By Stephen Weir
A dozen Canadian authors were named to the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and three of them are Caribbean-Canadian. The Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of the richest book awards in the country gives $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. Giller finalists will receive $10,000 each.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize’s annual celebration of Canadian literary talent began on Tuesday morning with the announcement of this year’s longlist. Last year’s winner,
(Washington Black) hosted the event and unveiled the nominees.
The three Caribbean Canadian authors who made this list are for his novel “Days by Moonlight”; Ian Williams for his novel “Reproduction”, and Zalika Reid-Benta for her short story collection “Frying Plantain”.
“I am dazed, honoured and excited to be on the longlist for the Giller Prize,” said Reid-Benta after learning that her first book made the cut. Her short stories revolve around Kara Davis a girl caught between her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican. The stories are set in Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood,
Trinidadian-Canadian Andre Alexis won the Giller in 2015 for Fifteen Dogs. “Days by Moonlight”, his seventh novel is about Alfred Homer who takes a Southern Ontario road trip to investigate the story of John Skennen, a poet whose ghost haunts a few souls around the province!
Born in Trinidad and raised in Brampton, Dr. Ian Williams now teaches poetry at the University of British Columbia. He was named by the CBC as one of ten Canadian writers to watch.
His book “Reproduction” is also shortlisted for Toronto Book Awards. Like Reid-Benta, his Giller entry is his first work of fiction.
Chatelaine Magazine described Reproduction as a story about “fathers who vanish and the families that spring up in their place. The Vancouver-based poet deftly weaves together the voices of a 14-year-old Black boy, a 16-year-old white girl and a motley crew of middle-aged parents who are all struggling to do right by their children—with mixed results.”
The Giller nomination caught Williams by surprise. He said upon learning that his book was chosen, being longlisted is “like having eleven brothers and sisters, who are bigger and cooler, and knowing that only five will get the meat in the soup.”
Also on the list are Margaret Atwood, David Bezmozgis, Michael Christie, Megan Gail Coles, Michael Crummey, Adam Foulds, K.D, Miller, Alix Ohlin and Steven Price.
This year’s shortlist will be announced at a press event at the Scotiabank Centre at Scotia Plaza in Toronto on September 30th, at 11 a.m. The winner will be revealed at the Prize gala on, November 18th.