Archive for November, 2018

The 2018 Giller Prize Winner

November 21, 2018

Congratulations to Esi Edugyan whose novel Washington Black was named the 2018 Giller Prize winner!

As many of you may already know, the Shadow Giller jury chose Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric DuPont as our winner. However, Washington Black was our second choice, so it’s lovely to see such a wonderful book take the prize. If you’re interested in finding out how we arrived at our decision, you can read about it here.

For more information and photos of the event, you can visit the Scotiabank Giller Prize website or the CBC news. You can hear an interview with Esi Edugyan after her win on CBC’s “q” here.

What the jurors had to say about Washington Black:How often history asks us to underestimate those trapped there. This remarkable novel imagines what happens when a black man escapes history’s inevitable clasp – in his case, in a hot air balloon no less. Washington Black, the hero of Esi Edugyan’s novel is born in the 1800s in Barbados with a quick mind, a curious eye, and a yearning for adventure. In conjuring Black’s vivid and complex world – as cruel empires begin to crumble and the frontiers of science open like astounding vistas – Edugyan has written a supremely engrossing novel about friendship and love and the way identity is sometimes a far more vital act of imagination than the age in which one lives.”

 

That’s the end of the Giller Prize season for another year. We hope you’ve enjoyed following our Shadow Giller proceedings, reviews and tweets over the past two months. We’ve had a brilliant time doing it and read some wonderful books in the process. 

Thanks so much for your support, and we’ll see you again next year!

 

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The 2018 Shadow Giller Winner

November 18, 2018

We are thrilled to reveal that the Shadow Giller winner for 2018 is:

Songs for the Cold of Heart by Eric DuPont

Congratulations to author Eric DuPont, translator Peter McCambridge and Publisher QC Fiction!

I think we were all won over by this amazing book with all its stories within stories and echos of itself. It’s a big book, but every sentence and every word entertains. The official Giller jury citation is as follows: “Once upon a time in Quebec there was a girl named Madeleine. A tiny red headed waif with only a suitcase in her possession steps off a train in a frozen village, and a strapping Quebec man falls head over heels in love with her strangeness. A baby is born from this union that is so big, it manages to kill both its parents in childbirth. As magnificent a work of irony and magic as the boldest works of Gabriel Garcí¬a Márquez, but with a wholly original sensibility that captures the marvellous obsessions of the Quebecois zeitgeist of the twentieth century. It is without any doubt, a tour de force. And the translation is as exquisite as a snowflake.

An excerpt from Marcie’s review: “Lost earrings and lost arrows. Trick knives and silver spoons. Snowstorms and air raids. Flapjacks and upside-down pineapple cake. Gold crosses and amber barrettes. Fireworks and torpedoes, gunshots and fisticuffs. Sugars and fevers. Eggs on roses and roses behind ears. Tenors and letters. Mary Tyler Moore and Leonard Cohen. The Thorn Birds and The Origins of Totalitarianism. Outdoor operas and bottled schnapps. Chihuahuas and zebras. Skyscrapers and caskets. Stuffed animals and smuggled paintings. Nativity scenes and restaurant chains. Emissaries and mirrors.

It’s not just a complete meal, it’s an entire menu.

An excerpt from Naomi’s review: “Songs for the Cold of Heart is made up of stories within stories. Stories that go back to the turn of the 20th century, stories that take place all over the world, stories that dazzle and shock – love, ambition, adventure, betrayal, tragedy, family, home – stories with echos and parallels running through them – teal coloured eyes, bass clef birthmarks, recurring names, paintings of the Virgin’s death, mustachioed Popes – and stories that entertain, each one the antidote to the last.

 

How did we choose our winner?

