Books

Margaret Atwood, André Alexis among 12 writers longlisted for $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

The annual award recognizes the best in Canadian fiction. The shortlist will be revealed on Sept. 30, 2019.
Margaret Atwood's The Testaments and André Alexis's Days By Moonlight are among the 12 books longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press, The Canadian Press/Chris Young)

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments and André Alexis's Days by Moonlight are among the 12 books longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize, an annual $100,000 award that recognizes the best in Canadian fiction.

Both Atwood and Alexis have won the prize before — Atwood in 1996 for Alias Grace and Alexis in 2015 for Fifteen Dogs.

The Testaments is also on the shortlist for the 2019 Booker Prize.

David Bezmozgis is on the longlist for his short story collection Immigrant City. Bezmozgis has been nominated twice in the past — in 2014 for The Betrayers and 2011 for The Free World.

Alix Ohlin is longlisted for Dual Citizens and Michael Crummey is up for The Innocents. Both have been finalists in the past.

The longlist also features three debut novels — Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta, Reproduction by Ian Williams and Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles.

Here's the full 2019 longlist:

The longlist was selected by a five-person jury comprised of Donna Bailey Nurse, Randy Boyagoda, José Teodoro, Aminatta Forna and Aleksandar Hemon.

117 titles were submitted to the prize for consideration this year.

"The 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist reveals and affirms a welcome and timely truth: Canadian fiction in 2019 is as confident in its exploration and interrogation of the local as it is curious and voracious in its engagement with the world beyond our borders, with time and place being understood in ways that are expansive, warping and unexpectedly intimate," the jury said in a press release.

"These books make it plain that great writing happens when art and ideas matter over all else in establishing the imaginative terrain that readers are invited, inspired, and challenged to explore."

The shortlist will be announced on Monday, Sept. 30.

The winner will be announced at a gala event in Toronto on Nov. 18, 2019 — which happens to be Atwood's 80th birthday.

The awards ceremony will air on CBC, CBC Radio One and will be livestreamed on CBC Books.

Keep reading to learn more about the longlisted books and authors.

Days by Moonlight by André Alexis

Days by Moonlight is a novel by André Alexis. (Coach House Books)

In Days by Moonlightbotanist Alfred Homer agrees to go on a research road trip with Professor Morgan Bruno, an old friend of Alfred's deceased parents. As the sun sets, the two depart in search of an obscure, possibly dead poet named John Skennen and encounter a host of oddities in the gothic underworld of southern Ontario. 

Days by Moonlight is the fourth book in André Alexis's acclaimed quincunx, which includes the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Canada Reads winner Fifteen Dogs.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of The Testaments. (McClelland & Stewart)

The Testaments is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale and includes the "explosive testaments" of three women. Little else is known about the hotly-anticipated novel, but Atwood has teased that the book will answer readers' questions on the inner-workings of Gilead, the oppressive dystopia where Offred, the novel's original narrator, was stripped of her freedoms and forced to be a handmaid for powerful men.

Atwood is a novelist, poet and comic writer from Toronto. She won the Giller Prize in 1996 for Alias Grace. The Testaments is also shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize. It will be available to the public on Sept. 10, 2019.

Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis

Immigrant City is a short story collection by David Bezmozgis. (HarperCollins Canada)

In the stories of Immigrant City, a wannabe boxer finds work as a security guard in the Toronto suburbs, a father and daughter end up in a strange rendition of his immigrant childhood and a young man unwittingly makes contact with the underworld. 

Bezmozgis has been a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize twice in the past — in 2014 for The Betrayers and 2011 for The Free World. Born in Latvia, Bezmozgis lives in Toronto.

Greenwood by Michael Christie

Michael Christie is the author of Greenwood. (McClelland & Stewart)

In Greenwood, it's the year 2038 and most of the world has suffered from an environmental collapse. But there is a remote island with 1,000 year-old trees and Jake Greenwood works as a tour guide there. From there, the novel takes you back in time as you learn more about Jake, her family and how secrets and lies can have an impact for generations.

Christie has been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize twice in the past — in 2015 for If I Fall, If I Die and in 2011 for The Beggar's GardenHe lives in Victoria and Galiano Island, B.C. Greenwood will be available to the public on Sept. 24, 2019.

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

Megan Gail Coles's debut novel Small Game Hunting At The Local Coward Gun Club is out now. (Playwrights Canada Press, House of Anansi Press)

 Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, Megan Gail Coles's debut novel, revolves around a cast of flawed characters who are implicated in each other's hopes, dreams and pains as they try to survive harsh economic times in the province. 

Coles is a playwright from St. John's. She previously published the short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

Michael Crummey's new book is called The Innocents. (Doubleday Canada, Holly Hogan)

In The Innocents, a young brother and sister live in isolation in Newfoundland, surviving alone on the bits of knowledge their parents left behind. Their loyalty to one another is the reason they are able to persist through storms and illness, but their relationship is tested as they grow older.

Crummey was previously a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2001 for River Thieves. The Newfoundland writer's other books include Sweetland and Galore.

Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds

Dream Sequence is a novel by Adam Foulds. (Biblioasis, Nigel Barklie)

Dream Sequence is a novel about an TV actor who dreams of making over his career — and his life. Despite finding success and popularity on a U.K. television show, Henry Banks wants to be a serious film actor. As he takes steps toward making this happen, an American fan has her own ideas in mind.

Foulds is a poet and novelist from London, U.K. and now lives in Toronto. His previous books include The Quickening Maze, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Late Breaking by K.D. Miller

Late Breaking is a short story collection by K.D. Miller. (Andrew Leith McRae, Biblioasis)

Late Breaking, a linked collection of short stories, is based on the art of Alex Colville. The collection centres on characters occupying Sackville, N.B., where Colville lived and taught for many years. The characters that Miller portrays are getting older and contending with a world that focuses predominantly on youth.

 Miller's previous books include the short story collections The Other Voice and All Saints, which was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2014. Miller lives in Toronto.

Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin

Dual Citizens is a novel by Alix Ohlin. (House of Anansi Press)

In Dual Citizens, Lark Brossard is a supporting character in the lives of her artistically talented loved ones: her sister Robin is a wild and brilliant pianist, while her sometime lover Lawrence is a famous filmmaker. When Lawrence tells her he doesn't want children, Lark re-examines her life and takes control of her story.

Ohlin was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012 for her novel InsideShe is the chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia.

Lampedusa by Steven Price

Steven Price is the author of Lampedusa. (McClelland & Stewart)

In Lampedusa, the last prince of Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi, faces the end of his life in 1950s Sicily. He spends his final days labouring over the manuscript of his novel, The Leopard, which he believes will be his lasting legacy.

Price was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2016 for the historical novel By GaslightHe lives in Victoria with his partner Esi Edugyan, a two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner.

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain is a short story collection by Zalika Reid-Benta. (House of Anansi Press)

Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being perennially caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Over a series of 12 stories, Davis visits her great aunt in Jamaica, endures a cruel prank by close friends and deals with her stubborn grandparents. 

Frying Plantain is Zalika Reid-Benta's debut book. The Toronto author was named a writer to watch by CBC Books in 2019.

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Ian Williams is the author of Reproduction. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

Reproduction is about Felicia and her teenage son Army. After they move into a basement apartment, they bond with the house's owner and his two children. But strange gifts from Army's wealthy, absent father begin to arrive at their doorstep, inviting new tensions into the makeshift family's lives. 

Reproduction is Ian Williams debut novel. The Toronto writer has previously been shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize for the book Personals and won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for his short story collection Not Anyone's Anything.

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