certainly was impressed by it. A child of intersex gender is born to a Labrador family — father, mother and best friend try to come to terms with his/her future, as does the child him/herself.
5. My threeway dilemma. Of those I have read, Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm — I had problems with this story of illegal immigrants in Toronto, but could understand why the jury might choose it. Lemon by Cordelia Strube — I haven’t read it but Trevor’s review has made me interested. Player One by Douglas Coupland — can the Real Jury resist promoting a print version of the CBC Massey Lecture series, from an internationally-well-known author, onto the shortlist?
I have made an entry in the contest and should (shudder) I win, it will be put up as a prize here in the future. I hope other visitors find it in themselves to enter — and please share with us in comments both your entries and, I hope, your successful results.