George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | Calgary Writer Will Ferguson Wins The 2012 Giller Prize For His Novel ‘419’

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Calgary Writer Will Ferguson Wins The 2012 Giller Prize For His Novel ‘419’
October 31, 2012
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Calgary writer Will Ferguson has won one of Canada's most prestigious literary awards - the 2012 Giller Prize.

Ferguson took home the $50,000 prize for his dark novel '419', at a gala in Toronto last night.

"I want to thank the jury for putting together such a fresh list of books," Ferguson said during his acceptance speech.

"I commend them for taking the books on their own merit, without preconceptions -- which is how a jury should act."

He concluded by saying "Ladies and gentlemen: To the written word."

calgary-writer-will-ferguson-wins-the-2012-giller-prize-for-his-dark-novel-419-feature1.jpg Ferguson is best known for his travel and humour writing, and is a three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.

'419' was something a bit different for him. It's a dark mystery thriller that takes the reader from Canada to Nigeria, and gets into the oil industry, internet scams, and murder.

"I think my publisher really took more of a risk than I did, to be honest, when I switched to literary fiction," Ferguson said.

Along with the $50,000, Ferguson will likely see a boost in sales for '419' - otherwise known as "the Giller effect."

Ferguson plans to switch things up again for his next book. He says it will be a travel narrative about Rwanda, Burundi and potentially eastern Congo.

"I try to switch between fiction and travel. It uses different parts of your brain. No, I'm not giving up on travel writing, but I'm certainly enjoying fiction."

Ferguson was up against St. John's writer Russell Wangersky ('Whirl Away') and Montreal authors Nancy Richler ('The Imposter Bride'), Alix Ohlin ('Inside') and Kim Thuy ('Ru').

Each of them will receive $5,000.

Rick Mercer, Olympic gold medal gymnast Rosie MacLennan, actress Kim Cattrall, soprano Measha Brueggergosman and actor Allan Hawco each introduced one of the finalists.

Actor Gordon Pinsent, interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae and Conrad Black were among the guests who attended the awards gala. Past Giller-winners Margaret Atwood, Vincent Lam and Linden Macintyre were also at the event.

Irish author Roddy Doyle, Canadian publisher and writer Anna Porter and American satirist Gary Shteyngart made up this year's jury.

They read more than 140 books in about 4½ months, according to businessman and prize founder Jack Rabinovitch.

The Giller goes to the best English-language fiction written in the past year. Past winners include Mordecai Richler, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro and Esi Edugyan.

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