Shadow Giller Jury announces call-in title


11shadow logoFor the first time in its 19 year history, the Shadow Giller Jury has decided to include a call-in title when it considers this year’s shortlist: The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden. The decision was unanimous — two members of the Shadow Jury have read it and found it excellent, the other two (one of them is KfC) are looking forward to it.

Boyden has already won the Giller in 2008 for Through Black Spruce, volume two in a projected trilogy. When the longlist was announced (and The Orenda had just been released) I mistakenly said it was the third volume — it is not.

1aaboydenThe Shadow Jury will treat The Orenda simply as a sixth title on our short list. You will eventually see reviews here as well as at Reading Matters and the Mookse and the Gripes — Alison will offer her thoughts on one of our blogs.

As usual, the Shadow Jury will make its deliberations transparent. In the event that the call-in title wins our Prize, we will conduct a second vote that is limited to the five titles of the Real Jury shortlist.

None of us has yet reviewed The Orenda. In the meantime, here is the publisher’s description of the novel:

A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world.

As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux.

The 2013 Real Giller Jury is already under intense scrutiny as a result of its decision to leave Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, winner of the Booker Prize, off the Giller long list. I have read it — and it certainly would have made my shortlist. The Shadow Giller Jury’s decision to add another call-in can only further lead to questions about the ability of this year’s Real Jury. Your comments and thoughts, as usual, are more than welcome. And if our call-in title does win the Shadow Giller, I will be encouraging my fellow jurors to read Catton’s Booker winner and offer yet another vote on the best “Canadian” book of the year.


8 Responses to “Shadow Giller Jury announces call-in title”

  1. Marie Thompson Says:

    What’s a ‘call-in title?’


    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Alison has answered your question below. In the United Kingdom, the Booker Prize jury is required to “call-in” at least eight titles that have not been submitted (the publishers usually send letters saying “consider this one as well” — the rules allow them to recommend five titles in addition to those they have submitted) — the jury is allowed to call-in as many as 12.


  2. kimbofo Says:

    Yay! Very excited by this!


  3. Alison Says:

    The ‘real’ Giller jury is allowed to call in titles that may have not been submtted to the jury by the publishers (as they are limited to very few, 2 I think per publisher), so a call-in allows a jury to include a book that they want to consider that would otherwise be excluded.


  4. David Says:

    I too was very surprised when ‘The Orenda’ was absent from the shortlist, but it is also not on the Rogers Writers Trust shortlist, and I’d love to know the reasoning of both juries for leaving it off. Did they honestly consider (for example) Dennis Bock’s and Cary Fagan’s novels to be better books? I’ve not read the Boyden yet, but I’ve read Bock and Fagan and it seems highly unlikely. Yes, Boyden has won both awards before but is he now considered the kind of established Name of whom it would be fair to say “he’s had his go, time to give someone else a chance”? Surely awards should go to the best book even if that means one exceptional author winning repeatedly.

    But “calling it in” when it was submitted, longlisted, and left behind? Hmm… not entirely sure that is playing by the rules of the game, though I know why you’ve done it and think it will be very interesting to see if it “wins”, as I suspect it will given the decent but not stellar competition.

    In the meantime I’m going to call in Michael Winter’s ‘Minister Without Portfolio’ to my own personal shortlist – so far he’s got it in the bag 😉


    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      After 18 years playing strictly by the rules, we figured it was fair to “play with them” just once. Mainly it was because we wanted to read and comment on the book.

      Given your high opinion of Michael Winter’s novel, I’ll be putting it on the top of my post-Giller shortlist pile (which only has two books on it, including The Orenda) — time is running short, but it too might yet get called-in. 🙂


  5. Tony Says:

    Playing by their rules is boring anyway – in both the years I’ve taken part in the IFFP Shadowing, we’ve simply picked our own six from the longlist 😉


    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      One of the reasons that I have enjoyed the Giller for all 20 of its years is that the longlist always contains names that I don’t know — and more often than not I find those books to be of value. If they left enough time between the long and short list, we would probably look at the possibility of coming up with our own. As things are now, there isn’t even time to get books to Trevor and Kim so they don’t really get started until after the shortlist is out. And I don’t think the Shadow Jury will be standing out like a sore thumb this year either — as I mentioned in the post, Catton’s Booker win (after she didn’t even make the Giller longlist) already has started some controversy.


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