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For the record: Ellen Seligman’s literary legacy

A legendary editor to Canada’s greatest authors, Seligman’s work is on dozens of awards. Here is a selected list:


 
Ellen Seligman ( Ian Crysler)

Ellen Seligman ( Ian Crysler)

Few literary editors can claim as profound an influence on Canadian fiction than Ellen Seligman, a legend in her craft and editor of Canadian authors including Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Michael Ondaatje. Seligman edited 23 books that won Governor General’s literary awards, and also published books by Nobel prize-winning writer Alice Munro. She died last month.

Kristin Cochrane, president and publisher of Penguin Random House, called it “next to impossible to express the grief I know we all feel with the loss of this incomparable woman.” Elizabeth Hay, another Canadian great who proudly worked alongside Seligman, recalled an attention to detail that was “heroic.” Giller-nominated Jane Urquhart called Seligman “an author’s most essential advocate and guide.”

The immediate reaction to Seligman’s death, which came from all corners of Canada’s literary world, constantly referenced the long reach of Seligman’s red pen, her devotion to the authors with whom she worked—and the influence readers might never know she had on the books they read.

We reached out Penguin Random House in search of a list of just some of the award-winning titles that found their audience thanks, in part, to Seligman’s steady hand. The publishing house sent us an impressive list of Scotiabank Giller Prizes, Man Booker Prizes, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards, Griffin Poetry Prizes, Governor General’s Literary Awards, Amazon.ca First Novel Award Winners, and even a Nobel Prize on which Seligman left her mark. Click the links above or scroll below for the whole collection. Titles marked with two asterisks won awards, while one asterisk identifies finalists. The remaining titles were long-listed.

Scotiabank Giller Prize

  • 1994

    The Book of Secrets
    M.G. Vassanji**

     

    Funny Boy
    Shyam Selvadurai*

  • 1995

    A Fine Balance
    Rohinton Mistry**

  • 1996

    Alias Grace
    Margaret Atwood**

     

    Fugitive Pieces
    Anne Michaels*

     

    The Englishman’s Boy
    Guy Vanderhaeghe*

  • 1997

    Where She Has Gone
    Nino Ricci*

  • 1998

    Childhood
    André Alexis*

  • 2000

    Anil’s Ghost
    Michael Ondaatje**

     

    Burridge Unbound
    Alan Cumyn*

     

    A Student of Weather
    Elizabeth Hay*

  • 2001

    The Russlander
    Sandra Birdsell*

     

    The Stone Carvers
    Jane Urquhart*

  • 2003

    Oryx and Crake
    Margaret Atwood*

     

    The Island Walkers
    John Bemrose*

  • 2005

    The Time in Between
    David Bergen**

  • 2007

    Late Nights on Air
    Elizabeth Hay**

     

    Divisadero
    Michael Ondaatje*

  • 2008

    The Retreat
    David Bergen

     

    Red Dog, Red Dog
    Patrick Lane

  • 2009

    The Winter Vault
    Anne Michaels*

     

    The Year of the Flood
    Margaret Atwood

  • 2010

    Cities of Refuge
    Michael Helm

     

    Sanctuary Line
    Jane Urquhart

  • 2011

    Cat’s Table
    Michael Ondaatje*

     

    A Good Man
    Guy Vanderhaeghe

  • 2015

    A Beauty
    Connie Gault

Man Booker Prize

  • 1986

    The Handmaid’s Tale
    Margaret Atwood*

  • 1989

    Cat’s Eye
    Margaret Atwood*

  • 1991

    Such a Long Journey
    Rohinton Mistry*

  • 1992

    The English Patient
    Michael Ondaatje**

  • 1996

    Alias Grace
    Margaret Atwood*

     

    A Fine Balance
    Rohinton Mistry*

  • 1999

    The Blackwater Lightship
    Colm Tóibín*

  • 2000

    The Blind Assassin
    Margaret Atwood**

  • 2001

    The Stone Carvers
    Jane Urquhart

  • 2002

    Family Matters
    Rohinton Mistry*

  • 2003

    Oryx and Crake
    Margaret Atwood*

     

    The Good Doctor
    Damon Galgut*

     

    Astonishing Splashes of Colour
    Clare Morrall*

  • 2004

    The Island Walkers
    John Bemrose

     

