One of Canada's best-known humorists, a trio of Montreal writers and an East Coast author who splits his time between fiction-writing and journalism will be celebrated in Toronto Tuesday night, but only one will emerge as winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
The $50,000 literary prize, one of Canada's most prestigious literary honours, is awarded annually to the best book of Canadian fiction (novel or short story collection) published in English over the past year.
The winner will be announced at a posh gala at Toronto's Ritz-Carleton Hotel Tuesday evening by prize creator Jack Rabinovitch and this year's three-member jury: American satirist Gary Shteyngart, Irish author Roddy Doyle and Canadian publisher and writer Anna Porter.
Calgary-based author Will Ferguson, a three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, is nominated for a darker turn: his thriller 419.
Montreal dominates the nominee list this year with three shortlisted authors: relative newcomer Alix Ohlin for her novel Inside, established writer Nancy Richler for her historical tale The Imposter Bride and debut author Kim Thuy for her poetic memoir Ru (translated by award-winner Sheila Fischman).
St. John's-based journalist Russell Wangersky rounds out the finalists. A 2012 Giller nominee for his short story collection Whirl Away, he was previously acclaimed for Burning Down the House, a memoir about his years as a volunteer firefighter.
In addition to the $50,000 grand prize for the winner, the remaining Giller finalists receive $5,000 each.
Watch video interviews of the finalists
Awarded annually since in 1994, the prize typically offers a major sales boost to the winning title — now dubbed "the Giller effect." Past recipients have included writers such as Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Esi Edugyan and Vincent Lam.
Emceed by Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio's Q cultural affairs show, the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize gala will be broadcast from Toronto. The ceremony will include tributes to the five finalists and feature presentations by gymnast and Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan, satirist Rick Mercer, actress Kim Cattrall, soprano Measha Brueggergosman and actor Allan Hawco.
The ceremony will air at 9 p.m. (local time) on CBC-TV and will also be livestreamed on CBC Books.