Canada's brightest literary lights turn their focus to Toronto today for the 20th annual Giller Prize, the $50,000 award considered one of the country's most prestigious writing honours.

Past finalists Lisa Moore and Lynn Coady earned nominations once again: the St. John's author for her pot-smuggling adventure Caught and the Edmonton writer for her short story collection Hellgoing, respectively.

Their rivals for the fiction-writing prize are:

  • Toronto's Dennis Bock for his novel Going Home Again.
  • Toronto's Craig Davidson for his novel Cataract City.
  • Edmonton's Dan Vyleta for his novel The Crooked Maid.

All five finalists will be celebrated at a glitzy, star-studded evening gala in Toronto, with filmmaker Paul Haggis, actress-producer Jennifer Podemski and hip-hop artist Shad among the night's presenters. The gala will be broadcast live online by CBC Books and on CBC-TV at 9 p.m. (9:30 p.m. NT).

WATCH: CBC News talks to the 2013 Giller Prize finalists

This year's three-member jury — authors Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan and Jonathan Lethem — will choose the winner. In addition to the $50,000 main prize for the winner, the remaining finalists receive $5,000 each.

The Giller Prize was established by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in memory of his late literary journalist wife, Doris Giller. Past winners have included CanLit icons such as Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje. Over the years, winning the prize has also shone a spotlight on lesser-known writers, such as Johanna Skibsrud and Vincent Lam.

Over two decades, the prize has become one of Canada's most prestigious arts honours and spawned a post-win sales boom dubbed the "Giller effect."