The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist revealed

Rachel Cusk, Ed O'Loughlin, Michael Redhill, Eden Robinson and Michelle Winters are vying for the $100,000 prize — the richest in Canadian literature.
The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist, from left: Rachel Cusk, Ed O'Loughlin, Michael Redhill, Eden Robinson and Michelle Winters. (Rachel Cusk/Nuala Haughey/Canadian Press/Chris Young/Invisible Publishing)

Five novels have made the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist and will contend for the $100,000 literary prize — the richest in Canadian literature. 

Eden Robinson makes her return to the shortlist with the novel Son of a TricksterHer first appearance was in 2000 for Monkey Beach

Other repeat finalists are Michael Redhill, for Bellevue Squareand Rachel Cusk, for Transit. Redhill was on the list in 2001 with Martin Sloane and Cusk in 2015 for Outline.

Michelle Winters and Ed O'Loughlin are making their Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist debuts this year.

Winters' novel I Am a Truck is Picton, Ont.-based publisher Invisible Publishing's first title on a Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist. O'Loughlin is on the shortlist for his book Minds of Winter.

You can learn more about this year's finalists below.

The 2017 jury includes Canadian writers Anita Rau Badami, André Alexis and Lynn Coady, American writer Nathan Englander and British author Richard Beard.

The 2017 winner will be announced at a Toronto gala hosted by comedian Mary Walsh on Nov. 20, 2017. It will be broadcast on CBC-TV at 8 p.m (12:00 a.m. AT, 12:30 a.m. NT). 

A special radio broadcast of the gala, hosted by The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers and q book columnist Jael Richardson, will air on CBC Radio One.

Transit by Rachel Cusk

Rachel Cusk was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015 for Outline. Her novel Transit continues the story of Outline's narrator, a writer named Faye. (Rachel Cusk)

What it's about: After her marriage ends, Faye moves from her home in the country to a derelict apartment in London with her children. In rebuilding her life, Faye seeks out conversation with those she encounters — a contractor, her hairdresser, an ex-boyfriend and others — listening keenly to their stories on abandonment, rejection and transformation.

What the jury said: "In Transit, Rachel Cusk's elegant, witty and brilliantly realized novel, Faye, a writer, moves to London with her young sons and purchases a dilapidated apartment. On this deceptively simple scaffolding, Cusk constructs a series of finely observed and complex stories about people whose paths intersect with the narrator's. The result is a book which is simultaneously intimate and expansive, alight with wisdom and humour, an exquisitely poised meditation on life time, and change."

Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin

Minds of Winter by Ed O'Loughlin is a Canadian Arctic adventure, infused with historical mystery. (Nuala Haughey/Anansi)

What it's about: In Inuvik, N.W.T., two strangers search for lost family members. Nelson Nilsson is looking for his estranged older brother and Fay for her grandfather. When a familiar image among Nelson's research captures Fay's attention, the pair find themselves caught up in an historic mystery involving an ancient chronometer and Sir John Franklin's Northwest Passage expedition.

What the jury said: "Bright moments from the distant past spring up beside dark moments from the present, things hidden — a death, a gift, a lost clock — come briefly into view and then disappear forever. In Minds of Winter, Ed O'Loughlin's brilliant story of Polar exploration, time itself is an Arctic: a mysterious dimension of sun craze and apparitions, chance encounters and destiny. The mechanism of this novel is fascinating to observe, its implications are deeply human. In O'Loughlin's work, our desire for knowledge, our obsession with the past, our grappling with life itself... all of it is generously, wittily on display."

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill is about a woman who becomes unhinged upon learning about her doppelganger. (Canadian Press/Penguin Random House)

What it's about: Jean Mason reportedly has a doppelganger — one that enjoys eating churros and hanging out in Kensington Market, a bohemian neighbourhood in Toronto. The revelation becomes an obsession for the grounded business owner and mother, who ends up hanging around the market for glimpses of her and offering payment to anybody with information. The investigation grows sinister as those she recruits begin disappearing.

What the jury said: "To borrow a line from Michael Redhill's beautiful Bellevue Square, 'I do subtlety in other areas of my life.' So let's look past the complex literary wonders of this book, the doppelgangers and bifurcated brains and alternate selves, the explorations of family, community, mental health and literary life. Let's stay straightforward, and tell you that beyond the mysterious elements, this novel is warm and funny and smart. Let's celebrate that it is, simply, a pleasure to read."

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson is about a teenager named Jared trying to juggle the demands of his family and weed cookie customers. (Chris Young/Knopf Canada)

What it's about: Jared is many things: a compassionate 16 year old, maker of famous weed cookies, caretaker of his elderly neighbours, son of an unreliable father and unhinged, though loving in her way, mother. As Jared ably cares for those around him, in between getting black-out drunk, he shrugs off the magical and strange happenings that follow him around. 

What the jury said: "Eden Robinson's Son of a Trickster is a novel that shimmers with magic and vitality, featuring a compelling narrator, somewhere between Holden Caulfield and Harry Potter. Just when you think Jared's teenage journey couldn't be more grounded in gritty, grinding reality, his addled perceptions take us into a realm beyond his small town life, somewhere both seductive and dangerous. Energetic, often darkly funny, sometimes poignant, this is a book that will resonate long after the reader has devoured the final page."

I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters

I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters is a novel about a woman whose husband of 20 years disappears into thin air. (Invisible Publishing)

What it's about: When Réjean Lapointe vanishes without a trace, he leaves behind his wife of nearly 20 years and his beloved Chevy Silverado. Agathe is distraught by her husband's disappearance and ends up forming friendships with her rock-and-roll-loving coworker Debbie and a man named Martin, who might just know what happened to Réjean.

What the jury said: "French or English, stick or twist, Chevy or Ford? Michelle Winters has written an original, offbeat novel that explores the gaps between what people are and what they want to be. For a short book I Am a Truck is bursting with huge appetites, for love and le rock-and-roll and cheese, for male friendship and takeout tea with the bag left in. Within the novel's distinctive Acadian setting French and English co-exist like old friends — comfortable, supple to each other's whims and rhythms, sometimes bickering but always contributing to this fine, very funny, fully-achieved novel about connection and misunderstanding. And trucks."

The shortlisted writers will participate in special events across Canada and in the U.K. this year, with readings taking place in Calgary on Oct. 12, in Vancouver on Oct. 16, in Halifax on Oct. 26, in Ottawa on Nov. 1, in Toronto on Nov. 6 and in London, U.K., on Nov. 9.

Jack Rabinovitch, who founded the Giller Prize in 1994, died earlier this year at the age of 87. Rabinovitch created the award to honour his wife, literary journalist Doris Giller who died in 1993, and to provide a prominent platform on which to recognize excellence in Canadian fiction.

The Giller Prize initially endowed a cash prize of $25,000, which was the largest purse for literature in the country. In 2005, the award teamed up with Scotiabank and the prize grew to $40,000 for the winner and $5,000 for each of the finalists. In 2014, the prize increased to $100,000 for the winner and $10,000 for the remaining finalists.

Explore the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists:

Watch the shortlist announcement:

Contest

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