A city can be much more than a simple backdrop to a tale, as shown by Toronto writer Craig Davidson in his Giller-nominated novel Cataract City.

His latest work takes place in a gritty Niagara Falls and focuses on childhood friends who, as adults, see their paths diverge to opposite ends of the law.

In the book, Davidson is "grappling with their evolving friendship and what it means to be two friends going on into adulthood and living in a city that holds its occupants pretty fiercely in its grip," he tells CBC News.

As the annual Giller Prize gala approaches, CBC News presents a chat with each finalist. The 2013 nominees are:

"I've always been interested in the dynamics of a city or a town and the hold it asserts on its residents."

Davidson had a glorious debut as an author: his first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and stories from the collection were adapted into a play and then a film by French auteur Jacques Audiard. He subsequently wrote two novels, The Fighter and Sarah Court.

In the attached video, Davidson talks to CBC’s Alice Hopton about seeing himself as a dark horse writer, exploring the changing nature of friendship and letting go of childhood.

The winner of the 2013 Giller Prize will be announced in Toronto the evening of Nov. 5, during a televised gala airing on CBC-TV.