As per usual, each juror was given 100 points to disperse and these were sent to Mrs KfC, who acted as our independent adjudicator. The results were as follows:

Kim: Dupont-30, Edugyan-17, deWitt-18, Lim-25, Heti-10

Marcie: DuPont-25, Edugyan-22, deWitt-19, Lim-17, Heti-17

Naomi: DuPont-35, Edugyan-19, deWitt-18, Lim-14, Heti-14

Alison: DuPont-24, Edugyan-21, deWitt-21, Lim-17, Heti-17

 

A unanimous vote for Songs for the Cold of Heart – and it wasn’t even close. This is the first time since I have joined the jury that the results have been so clear-cut, with no need to discuss or negotiate.

Now we wait to see whether the real Giller Prize jury agree with us. They will name their official winner on Monday, 19 November. For specific timings, please visit the official website.

What do you think of our choice? Have you read Songs for the Cold of Heart, or do you plan to?

Three From the Shortlist #3

November 15, 2018

Kim reviews French Exit

The Badly Behaved:It’s quite a voyeurestic read. Frances is a brilliant creation: a badly behaved woman who is an expert at droll putdowns, an eccentric sociopath who takes no responsibility for her poor decision making and feels hard done by without reason.

The Page-Turning Pace:Loosely based around a series of set pieces, the book has a playful energy to it. And while nothing much really happens, it has a page turning quality because the reader wants to find out what outrageous thing Frances will do — or say — next and whether the trio will ever recover their financial standing.

The Conclusion: Visit Kim’s blog, Reading Matters, for the full review!

 

Marcie reviews Washington Black

The artist’s eye:The way Wash sees, light moves across a colour spectrum which is truly brilliant; it transforms his view – and, hence, readers’ sightlines – of waves and jellyfish, tears on a cheek and the wind across a snowscape. “For I observed now a wide, transparent green orb, pulsing, and beside it a yellow one, and then another and another, dozens of glistening suns flaring all about in the dark waters. […] It had been a burst of incandescence, fleeting, radiant, every punch of light like a note of music.”

The Power dynamics:It is a privileged man who can dispense advice like this: “Well, the main thing is to try not to die. I shall give you some advice on how to best bring that about.” Goff recognizes Wash’s gift and Wash recognizes how unlikely that is: most privileged men cannot see past Wash’s skin colour and visage.

The Conclusion: Visit Marcie’s blog, Buried in Print, for the full review!

 

Naomi reviews Motherhood

The Style:Hearing someone’s thoughts for pages at a time can start to feel claustrophobic – a whole book that dwells almost entirely on the narrator’s issues, insecurities, questions, anxieties. None of which lend themselves to easy answers. It can feel overwhelming (not to mention self-indulgent). At one point I was questioning my own decision to have kids!

On the other hand, I think a lot of people have these same questions and anxieties, and the thinking in this book is probably something many can relate to.

The Value:The subject matter or the structure of the novel may be up for debate, depending on your tastes and interests, but I think there is value in the author’s examination of society’s view of childless women (or women in general). The pressure on women to have children is still alive and well. We should not still be in this place – where a woman’s greatest value is her reproductive potential.

It seemed to me like all my worrying about not being a mother came down to this history – this implication that a woman is not an end in herself. She is a means to a man, who will grow up to be an end in himself, and do something in the world. While a woman is a passageway through which a man might come.

The Conclusion: Visit my blog, Consumed by Ink, for the full review!

 


We will be announcing our shadow winner on November 18th, along with links to our reviews of the shortlisted books. The real winner will be announced the evening of November 19th. Stay tuned!

 

Any hopes or predictions? 

 

Three From the Shortlist #2

November 8, 2018

Kim reviews Motherhood

The Subject:As you’d expect for a book with a philosophical bent, it explores lots of interesting ideas about what it is to be a mother (doing what you, as a woman, were supposedly put on earth to do, for example) as well as what it is to be woman of child-bearing age who chooses not to bear children (helping the planet by not adding to the world’s population, is just one theory posited).”

The Style:Written in direct first-person text, almost as if the author is trying to talk herself into — or perhaps out of — making a decision, it’s occasionally humorous and often illuminating, but mostly — and I hate to say this — it’s downright self-indulgent.”

The Conclusion: Visit Kim’s blog, Reading Matters, for the full review!

