CBC Books recently asked the shortlisted Scotiabank Giller Prize authors some questions about their literary inspirations. Here we have Lynn Coady, the author of The Antagonist. To read an excerpt from her novel, click here.
Q: Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.
LC: A big, angry man with a tragic past discovers a version of himself, and the past he’s been running away from his entire life, in a novel written by a friend from his university days. He sends the friend a series of stalkerish emails to let him know how he feels about that, claiming he’s writing to “set the record straight.” But to set the record straight, he has to face up to all the guilt, trauma and heartbreak he’s been in denial about for the past 20 years.
Q: What’s your favourite bookish place in Canada?
LC: I like McLeod’s Books in Vancouver. It’s everything a used bookstore should be — crammed, overwhelming and a place you can disappear into forever like C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe.
Q: Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet? Why?
LC: Alice Munro. I rediscover her in every decade of my life. In my twenties, she was a very fine writer. In my thirties, she was devastatingly good. Now that I’m in my 40s, I realize that I am completely terrified at how brilliant she is. It’s the kind of “unshowy” brilliance you don’t quite register until you have about 20 years reading experience under your belt.
Q: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?
LC: One of them is Frankie from Carson McCullers’ A Member of the Wedding. It’s the most ruthless and heartbreaking depiction of female adolescence I’ve ever come across.
Q: What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?
LC: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. It was so compelling that reading it was like being held hostage. Felt like I wouldn’t be able to get on with my life — eat, sleep, get work done — until I came to the final page.
We’ll be posting more Q&As in the weeks to come. In the meantime, check out the responses from our other shortlisted authors.