ScotiaBank Gillers

Q & A with Michael Christie

This year, 17 Canadian authors made it to the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, the country's richest literary award for fiction. To get some further insight into their work and their inspirations, CBC Books asked the longlisted authors a series of questions. As the prize jury debates which books will be named to the shortlist, we'll be posting our Q&As for you to enjoy.

First up is Michael Christie, author of The Beggar's Garden.


Q: Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.

Michael Christie: The Beggar's Garden is a collection of linked stories set in Vancouver. Spanning every strata of society, the book portrays both the sadness and the hope to be found in our darkest urban corners. It should also be mentioned that I wrote the The Beggar's Garden after working for six years at a homeless shelter.

Q: Which Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you like to see take home the prize?

MC: So many fantastic books on the list, but I think The Free World by David Bezmozgis is just brilliant.

Q: What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?

MC: I'd say a combination of Russell Books and Munro's Books in Victoria. The two best bookstores I've ever seen. I miss them both dearly.

Q: Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet? Why?

MC: I believe whenever one is offered the chance to raise the dead, one must always take it. Normally, my reply would be: Mordecai Richler, smoked meat and a few litres of whiskey — but I'm trying to live better these days! So, I'd take a long walk around the UBC Endowment Lands with Earle Birney, during blackberry season.

beggarsgarden-125.jpgQ: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?

MC: The Devil in Milton's Paradise Lost. Why? Because he has all the best lines.

Q: What would you be if you weren't a writer?

MC: I think I'd be working a job somewhere, begrudgingly of course, probably in a healthcare-related field, enjoying myself as best I could, trying not to think about books to the point that my distraction could harm someone.

Q: What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?

MC: I recently read Next by James Hynes and it blew me away. So controlled and keenly observed. It's both an ode to, and condemnation of, our particularly North American pastime: self-obsession. The last 20 pages of this book are genuinely heart-arresting, so make sure you make it through. I normally don't say things like this, but Next is the first great post-9/11 novel.

Come back soon for more Q&As with the longlisted authors. In the meantime, check out our exciting Scotiabank Giller Prize contests. This month, you could win a $1,000 gift certificate to Chapters Indigo to build your dream library as part of our Select Your Shortlist contest.

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