Now we know. The Scotiabank Giller Prize, always the first of Canada’s major fiction prizes to choose its winner, is also always the last to reveal its shortlist. Today’s announcement completes the trio of five-nominee lists (Rogers-Writers’ Trust, Governor-General and Giller) and offers 12 authors—since there are three people on two lists, though none named for all three—a chance at prizes of $50,000 (the Giller) and/or $25,000.
The House of Anansi’s strong year continues, with authors Lynn Coady (Hellgoing) and Lisa Moore (Caught), named to the RWT list, also appearing on the Giller shortlist. Publisher HarperCollins, absent from the Governor General’s choices and the RWT list, put two novels on the Giller: Going Home Again by Dennis Bock and Dan Vyleta’s The Crooked Maid. Colin McAdam, whose A Beautiful Truth appealed to GG jurors as well as the RWT’s, didn’t even make the cut for the Giller long list. But a more surprising absence today was highly popular The Orenda by 2007 Giller winner Joseph Boyden, which does have a place among the Governor General’s nominees.
If relatively few books wowed more than one jury in 2013, it may be the result of a CanLit year described as particularly strong by Giller judge Margaret Atwood. What stands out most is the array of publishers. Anansi, with three titles, rules the Rogers-Writers’ Trust list, which contains only one book by a foreign-owned major; the GGs, traditionally a safe haven for small publishers, is the most major-dominated of the three prizes (two Penguins and three Random Houses); while the Giller (two HarperCollins, two Anansi and a Random House) has more of a balance than the others. But nowhere has a truly small or regional press hit the gold of Joanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press), which ended up taking the 2010 Scotiabank Giller prize.