Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sunday November 9th, 2014 And the Giller goes to...

On Monday November 10, the annual Scotiabank Giller Prize will be awarded to one of six shortlisted Canadian novels. This year’s festival will be hosted by CBC’s Rick Mercer and adjudicated by writers Shauna Singh Baldwin, Justin Cartwright, and Francine Prose.

The Giller Prize was first awarded back in 1994 to The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji, by Jack Rabinovitch in honor of his late wife Donna Giller. The award celebrates the best and innovative in Canadian literature, from both well-established and independent publishing houses. In the past, writers as diverse as Rohinton Mistry, Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro and Joseph Boyden have all been awarded this prestigious prize.  

This year’s nominees for the Giller showcase an exciting array of fiction. Fortunately for all dedicated readers, all of the shortlisted titles are available at your Thunder Bay Public Library. Here is a brief synopsis on the breadth of talent competing for this year’s Giller Prize. 

All My Puny Sorrows, the latest from Miriam Toews, follows two inseparable but very different sisters, Elf and Yoli; Elf a celebrated concert pianist with a loving family, but living with a strong urge to end her life, and Yoli, a meandering freelance writer bouncing from one disastrous relationship to the next. After the death of their father by suicide, Yoli takes it upon herself to save her sister from a similar fate.

David Bezmogzis’ The Betrayers is at once a serious and comical meditation on coincidence, morality and (hence the title) betrayal. In the course of 24 hours, a former Israeli politician, after being exposed by his political opponents for betraying his wife, takes refuge in Crimea with his young mistress where he meets a former colleague who betrayed him to the KGB. Throughout the tightly wound plot, The Betrayers explores the themes of betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation. 

Similar in narrative scope is Padma Viswanathan’s The Ever After of Ashwin Rao where we follow a psychologist who interviews family members who had lost loved ones in the Air India flight 182 in 1985. As Ashwin Rao conducts his research on the comparative grief of family members, we come to learn that Rao himself had family on that fatal flight. Viswanathan’s novel is itself a study of how we cope with loss and tragedy, how it can tear and unite us.

As with Viswanathan’s novel, the examination of human intricacies and behaviour continues in the latest from Francis Itani. Tell an ambitious novel set in the wake of World War I weaves interlocking stories of the inhabitants of Bay of Quinte. Through the vivid characters that Itani creates, she explores how secrets of the heart can both bind and render us.

In Heather O’Neil’s The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, we meet Nouschka Tremblay, along with her twin brother Nicolas, trying desperately to escape the spotlight cast on them as a result of their father Etienne, a beloved folk singer in Montreal. As Nouschka tries to gain independence and control over her life, her brother decides to take the backseat approach, waiting for a solution to come to him.

Sean Michaels second effort, Us Conductors takes on the challenging task of telling the history of the musical instrument “theremin” while incorporating the life events of its inventor Lev Terman. Michaels’ introduces us to Terman, Russian inventor, scientist and spy, sharing his life history with Clara Rockmore, love of his life and in his mind the greatest theremin player in the world.

For more information on the Scotiabank Giller prize, visit their website and stay tuned to CBC television at 9:00 pm on November 10 when the Giller prize will be awarded. Visit TBPL’s online catalogue to locate or reserve any one of these novels.

Petar Vidjen

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