ScotiaBank Gillers

Q&A with Genni Gunn

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. We've been posting the Q&As for your enjoyment, while the prize jury deliberates over the shortlist. That list will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

In the meantime, here's our Q&A with Genni Gunn, author of Solitaria.

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

genni_gunn.jpgGenni Gunn: When Vito Santoro's body is accidentally unearthed by a demolition crew in Fregene, Italy, his siblings are thrown into turmoil, having been told by their sister Piera that Vito had fled to Argentina 50 years earlier after abandoning his wife and son. Now scattered over three continents, Vito's siblings regroup in Italy to try to discover the truth. As the stories emerge, weaving past and present, so do versions and perspectives, memories and secrets.

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

GG: I have not had a chance to read all the other longlisted titles, so I do not want to venture a guess. All the authors are masters at their craft, so I have no doubt any one of the books would be deserving of the prize.

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

GG: When we had a lot of small independent bookstores in Canada, those were marvellous, bookish places to be in. One in my neighbourhood, Booktique, had an owner who would rush up and tell me what new authors I would love. She was always right. Unfortunately, Booktique is gone, as are many other bookstores just like it.

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

GG: I would love to meet Margaret Laurence, not only because she was a brilliant writer and an astute observer of human nature, but also because of her volatility, which surely contributed to her art, and also to her death. I come from a dramatic family, made up of various artists, and volatility (at least in our family) appears to be a stimulant for creative lives.

Q: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?

GG: This is a very difficult one. Too many to mention, but here are three: I love the spunk and humour of Moll Flanders, the wallowing desperation of Judith Hearne (The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne) and the hilarious despair of Patrick Doyle (A Disaffection by James Kelman).solitaria-125.jpg

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

GG: Assuming you mean if I could alter my life beginning from age 5 or so, I'd be a ballet dancer. Body language.

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

GG: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut. I am an avid traveller and great admirer of Galgut's work. This book contains three journeys into physical landscapes and landscapes of the self. Interesting structure. Gorgeous writing.

Q&A with David Homel

Q&A with Marina Endicott

Q&A with Pauline Holdstock

Q&A with Michael Christie

Q&A with Suzette Mayr

Q&A with Esi Edugyan

Q&A with Alexi Zentner

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