 

Marcie reviews An Ocean of Minutes 

The Conflict:One remarkable aspect of Thea Lim’s novel is her capacity to move beyond the clear-cut delineations of victim and perpetrator, which makes for a more intriguing and rewarding story.

Once one acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to receive and to wield injury, the question of responsibility is ever-more complex. There are no convenient labels, so conflicts are not characterized by blame and rage, rather a more delicate dance of atonement and forgiveness, which is more unsettling but, ultimately, more satisfying.”

The Genre:The time-travel element gives this novel a whiff of genre, which isn’t generally rewarded by Giller Prize juries. Sometimes a title sneaks into the longlist, like Stephen Price’s By Gaslight, Dan Vyleta’s The Quiet Twin and Clifford Jackman’s The Winter Family. Very occasionally to the shortlist, like Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. So it’s already unusual to see Thea Lim’s debut on the list; either the jurors are smitten, or they are committed to representing (even if not necessarily rewarding) genre writing.

The Conclusion: Visit Marcie’s blog, Buried in Print, for the full review!

 

Naomi reviews Washington Black

The Adventure:The story takes us from the heat of Barbados to the chill of the Arctic, from the salt wind of Nova Scotia to the drizzle of England and the deserts of Morocco. It begins as a desperate escape from slave hunters, and ends in an obsessive search for a man.

The Octopus:Since this book first came out, I have been captivated by the octopus on the cover. What is an octopus doing on the cover of a book about an escaped slave?

Well, let me tell you…

The Conclusion: Visit my blog, Consumed by Ink, for the full review!

 

Have you read any of these? Which ones tempt you?

Three From the Shortlist #1

November 1, 2018

I think I can safely say that we are all well underway with our reading, and the shortlisted reviews are starting to pop up. Here are three, one from each of the bloggers among us…

 

Kim reviews Washington Black

The Good:A dizzying page-turner that takes in scientific polar exploration, the windswept beaches of Nova Scotia, the aristocratic manor houses of 19th century London, the canals of Amsterdam and the deserts of Morocco, this is a true adventure story that brims with menace and tension and love.

The Flawed:But it’s not a perfect novel. There are paradigm shifts, which seem to come out of nowhere and are disorienting for the reader. Some of these shifts feel too far-fetched to be believable and this serves to ruin the perceived authenticity of Wash’s tale. And then, when Titch disappears from the narrative at about the half-way point, suddenly the heart of the story — the mysterious and intriguing relationship between him and Wash — is gone: it’s like taking a cake out of the oven too early so that it collapses.”

The Conclusion: Visit Kim’s blog, Reading Matters, for the full review!

 

Marcie reviews French Exit

The Ludicrous:Ludicrous and lugubrious, sorrow-soaked and snort-worthy: Patrick deWitt’s novel packs a wallop. You might bite your lip to hold in your laughter, but then consider chewing through it, just to taste the blood, the life beneath the surface of it all.

The Bewildering:It’s also one of those books from which you read lines to your companion and, then, discover, when you look up at them, that the thing that you are feeling is not the thing they are feeling. And, when it comes to describing what you are feeling, that’s when you realise that you’re not even sure what that is. But something you wanted to share.

The Conclusion: Visit Marcie’s blog, Buried in Print, for the full review!

 

Naomi reviews Songs for the Cold of Heart

The Storied:Songs for the Cold of Heart is made up of stories within stories. Stories that go back to the turn of the 20th century, stories that take place all over the world, stories that dazzle and shock – love, ambition, adventure, betrayal, tragedy, family, home – stories with echos and parallels running through them – teal coloured eyes, bass clef birthmarks, recurring names, paintings of the Virgin’s death, mustachioed Popes – and stories that entertain, each one the antidote to the last.”

The Surprising:This book is not a stranger to surprising, tragic and disturbing events.

The Conclusion: Visit my blog, Consumed by Ink, for the full review!

 

 

Have you read any of these? Do you plan to?


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