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2020 Giller Prize

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The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, who passed away from cancer the year before. The award recognized excellence in Canadian fiction – long format or short stories – and endowed a cash prize annually of $25,000.00, the largest purse for literature in the country.

The launch of The Giller Prize coincided with a growing recognition of Canadian authors and literature both at home and abroad. Acclaimed writers such as Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Mordecai Richler were winning honours and accolades around the world. The time seemed ripe to celebrate the success of these and other homegrown writers within these borders, with a bold statement of support and recognition.

The Giller Prize, along with many other awards that came before and after, is in part responsible for the continued growth of Canadian literary talent. The prize has so far endowed more than three-quarters of a million dollars to Canadian writers from coast to coast. Past winners can be found here.

Thammavongsa, Souvankham
How to pronounce knife

2020 Winner: Named one of Time Magazine's Must-Read Books of 2020 and one of the best books of the month by The New York Times, Salon, Vanity Fair, Bustle, The Millions, and Vogue, and featuring stories that have appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, this revelatory book of fiction from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. Told with compassion and wry humour, these stories honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world."

Mandel, Emily St. John
The glass hotel

2020 Short List: From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

Mootoo, Shani
Polar vortex

2020 Short List: Artist Priya has moved to the Canadian countryside to make a new life with Alex, her lover, a writer. But a visit from Prakash, a male college friend, threatens to expose secrets from her young adulthood she hasn’t shared. After Prakash gets in touch with her after many years and Priya invites him to visit, she begins having nightmares, fearful that Prakash’s revelations could destroy her relationship. Priya’s short chapters of first-person narration attenuate the suspense as Alex, attuned to Priya’s unease, ferrets out facts and asks more probing questions.

Bergen, David
Here the dark

2020 Short List: From the streets of Danang, Vietnam, where a boy falls in with a young American missionary, to fishermen lost on the islands of Honduras, to the Canadian prairies, where an aging rancher finds himself smitten and a teenage boy’s infatuation reveals his naiveté, the short stories in Here the Dark chronicle the geographies of both place and heart. Featuring a novella about a young woman torn between faith and doubt in a cloistered Mennonite community, David Bergen’s latest deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost—and how, through grace, we can be found.

Adamson, Gil.
Ridgerunner

2020 Short List: Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson’s follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Outlander, is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.