2014 Giller Prize longlist

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Here’s the Giller Prize longlist — if you click on the image it will take you to the publisher’s page with an extended description:

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu

The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis

The Betrayers, by David Bezmogis

American Innovations, by Rivka Galchen

American Innovations, by Rivka Galchen

Tell, by Frances Itani

Tell, by Frances Itani

Watch How We Walk, by Jennifer LoveGrove

Watch How We Walk, by Jennifer LoveGrove

Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels

Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, by Shani Mootoo

Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, by Shani Mootoo

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, by Heather O'Neill

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, by Heather O’Neill

Paradise and Elsewhere, by Kathy Page

Paradise and Elsewhere, by Kathy Page

My October, by Claire Holden Rothman

My October, by Claire Holden Rothman

All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, by Padma Viswanathan

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, by Padma Viswanathan

Okay, I will admit I am surprised by this list. I have only read two: Sean Michaels’ Us Conductors (review is here — I quite liked it) and Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows which has the distinction of being one of the few novels that so disappointed me I did not feel up to a review. I promise I will give it a re-read and post a review shortly.

What is most notable about the list is the absence of eligible titles from writers who I would say are on Canada’s A-list — Margaret Atwood, David Bergen, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Michael Crummey, Alexis Zentner, Kathleen Winter, to name just a few. I am only guessing, but I’d say we have a jury whose attitude is “let’s give some recognition to established, but overlooked authors”. I’d put Itani, Mootoo, Toews, Viswanathan into that category — I have read works by them all, but did not feel motivated to purchase these latest volumes when they were released. Certainly, they would fit my idea of midlist authors — I will be reading them because of the longlisting, but none fall into my “highly anticipated” category.

The Shadow Giller Jury will now swing into action. Trevor at the Mookse and the Gripes is our short story expert and he will be reading the two collections, Galchen and Page. After I re-read the Toews, my plan would be schedule Bezmozgis, Mootoo, and Itani as next on my agenda. Kimbofo and Alison will be free to set their own schedules.

Let’s hope my surprise is a pleasant one. The 2014 Shadow Giller is now under way — by all means join us on the journey.

27 Responses to “2014 Giller Prize longlist”

  1. roughghosts Says:

    As someone who is often underwhelmed by Canada’s so called A list authors, I find this list intriguing. At this moment I am a bit devoted to focusing on a few of the non-Canadian authors coming to Wordfest as this is the first year I have been able to attend (one advantage of sick leave I guess). I will be interested to watch your Shadow Giller progress.

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  2. annelogan17 Says:

    I too am surprised by this list, but excited to discover some writers I’m not familiar with. Claire Holden Rothman is a favourite of mine, I’m glad to see her work getting recognized again.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I too am happy to see Holden Rothman back on the list. I quite liked The Heart Specialist (my review is here) and am looking forward to his one as well. I am hoping it turns out to be a fine “October” read.

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    • Carole Besharah Says:

      I have yet to read anything by Claire Holden Rothman. When I hit the bookstore to pick a couple books from the longlist, My October’s synopsis drew me in. A book dealing with the October Crisis AND weaves in my favorite French-Canadian novel, Bonheur d’occasion… love.

      I also got The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. I loved Lullabies For Little Criminals.

      Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee Monks Says:

    Interesting stuff – I will keep an eye on the reviews before ordering anything, apart from the Bezmogis, who is pretty reliable. Although I did wonder why the Hemon quote – “A moral thriller” – was deemed worthy of encomium. Is that a noteworthy thing to say about a thriller, really? Anyway I look forward to that.

    Personally delighted not to see Atwood on there – particularly after her unofficial but evident ‘chief whip’ exploits last time around. I bet Lethem has a few stories.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I confess that I would not have read the Atwood volume anyway — Trevor had already been assigned that task.

      After my initial surprise at the missing names, I’m moving more to “okay, let’s give these a try”. Like you, I appreciate Bezmozgis — Itani, Mootoo and Holden Rothman are all quite capable of making a step forward from my last visit to their work.

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      • Lee Monks Says:

        Always good for someone like me who knows little beyond that A-list of Canadian authors (which is a list that comprises some of my favourites) to see many unfamiliar names that you’d hope may join it in time.

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      • KevinfromCanada Says:

        It is also interesting to look at the publishers on the longlist titles — five are from Penguin Random House, four from Harper Collins, three from independents (two ECW, one Biblioasis).

        We will probably see protests about independents being overlooked (that is a Canadian kind of response). What interests me more is that the “non-established”, previously published writers in the big houses are the ones who are getting recognition here — and they are supposedly the authors that the large houses are overlooking.

        And if I take the 8 or 10 titles I was looking forward to that aren’t on the list — and add some independent ones — I would have to say Canadian publishing looks to be in pretty good shape. The jury considered 162 titles so it isn’t as though we Canadian readers don’t have a decent choice. And, no, I am not committing to reviewing all 162.

