Egyptian and Nigerian Canadians on short listed for 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

Last Tuesday the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist was announced, celebrating five Canadian fiction writers and the 28th edition of the Prize.

The authors named to the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist are:

– Omar El Akkad for his novel What Strange Paradise  

– Angélique Lalonde for her story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings

– Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia for her novel The Son of The House

– Jordan Tannahill for his novel The Listeners

– Miriam Toews for her novel Fight Night.

This year’s jury, made up of Canadian authors Zalika Reid-Benta (Jury Chair), Megan Gail Coles and Joshua Whitehead, Malaysian novelist Tash Aw and American author Joshua Ferris, narrowed down the 132 submitted works to 12 to create the longlist and today announced the shortlisted authors.

Among the 12 authors are Egyptian-Canadian Omar El Akkad and Nigerian-Canadian Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia.

Omar El Akkad

El Akkad Omar El Akkad was born in Cairo, Egypt, and grew up in Doha, Qatar. When he was 16 years old, he moved to Canada, completing high school in Montreal and university at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Onyemelukwe-Onuobia was born in 1978 in Nigeria. She is a lawyer and academic who has done much advocacy work on issues such as violence against women and girls, and health. She holds a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University in Canada and often advises international organisations.

The Giller Prize, founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. In 2005, the prize teamed up with Scotiabank who increased the winnings 4-fold. The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August 2017.

This year, a gala will be held at the Park Hyatt Hotel in downtown Toronto. Given the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the size of the gala will be greatly reduced in number and scope. The Prize’s main concern is the health and safety of those attending, namely the authors, publishers and agents.