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The 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced its shortlist on Monday. The five titles were chosen from a longlist of 12 books announced in St. John’s, NL in September. One hundred and four titles were submitted from publishers across the country.

 

French Exit Patrick deWittFrench Exit by Patrick deWitt

Patrick DeWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Undermajordomo Minor, Ablutions, and The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Jury Citation
A “tragedy of manners” about people out of sync in the world, this novel is disconcertingly funny. It strikes postures where a more conventional writer would have been sincere and humourless. Its subjects are effrontery, wealth, death and bad manners. Many of the greatest novels are about nothing so very important, and they last because they are done beautifully. French Exit shows Patrick deWitt’s literary mastery and perfect ear. It’s an immaculate performance on ice, executed with sharp shining blades, lutzing and

 

 

Songs For the Cold of Heart by Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge Songs for the Cold of Heart Eric Dupont

Born in 1970, Eric Dupont lives and works in Montreal. He has published 4 novels with Marchand de feuilles and in France with Éditions du Toucan and Éditions J’ai lu (Flammarion). He is a past winner of Radio-Canada’s “Combat des livres” (the equivalent of the CBC’s Canada Reads contest), a finalist for the Prix littéraire France-­Québec and the Prix des cinq continents, and a winner of the Prix des libraires and the Prix littéraire des collégiens. His fourth novel, Songs for the Cold of Heart (La fiancée américaine) translated by Peter McCambridge, has sold over 60,000 copies in Quebec alone.

Jury Citation
Once upon a time in Quebec there was a girl named Madeleine. A tiny red headed waif with only a suitcase in her possession steps off a train in a frozen village, and a strapping Quebec man falls head over heels in love with her strangeness. A baby is born from this union that is so big, it manages to kill both its parents in childbirth. As magnificent a work of irony and magic as the boldest works of Gabriel Garcí¬a Márquez, but with a wholly original sensibility that captures the marvellous obsessions of the Quebecois zeitgeist of the twentieth century. It is without any doubt, a tour de force. And the translation is as exquisite as a snowflake pirouetting above unknowable black depths.

 

Washington Black Esi EdugyanWashington Black by Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for her novel Half-Blood Blues. The novel was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. The author lives in Victoria, BC.

Jury Citation
How often history asks us to underestimate those trapped there. This remarkable novel imagines what happens when a black man escapes history’s inevitable clasp – in his case, in a hot air balloon no less. Washington Black, the hero of Esi Edugyan’s novel is born in the 1800s in Barbados with a quick mind, a curious eye, and a yearning for adventure. In conjuring Black’s vivid and complex world – as cruel empires begin to crumble and the frontiers of science open like astounding vistas – Edugyan has written a supremely engrossing novel about friendship and love and the way identity is sometimes a far more vital act of imagination than the age in which one lives.

 

 

Motherhood by Sheila HetiMotherhood Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti is the author of seven books, including the novel How Should a Person Be? which was named a New York Times Notable Book; the story collection The Middle Stories; and the novel Ticknor. Her books have been translated into twelve languages, and her writing has been featured in various publications, including the New York Times, London Review of Books, the New Yorker, n+ 1, McSweeney’s, Harper’s and the Believer. She lives in Toronto.

Jury Citation
A personal story, a feminist debate, a philosophical reflection on time, genealogy and Art – these are just some of the narrative strands that Sheila Heti weaves into Motherhood, a complex and defiant exploration of contemporary womanhood. As her narrator interrogates the spaces between motherhood and childlessness, other paths, other choices, emerge, including the possibilities of fiction itself. In her playful but precise prose, Heti turns interiority into an expansive landscape with life-altering implications for her narrator and anyone with an interest in the paradoxes of choice and the randomness of free will.

 

An Ocean of Minutes Thea LimAn Ocean of Limits by Thea Lim

Thea Lim’s writing has been published by the Southampton Review, the Guardian, Salon, the Millions, Bitch magazine, Utne Reader, and others, and she has received multiple awards and fellowships for her work. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and she previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto.

Jury Citation
America is in the midst of a deadly flu pandemic. In order to afford medical treatment for her husband, a young woman agrees to travel through time. They agree to meet in the future. What is five minutes for her is twelve years for him. And, in the briefest of moments, they have become irreconcilable strangers. In an Ocean of Minutes, debut novelist, Thea Lim asks the reader to confront contemporary issues – social class, immigration, citizenship, corporate power, poverty, and the all too familiar, love and loss. The novel is beautifully written and guides us through a plot that moves backwards and forward – yet, never lets us go.

 

 Chris Hall is co-owner of McNally Robinson's Booksellers. He says he's really happy with the shortlist. 

 "The Giller list this year offers an intriguing variety of known and unknown names as well as large and small publishers. As always the Giller shortlist is a great way to discover new Canadian authors."

The shortlist was selected by a jury comprised of Canadian writers Kamal Al-Solaylee and Heather O'Neill, Toronto International Film Festival executive Maxine Bailey, English novelist Philip Hensher and American writer John Freeman.

The winner of the $100-thousand-dollar prize will be announced Nov. 19.

To read excerpts from the novels or to see the longlist of nominees go to scotiabankgillerprize.ca.