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  4. kimbofo Says:

    I’m actually rather excited by the list, Kevin, probably because the only author I know on there is Bezmogzis, and the whole idea of participating in the Shadow Giller is expanding my horizons, getting out of the comfort zone and discovering new-to-me writers.

    Of this list, it would appear all but 4 are available in the UK, so I will be getting on with them asap.

    As you know, I read the Toews earlier in the year and, like you, I couldn’t summons the energy to write a review. I found it a slightly tedious tale — if it gets shortlisted I guess I’ll have to read it again to see if my opinion changes upon a second reading.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Ha — you and I have probably tipped the hand that the Shadow Giller won’t be moving the Toews forward.

      I know your tastes pretty well, but I can’t say where I would recommend you start. I am delighted that you will be exposed to some Canadian authors whom you don’t know — and I will be very interested in your response.

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      • kimbofo Says:

        I’m stocking my Kindle as we speak… once I finish the latest Joseph O’Connor book (which I’m really rather enjoying, though it’s quite a peculiar beast) I’ll be reading to get on with the Giller prize readings.

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  5. sharkell Says:

    I love your Shadow Giller project and look forward to reading your reviews. I can’t speak highly enough of your choice book last year, The Orenda, a personal favourite now that I recommend to all and sundry.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Thanks, Sharkell — I still think we made the right choice last year. And we do intend to have every bit as much fun reading (and judging) this year.

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      • Lee Monks Says:

        How I wish Waterstone’s would come out in defence of a Mitchell or an Amis as admirably as the Canadian bookstore (whose name slips my mind: apologies) did for Joseph Boyden last time…

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      • KevinfromCanada Says:

        It was Indigo, Lee — I buy most of my books online from them.

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        • Lee Monks Says:

          Ah yes! Thanks. And good on Indigo. (A lot of grumbling about 5 of the 6 Booker-shortlisted titles coming from Random House-Penguin…but no-one likely to kick up any sizable fuss.)

          I listened to a Guardian podcast on the Booker earlier – a contributor suggested, after they had spoken to an un-named member of this year’s Booker panel and asked them to describe the relationship amongst the six judges, the word offered up was ‘polarized’. Makes sense. He also went on to say that Grayling is weak and that the whole thing was a bit of a mess.

          Anyway Ali Smith will win – put your money down.

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  6. Mary K Gilbert Says:

    This looks an interesting list Kevin. I might be tempted to return from 19th century exile. I’ve been hiding there ever since the awfulness of The Goldfinch…..

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Glad to see your interest has been piqued — keep in touch if you are moved to try any.

      One other thing that I have been meaning to mention is the absence of any translation from the French. The longlist almost always features at least one but there isn’t any this year.

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  7. Kerry Says:

    One of my favorite times of the year: Shadow Giller Time. The Shadow Jury’s deliberations are always interesting and always entice me to at least one new Canadian experience. (Boyden from last year).

    My favorite covers (cover art rocks!) are those of Paradise and Elsewhere and Waiting for the Man with the former moving me a little more at this moment.

    I look forward to finding out what is inside all of them.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Well I certainly hope we find something that sends you to the bookstore and rewards the investment of time and money.

      As for covers, my favorite is My October. Montreal has been well captured in fiction (Richler, Maclennan, Roy, Hood for starters) but Holden Rothman added a distinctive picture of another aspect of the city in The Heart Specialist — for me, the cover of this one (and I yet to touch the actual book) offers similar promise.

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      • Kerry Says:

        Now you mention Montreal, I recently visited for the first time and, based on your reviews, chose Richler’s Duddy Kravitz to get a bit of a literary acquaintance (I have also read Roy’s The Tin Flute on your recommendation, thanks!). It was quite good and enhanced my trip. Rue Saint Urbain was a must see, for instance. So, thanks!

        Also, looking at the cover of My October again, it reminds me of the many charming neighborhoods, Mont Royale especially, in the very walkable city. My interest is piqued. I think this goes on the list.

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      • KevinfromCanada Says:

        Now that is an endorsement that warms this blogger’s heart. And I have to confess that while I have visited Montreal many times, I probably know it less well than Canada’s other major cities — most of my post-student days trips were business-based and I never had the chance to wander and explore as much as I would like.

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  8. Carole Besharah Says:

    So looking forward to reading what the Shadow Giller has to say. I was initially disappointed that Sweetland by Michael Crummery and The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter did not make the cut. Such masterful works. The only authors on this list that I have read are Frances Itani (loved Deafening!!!), Heather O’Neill, and Miriam Toews’ books. I look forward to reading this new-to-me crop of writers. Let the reading commence. Cheers.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I too expected Sweetland to be there (or perhaps The Lobster Kings since the two share some similarities) — I guess the jury wasn’t much for “island” fiction which is a bit of a Canadian sub-genre. Whatever — on we go.

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  9. patpreston Says:

    Kathy Page is a well published author from Salt Spring, and quite naturally, has a huge fan base here. I have not yet read this novel. So reserve comment on its place on the long list.

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