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Which Canadian Author Will Win The Giller Prize Tonight?
October 30, 2012
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It's a big night for Canadian fiction.

The Giller Prize for the year's best work of Canadian fiction will be handed out this evening at an event in Toronto. You can catch the Giller ceremony on CBC-TV, emceed by the host of CBC's 'Q,' Jian Ghomeshi, at 9 pm local time, or live-stream it from the CBC Books website.

So who's up for this year's prize? The shortlist of five authors includes three Montrealers, one of the country's best-known humourists, and an East Coast author who is also a journalist.

Here's a run-down of the nominated books and authors.

gillers-thuy-small.jpgKim Thuy, 'Ru'

'Ru' is the first novel from Kim Thuy, who was born in Saigon and now lives in Montreal. Originally written in French (it won a Governor General's Literary Award in 2010 in its original language), it was published in English this year.

Based in part on Thuy's own experiences, the book tells the story of a young woman forced to leave her home in Saigon during the Vietnam War. She lands at a Malaysian refugee camp and emigrates to Quebec.

Thuy calls the book a tribute to the personal heroes she has encountered over her life and an homage to the Canadians who welcomed her to this country.

gillers-ferguson-small.jpgWill Ferguson, '419'

He's best known as a satirist, travel writer and humourist, but Will Ferguson's '419' is not a comedy. It's a dark thriller that takes the reader from Canada to Nigeria, and delves into the oil industry, internet scams, and murder.

On the Giller site, the jury says the novel "points in the direction of something entirely new: the Global Novel. It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America."

It's also a pretty big departure for Ferguson. In an interview, he says the inspiration to write a story revolving around a con man came in part from his father, who was "suspiciously well-informed about the inner workings of con games and con artists."

gillers-ohlin-small.jpgAlex Ohlin, 'Inside'

This is Ohlin's second novel, and although it's ambitious in scope - the book takes readers to Montreal, New York, Hollywood and Rwanda, and there are four distinct narrative voices - it remains "a novel about people," according to the Giller jury.

"The novel is full of surprises and things to admire, but the writing is genuinely clever because it always serves the characters," according to the jury's citation.

The book has obviously struck a chord: it's also up for the Rogers Writer's Trust Fiction Prize. According to Ohlin, all the attention is a change of pace: "This is a very rare blip in a life that usually involves a lot of sitting around in pajamas," she said.

gillers-wangersky-small.jpgRussell Wangersky, 'Whirl Away'

There are 12 stories in this collection by Russell Wangersky, and the majority of them are pretty dark. There are random deaths, domestic arguments, and people out of control of their own lives.

According to the Giller jury, "they are full of people trying to cope, trying to change, trying to live. They are stories of lives close to breaking, written with great skill and confidence."

And critics see more than just darkness in the collection: "the stories are shot through with a wicked sense of humour," according to reviewer Nathan Whitlock. And Chanah Rubenstein says Wangersky's style helps to sell the stories: "His use of tone, pitch and speed is pliable and matches the personality of the central character, which creates a smooth transition for the reader."

gillers-richler-small.jpgNancy Richler, 'The Imposter Bride'

This novel from Nancy Richler is about the mystery of Lily Azerov, a young woman who arrives in Montreal after the end of the Second World War.

The novel focuses on Lily's daughter as she tries to find answers about her mother's real identity and true motives.

The Giller jury calls it "a wonderfully nuanced work of fiction by a master of the craft," and Donna Bailey Nurse, who reviewed the novel, says "'The Imposter Bride' elaborates Richler's essential themes: Jewish history, maternal absence, female experience and the significance of the word."

Don't miss tonight's broadcast to find out which one of the authors will take the $50,000 prize. The event is taking place at Toronto's Ritz-Carlton.

In addition to emceeing from Jian, the show will feature appearances from Rick Mercer, Allan Hawco, Kim Cattrall, Measha Brueggergosman and gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Rosie MacLennan.

Related:

Looking To Curl Up With A Good Book? Check Out The Finalists For One Of Canada's Top Literary Honours - The Giller Prize

The Well-Read Dead: Zombies on the Giller Prize

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