Canada’s Giller Prize season gets under way with release of the longlist Sept. 4 — so it is time to confirm that the Shadow Giller Jury will again be in action and declaring its “winner” in advance of the Real Jury selection on Oct. 30.
Regular visitors at KfC are undoubtedly familiar with the Shadow Giller but for newcomers here is a short bit of background. This is year 18 for the Real Giller: the Shadow Giller has been in existence for 17 of those years. It is based on the assumption that those readers who want to criticize a prize jury have a duty to make their own choice known in advance of the real selection. We started in 1995 with a 20-minute conversation in the newsroom of the Calgary Herald (and agreed with the Real Jury and selected Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance as our winner). For many of the following years, the Shadow Giller held an annual judging “lunch” (a pale imitation of the Real Giller banquet) — it must be admitted that a few years we were reduced to a telephone conference call, but we have always announced our choice before the real selection was made. And I’ve always been able to recruit at least a couple of people who were delighted to serve as Shadow jurors.
Since the KevinfromCanada blog started four years ago, it has served as headquarters for the Shadow Giller and will again this year. Like the Real Giller, we feature an international jury (the Real Jury this year is Irish author Roddy Doyle; Leningrad-born, now U.S.-based, author Gary Shteyngart; and Canadian Anna Porter, a former book publisher). This year’s Shadow Jury is the same as last year’s: Kimbofo in London, England who blogs at Reading Matters; Trevor, who has recently relocated from New Jersey to Utah, at the Mookse and the Gripes and Alison Gzowski, an editor at the Globe and Mail and former producer of CBC’s Talking Books, who doesn’t blog but offers her thoughts on all three that are involved.
This year’s Real Giller has already provoked some discussion: the original longlist date of Aug. 28 was pushed back a week, supposedly to give jurors time to read all the books. Conspiracy theorists (what would a literary prize be without a conspiracy?) might spot early jury disagreement. On the other hand, the 2012 Canadian publishing schedule is even more fall-loaded than normal, so the official rationale is probably legitimate.
The shortlist date (Oct. 1) was not changed so the Shadow Giller faces the same challenge as in previous years. There simply will not be enough time for us to all read the entire longlist. As before, we promise that at least one of us will read and review each of the longlisted titles — some of those reviews will appear on Kim and Trevor’s blogs, but I’ll be posting excerpts and links to their reviews here. And Alison will also be offering the occasional guest review here.
We again commit to all four of us reading (and reviewing) the entire shortlist — in addition to my own reviews, I will again be offering excerpts and links to those of Kim and Trevor. Comments from fellow travellers are most welcome at all three blogs.
All four of us also pay some attention to the Booker Prize and last year found the Giller list to be far more interesting reading than the Booker. It is a better Booker list this year, but I still give the Giller a good shot at coming up with a better list — I’m certainly looking forward to the reading.
And if you want to jump the gun, the Giller people have again compiled a list of the more than 200 titles that were eligible for submission for the 2012 Prize — you can browse that entire list here.
We look forward to others joining in the Shadow Giller journey. As I said earlier, your comments and thoughts are always welcome.