2014 Giller Prize shortlist

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The Giller Prize shortlist was announced this morning:

The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis

Tell, by Francis Itani

Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels

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

All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, by Padma Viswanathan

I have read three — you can find a review of Us Conductors here and Tell here. As I said when the longlist was announced, I was so disappointed with All My Puny Sorrows that I decided not to review it when I read it in the spring — I will be giving it another read to see if I missed something the first time around.

My fellow Shadow Jurors don’t really get started until now, but there are a couple of reviews already up. Kim’s review of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is here and you can find another review of Us Conductors on Trevor’s site here.

I have read three other books from the longlist: Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab, Claire Holden Rothman’s My October and Rivka Galchen’s story collection American Innovations. I’ll be posting reviews of all three in the next couple weeks — for now, I’ll just say that while I am happy to have read them I have no quarrel with leaving any of the three off the short list.

My planned reading order for the three I have not yet read will be Bezmozgis, O’Neill and finally Viswanathan. I’ll post reviews shortly after finishing each and should have them up well before the Nov. 10 Prize announcement. I’ll also do my best to get to the three longlisted books I have yet to read that did not make the shortlist.

As usual, your thoughts on the list and the books you have read are more than welcome.

8 Responses to “2014 Giller Prize shortlist”

  1. roughghosts Says:

    Hi Kevin, I commented on your recent review of Tell and I know that will be a must read for me. To date I have only read All My Puny Sorrows which I enjoyed more than I anticipated but it failed to adequately address the subject (suicide) that drew me to it. My review was posted on my blog a few days back. Keep in mind that my reviews or book commentaries are generally in some way related back to a mental health aspect.

    I read the book primarily in advance of a Wordfest event I plan to attend. Viswanathan is also on the panel but I’m not sure if I will squeeze her book in beforehand. I’m also volunteering at an event featuring Sean Michaels. If I am really intrigued I will see where my reading takes me from there prior to the winner being announced.

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      While I liked Viswanathan’s first novel, I have to admit it was a bit of a slog to finish. Actually, enough of a slog that I decided I would only read this one if it made the shortlist. And I regret to report that I have already heard from two readers whom I respect who abandoned it.

      I understand that in most of his promotional events, Michaels has arranged to have someone playing a theremin. I’m not sure if that will be the case in Calgary, but if it is I think you are in for a “sound” as well as literary treat.

      And if mental health is one of your interests, do move Tell up on your list — Itani is very good in this one at exploring the various ways that her characters and their relationships become damaged. That was the aspect that I found most captivating.

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      • roughghosts Says:

        Thanks for the feedback. This is the first time I have been able to attend Wordfest but being on sick leave I have a full week planned and, rather patriotically I confess I have a keen interest in hearing some of the international writers coming. Over all though it should be great just to be around so many people who love books!

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  2. Lisa Hill Says:

    I’ve got the Viswanathan on my TBR, so I might try and read it before the announcement if I can…

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I rather liked her first novel but all reports I have seen on this one suggest it is a challenging read — good luck if you take it on.

      I have a Canada/Australia question for you. Some debate has already surfaced with the Giller shortlist including three Penguin Random House and three Harper Collins titles. Do you have the same issue there or is Australia far enough removed from the U.S. that independent domestic publishers remain a major factor? The Giller announcement did note that they had submissions from 63 different publishing houses, so we obviously still have a lot of independents in Canada — they just did not make the list.

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      • Lisa Hill Says:

        I’d have to look it up to provide firm figures but my impression is that our indie publishers often do well in the shortlists, and indeed often publish the most innovative fiction.

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  3. Wendy Says:

    hi Kevin, I was wondering if the shadow jury feels that there is a book(s) missing from the Giller list? Last year, the Orenda was your choice and it didn’t even make the short list! The reason I ask is that I’m half way through Ann-Marie MacDonald’s ADULT ONSET and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a book that I want to talk about. P.S. I enjoy the blog – thanks!

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    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I have read a couple that I thought deserved a place on the longlist — Alexi Zentner’s The Lobster Kings and Michael Crummey’s Sweetland (review to come soon). Neither was head and shoulders above the competition as The Orenda was last year, so I’m not too disturbed that they didn’t show up.

      I have Adult Onset and was looking forward to it — I liked Fall on Your Knees a lot (it was the Shadow Giller winner way back then) but didn’t like her second novel that much. I am afraid I won’t be getting to it until after my Giller shortlist reading is complete.

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