By Stephen Weir
Yesterday, the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist was announced. This year’s 12-book list is an exceptional compilation of books from an extraordinary range of writers, celebrating not only the strength and diversity of writing in Canada but also marking the 30th anniversary of the Prize.
The longlist was announced last Wednesday at The Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland, by the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Suzette Mayr (Sleeping Car Porter).
Of note among the dozen books on the list is Dionne Irving’s short story collection, “The Islands: Stories.” The Toronto-born author and educator, now living in the US, has penned powerful stories that explore the legacy of colonialism, and issues of race, immigration, sexual discrimination, and class in the lives of Jamaican women across London, Panama, France, Jamaica, Florida, and more.
Set in locations and times ranging from 1950s London to 1960s Panama to modern-day New Jersey, Dionne Irving reveals the intricacies of immigration and assimilation in this debut, establishing a new and unforgettable voice in Caribbean-American literature. Restless, displaced, and disconnected, these characters try to ground themselves—to grow where they find themselves planted—in a world in which the tension between what’s said and unsaid can bend the soul.
While the 12 books on the 2023 longlist are diverse, disparate, and brilliant, they commonly display the innovative, striking, and resoundingly beautiful arc that represents Canadian fiction in 2023.
This year’s longlist includes:
- Willis for her novel “Girlfriend on Mars,” published by Hamish Hamilton
- David Bergen for his novel “Away From the Dead,” published by Goose Lane Editions
- Sarah Bernstein for her novel “Study For Obedience,” published by Knopf Canada
- Eleanor Catton for her novel “Birnam Wood,” published by McClelland & Stewart
- Kevin Chong for his novel “The Double Life of Benson Yu,” published by Simon & Schuster
- Nina Dunic for her novel “The Clarion,” published by Invisible Publishing
- Erum Shazia Hasan for her novel “We Meant Well,” published by ECW Press
- Dionne Irving for her short story collection, “The Islands: Stories,” published by Catapult Press
- Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer for her novel “Wait Softly Brother,” published by Wolak & Wynn
- Menaka Raman-Wilms for her novel “The Rooftop Garden,” published by Nightwood Editions
- CS Richardson for his novel “All The Colour in the World,” published by Knopf Canada
- Kasia Van Schaik for her short story collection “We Have Never Lived on Earth,” published by The University of Alberta Press
- Deborah Willis for her novel “Girlfriend on Mars,” published by Hamish Hamilton
The Prize will be announced on November 13th.