The 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalists

The Giller Prize is a Canadian literary award for authors of novels or collected short stories published the previous year. The prize has been awarded since 1994 and acclaimed authors such as Margaret Atwood, M.G. Vassanji and Mordecai Richler have won.

2011 has six shortlisted nominees:

David Bezmozgis, The Free World

Summer, 1978. In the bustling streets of Rome, strange new creatures have appeared: thousands of Soviet Jews who have escaped to freedom through a crack in the Iron Curtain. Among the thousands who have landed in Italy to secure visas for new lives in the West are the members of the Krasnansky family — three generations of Russian Jews.

Together, they will spend six months in Rome — their way station and purgatory. They will immerse themselves in the carnival of emigration, an Italy rife with love affairs and ruthless hustles, with dislocation and nostalgia, with the promise and peril of a better life. In the unforgettable Krasnansky family, Bezmozgis has created an intimate portrait of a tumultuous era.

The Free World is a heartfelt multigenerational saga of great historical scope and even greater human depth.


Lynn Coady, The Antagonist

Against his will and his nature, the hulking Gordon Rankin (“Rank”) is cast as a goon by his classmates, his hockey coaches, and especially by his own father. Rank gamely lives up to his role — until tragedy strikes, using Rank as its blunt instrument. Escaping the only way he can, Rank disappears. But almost twenty years later he discovers that an old, trusted friend — the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins — has published a novel mirroring Rank’s life.

Lynn Coady delves deeply into the ways we sanction and stoke male violence, giving us a large-hearted, often hilarious portrait of a man tearing himself apart in order to put himself back together.



Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers

Patrick deWitt pays homage to the classic Western, transforming it into an unforgettable comic tour de force. Filled with a remarkable cast of characters – losers, cheaters, and ne’er-do-wells from all stripes of life – and told by a complex and compelling narrator, it is a violent, lustful odyssey through the underworld of the 1850s frontier that beautifully captures the humour, melancholy, and grit of the Old West and two brothers bound by blood, violence, and love.


Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues

Paris, 1940.  A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again.  He is twenty years old.  He is a German citizen.  And he is black. Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero’s fate.  From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of  Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of resistance.


Zsuzsi Gartner, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

A collection of short stories with lacerating satire and darker humour. Gartner casts her eye on evolution, modern manhood, international adoption, war photography, real estate, the movie industry, motivational speakers and even terrorism. These stories ruthlessly expose our most secret desires, and allow us to snort with laughter at the grotesque world we’d live in if we all got what we wanted.


Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table

Chronicles a young boy’s passage from Sri Lanka to London onboard the Oronsay, both as it unfolds and in hindsight. The boy’s companions at the so-called Cat’s Table, where the ship’s unconnected strays dine together, become his friends and teachers, each leading him closer to the key that unlocks the Oronsay‘s mystery decades later.


The winner of this year’s prize will be announced on November 8th.


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