    The Master
    Colm Tóibín

  • 2009

    The Little Stranger
    Sarah Waters*

  • 2010

    In a Strange Room
    Damon Galgut*

  • 2013

    The Luminaries
    Eleanor Catton**

     

    The Testament of Mary
    Colm Tóibín*

  • 2015

    The Illuminations
    Andrew O’Hagan

     

    The Green Road
    Anne Enright

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

  • 1996

    Away
    Jane Urquhart

  • 1997

    A Fine Balance
    Rohinton Mistry*

  • 1998

    Alias Grace
    Margaret Atwood*

     

    The Englishman’s Boy
    Guy Vanderhaeghe*

  • 2001

    The Blackwater Lightship
    Colm Tóibín*

  • 2002

    The Blind Assassin
    Margarat Atwood*

  • 2004

    Family Matters
    Rohinton Mistry*

  • 2005

    The Good Doctor
    Damon Galgut*

  • 2006

    The Master
    Colm Tóibín**

  • 2011

    Brooklyn
    Colm Tóibín*

The Nobel Prize in Literature

  • 2013

    Alice Munro**

Griffin Poetry Prize

Seligman was the acquiring editor for the poetry titles listed below.

  • 2001

    Another Gravity
    Don McKay*

  • 2003

    thirsty
    Dionne Brand*

  • 2004

    Loop
    Anne Simpson**

  • 2005

    Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida
    Roo Borson**

     

    Camber
    Don McKay*

  • 2007

    Strike/Slip
    Don McKay**

  • 2011

    Ossuaries
    Dionne Brand**

     

    Lookout
    John Steffler*

  • 2014

    Red Doc>
    Anne Carson**

     

    Correspondences
    Anne Michaels*

Governor General’s Literary Awards

Seligman was the in-house or acquiring editor for the winners in the poetry category.

  • 1979

    There’s a Trick with a Knife I’m Learning to Do
    Michael Ondaatje (poetry)

  • 1981

    The Collected Poems of F.R. Scott
    F.R. Scott (poetry)

  • 1983

    Settlements
    David Donnell (poetry)

  • 1984

    Celestial Navigation
    Paulette Jiles (poetry)

  • 1985

    The Handmaid’s Tale
    Margaret Atwood (fiction)

  • 1986

    The Collected Poems of Al Purdy
    Al Purdy (poetry)

  • 1987

    Afterworlds
    Gwendolyn MacEwen (poetry)

  • 1988

    Nights Below Station Street
    David Adams Richards (fiction)

  • 1991

    Such a Long Journey
    Rohinton Mistry (fiction)

     

    Night Field
    Don McKay (poetry)

  • 1992

    The English Patient
    Michael Ondaatje (fiction)

     

    Inventing the Hawk
    Lorna Crozier (poetry)

  • 1996

    The Englishman’s Boy
    Guy Vanderhaeghe (fiction)

  • 1997

    The Underpainter
    Jane Urquhart (fiction)

     

    Land to Light On
    Dionne Brand (poetry)

  • 2000

    Anil’s Ghost
    Michael Ondaatje (fiction)

     

    Another Gravity
    Don McKay (poetry)

  • 2003

    Kill-site
    Tim Lilburn (poetry)

  • 2004

    Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida
    Roo Borson (poetry)

  • 2007

    Divisadero
    Michael Ondaatje (fiction)

  • 2012

    The Purchase
    Linda Spalding (fiction)

  • 2013

    The Luminaries
    Eleanor Catton (fiction)

  • 2015

    Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe (fiction)

Amazon.ca First Novel Award Winners (formerly Books in Canada First Novel Award)

  • 1991

    Such a Long Journey
    Rohinton Mistry

  • 1992

    The Afterlife of George Cartwright
    John Steffler

  • 1994

    Funny Boy
    Shyam Selvadurai

  • 1996

    Fugitive Pieces
    Anne Michaels

  • 1997

    Opium Dreams
    Margaret Gibson

  • 1998

    Childhood
    André Alexis

  • 2006

    Certainty
    Madeleine Thien

  • 2010

    The Rehearsal
    Eleanor Catton (as publisher)

Acclaimed Non-fiction

I’ll Tell You a Secret
Anne Coleman
Finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction

From Harvey River
Lorna Goodison
Winner of the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
Finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize

Wave
Sonali Deraniyagala
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist


 

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