Michael Ondaatje, Guy Vanderhaeghe and David Bezmozgis have been nominated for the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s richest fiction prize.

The Giller Prize jury announced a long list of 16 authors, drawn from among 143 books entered for the prize, on Tuesday. A 17th title was chosen by the public as part of a CBC Books contest.

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Michael Ondaatje's The Cat's Table has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. (Canadian Press)

Two Canadians who are nominees for the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize —Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt — also earned nominations.

The full list:

  • The Free World by David Bezmozgis of Toronto, HarperCollins.
  • The Meagre Tarmac by Clarke Blaise, based in San Francisco, Biblioasis.
  • The Antagonist by Lynn Coady of Edmonton, House of Anansi Press.
  • The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie of Victoria, HarperCollins.
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, based in Portland, Ore., House of Anansi.
  • Extensions by Myrna Dey of Kamsack, Sask., NeWest Press
  • Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan of Victoria, Thomas Allen Publishers.
  • The Little Shadows by Marina Endicott of Edmonton, Doubleday Canada.
  • Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner of Vancouver, Hamish Hamilton Canada.
  • Solitaria by Genni Gunn of Vancouver, Signature Editions.
  • Into the Heart of the Country by Pauline Holdstock of Vancouver Island, HarperCollins.
  • A World Elsewhere by Wayne Johnston of Toronto, Knopf Canada.
  • The Return by Dany Laferrière of Montreal (translation, David Homel), Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Monoceros by Suzette Mayr of Calgary, Coach House Books.
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje of Toronto, McClelland & Stewart.
  • A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe of Saskatoon, McClelland & Stewart.
  • Touch by Alexi Zentner of Ithica, N.Y., Knopf Canada

For the first time in the 18-year history of the book prize, the public has picked one of the nominees.

Readers' Choice

Dey’s Extensions was selected as a contender for the award in an online contest at CBC Books.

Dey is debut novelist who lives in small-town Saskatchewan and her book, published by a small Western press, has not previously had mainstream media attention. Instead, it benefited from word of mouth, particularly in Kamsack, where Dey has lived for the last 35 years, and in B.C., where the story is set.

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Myrna Dey is a debut novelist at 69 and readers voted her onto the Giller Prize long list. (NeWest Press)

Dey, 69, has previously published essays and stories, but Extensions is her first novel in publication. 

It follows an RCMP officer in current day Vancouver Island, who begins to delve into the story of her grandmother, a woman who lived in Extension, B.C., a former mining community that is now a ghost town. Her digging uncovers an old murder mystery — a story Dey drew from the real-life history of Extension.

"She saves her grandmother's life from oblivion as the story is unearthed," Dey said in an interview with CBC News. "There is an African saying that a person never dies as long as someone cares about them."

Dey was inspired in part by letters from her own grandmother, a miner's wife in Extension in the early 20th century. But she also drew inspiration from her daughter, an RCMP officer in B.C.

"I went on a ride-along with her and it opened up a world I'd never seen before," she said. Dey's daughter also helped her shape the passages describing a police officer's life.

Dey said she considers herself very lucky to have come so far with the book. "It feels very good," she said of her Giller nomination.

The shortlisted finalists will be revealed at a news conference in Toronto on Oct.  4. The winner will be announced at a gala ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 8, to be broadcast on CBC Television.