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Giller: An 'essential' name for Canada Reads?

Ah, "essential." We here at Canada Reads HQ think a variety of factors should be considered when deciding whether or not a novel is an "essential" read, including public reception, personal opinion, critical acclaim and the Canada Reads "X" factor. That is, does it have the potential to take home the title? We'll be exploring all this in the coming weeks before we unveil the Top 40. We've already (partially) looked at bestsellers. Today, we're going to (partially) explore critical acclaim!

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The Scotiabank Giller Prize, which was founded in 1993, is one of the biggest and most influential awards on the Canadian literary scene. Honouring the best in Canadian fiction, the prize not only includes a $50,000 payout, it also guarantees the winning title will rocket to the top of the bestseller charts. Previous finalists read like a Who's Who of Canadian literature. But what makes the Giller truly special is that it's so difficult to predict. Heavyweights, like Alice Munro, and relative newcomers, like Vincent Lam, have "Giller winner" on their resumés. Each year comes with a surprise or two, and 2010 is no different. This year's shortlist, which was unveiled on October 5, included small presses, short stories and up-and-comers. We can't wait to see who wins — and there's lots of time for speculating, because the winner won't be announced until November 9. (If you missed our look at the Scotiabank Giller Prize in the October Monthly Book Report, have a listen here.)

The Giller being so prominent, it's an award we can't ignore. Below is a list of the finalists (that fit this year's Canada Reads criteria) from the past 10 years. Which one do you think deserves a shot at the Canada Reads title? Be sure to cast your vote and share your thoughts on what "essential" should mean on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below.



Erin Balser is an associate producer of Canada Reads.

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