The Giller Prize 2019: Longlist

The Giller Prize (sorry, The Scotiabank Giller Prize) is, arguably, the major literary prize in the Canadian book scene. The Giller Prize has been awarded annually since 1994 and the winner is now awarded $100,000. When Michael Redhill won in 2017, he shared a picture of his bank statement on social media, demonstrating just how drastic a change to an author’s life that kind of money is.

This year’s longlist was announced yesterday in Newfoundland (by Esi Edugyan, who won last year for Washington Black). I’ve enjoyed following other literary longlists with bloggers who have attempted (and succeeded) to read every book nominated for the Women’s Fiction Prize in a year. So the question for me is, dare I attempt something similar on behalf of Canadian literature?

The longlist is, thankfully, not terribly long and I’ve already read two on it. I’m not sure I’ll get to all twelve titles but I think I will try for at least the shortlist when it’s announced on September 30.

Already Read:

Dual Citizens – Alix Ohlin (I had an ARC of this and enjoyed it but didn’t feel like I had much to say in the end.

Reproduction – Ian Williams (Read my full review here. I read this as part of my 2019 Writers Fest Challenge and did not love it. I got to hear Williams at the Writers Festival though and was given a bit more insight into what he was trying to achieve.)

What I’ll Definitely Read:

Lampedusa – Steven Price (I bought a copy of this last week because I like Steve Price as a person and really enjoyed his last book, By Gaslight. That said, since his wife won last year, I feel like it would be weird for him to win this year.

Greenwood – Michael Christie (On hold at the library as of yesterday. I enjoyed both Christie’s first collection of short stories and his novel, If I Fall, If I Die.)

Other Thoughts:

  • If Margaret Atwood publishes a book it’s almost automatically going to be nominated for everything. That said, I don’t have any immediate plans to read The Testaments. I’m not generally a great Atwood fan. (She won in 1996 for Alias Grace.)
  • I will probably read The Innocents now that it’s been nominated. I liked Galore and Sweetland pretty well but I feel like I already know what The Innocents is going to be like. Maybe Crummey will surprise me. (I was surprised that Crummey has never won the Giller. He’s been nominated once before.)
  • Andre Alexis has won previously, for Fifteen Dogs in 2015, which was a weird but compelling novel. I’m on the fence as to whether I’ll read this one.
  • David Bezmozgis has also been nominated but never won and I might just read Immigrant City because I know so little about it.
  • Likewise K.D. Miller’s Late Breaking. I’m going to read this one because I do like a good short story collection. I’ll be surprised if it wins though because it is a short story collection.
  • None of the reviews I’ve read of Adam Foulds’ Dream Sequence have convinced me I want to read it. If it makes it to the shortlist I will give in but I’m holding back for now.
  • I’ve read great reviews of Frying Plantains but haven’t been drawn to it. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need.
  • Why do I feel like Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club came out over a year ago? It was an early 2019 release and apparently I am losing my concept of time.

Read any of these? Going to read any of these? Want to read along with me?

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13 thoughts on “The Giller Prize 2019: Longlist”

  1. Great post! I’ll be very interested to follow along if and when you make your way through the longlist/shortlist. I hadn’t heard of most of these titles, which is a shame, so I’ll definitely need to look into some of them!

    1. Thanks! I’m always curious to hear what Canadian books make it out into the wider world! I’ve really enjoyed following along with you and other bloggers when you’ve read prize lists in their entirety. I think it gives an interesting insight into the prize and the directions lit is heading.

    2. I’m probably biased, but there are some great books coming out of Canada. That said, I’m pretty ignorant of the non-US, non-UK writing world.

  2. I haven’t heard of most of them either, except the Atwood which doesn’t appeal. But I think these prizes are quite often longlisting books that either haven’t come out yet or have only just been published, so quite often they’re full of books that have yet to build much buzz. I shall look forward to seeing what ones you think deserve to be shortlisted!

    1. You’re right – there are several that are either not yet published or very newly published. A couple have been out for a while but it is also reliant on which books publishers choose to nominate or really push for.

  3. I’d love to take on this challenge with you, but I’m too busy with preparing for Wordfest and Halloween book segments ;( But I am participating in the Calgary Giller Light party so I’ll have to end up defending one book on the shortlist. I’m currently reading Lampedusa right now and finding it quite…slow. And dry. I don’t think he’ll win.

    1. Sounds like you have plenty of other fun bookish things! Do you get any say on which book you defend? Did you read By Gaslight? How does it compare to Lampedusa?

    2. I read By Gaslight and its better than Lampedusa I think, it held my attention more (even though Lampedusa is like half the length, it was just too boring).

      I don’t think we get much say in the shortlisted books we defend-maybe a bit of a preference but we all fight for the same books so the host has to make it fair haha

  4. I’ll be reading as many of these as I can! I never usually get to them all, but I do read all the shortlisted books. I’ve read four so far, which gets me off to a better start than usual!
    I adore Michael Crummey, so The Innocents is a sure thing for me. And I loved Late Breaking and Frying Plantain, so hopefully you’ll enjoy those ones. I didn’t read By Gaslight, so I’m not sure what’s in store for me there.
    Part of the fun of all this is seeing who likes (or not) which books and why!

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