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.
Here we have Marina Endicott, author of The Little Shadows.
Q: Pitch Canada your novel in three lines or less.
Marina Endicott: A hundred years before American Idol, a thousand miles from So You Think You Can Dance, when a big band was a piano and a violin, three sisters turn to the vaudeville stage to keep themselves and their mama from the poorhouse. Frivolous but determined, with an enduring belief that things will work out in the end, Flora pushes Aurora, Clover and darling Bella from ragtime to riches.
Q: Which Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you like to see take home the prize?
ME: Impossible! Many of the nominees are friends, and I haven't been able to read all of the books I'm looking forward to yet, so I can't properly vote... But if Lynn Coady's amazing The Antagonist wins — dang, she's good — she'll probably take me out for dinner.
Q: What's your favourite bookish place in Canada?
ME: The Sally Borden at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In my mind's eye it's where Gil Adamson takes on Guy Vanderhaeghe in a game of pool while across the room, Tomson Highway watches the Stanley Cup playoffs with Joan Macleod, and Fred Stenson gets pleasantly argumentative over a beer with Noah Richler. It¹s transmogrified over the years but it's still there, the blue light of the swimming pool bathing the scene in mystical glow.
Q: Which Canadian author (alive or dead) would you most like to meet? Why?
ME: I'd like to go to Paris and have lunch with Mavis Gallant, please. And if she'd like me to stay in a nice hotel nearby and have lunch with her every day for two or three years, why, that's no problem at all.
Q: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?
ME: Neatly side-stepping all the appealing characters in this year's longlist, I'll go for E.H. Young's eponymous Miss Mole. I like her complicated sense of honour and flagrant dishonesty, her valiant attempts to make things better, and (no matter how poverty cramps) her very good shoes.
Q: What would you be if you weren't a writer?
ME: There's an amusing assumption built into this question that Canadian writers can afford to be writers only! Most of us are teachers or students or bureaucrats or treeplanters. If I weren't a writer, maybe I'd be back on stage by now, directing or auditioning for the precious few roles for women over 22.
Q: What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?
ME: Irma Voth by Miriam Toews. Tender, jagged, difficult, it's the rawest and to me the most beautiful of her books.
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.