Ah, the Giller. Perhaps not the most prestigious literary award in Canada – the Governor General’s award will likely always be that – but I think the Giller my favourite. The award show actually does make for compelling TV (if you are at all interested in reading, of course).
But it’s also freer. I think the GG is about fretting over exactly who is the all-time best writer in Canada (at that moment), worrying about whether or not so-and-so has been recognized yet, and, in short, getting it right.
The Giller on the other hand is more about celebrating new Canadian literature. You’re much more likely to get first-time writers vying for the top spot because they have a good book, not because they’ve been around for long enough. And even then, it may not go to the absolute “best book” because reading is, of course, a subjective thing. So you get a lot of, “Well, I would have picked this one” but at the same time you’re less likely to argue that whoever does win didn’t deserve it.
I also like the process. You get the long list today. You get the short list in a couple of weeks. Then the winner a month later. It builds up, gives you time to get familiar with at least some of the books. Most of all – and this is so important in Canada – it puts the spotlight on a number of good writers who may not have had the concentrated exposure otherwise. That’s the real importance of any Canadian award of course, promoting Canadian writers at home and abroad.
This year has special significance for me – I actually read one of the long-list books before they list was announced, which has never happened before, I don’t think. Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu was a good read – and spooky too. Not as in horror, but as in his ideas and even the story is so much like my own WIP. Even the title echoes a title of a former WIP of mine from decades ago.
In any case, check out the long list here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/giller-prize-unveils-long-list/article20614335/
And if you’ve never watched the Giller award ceremony, here’s a snippet from last year: