Zalika Reid-Benta, Megan Gail Coles & Joshua Whitehead among 5 writers to jury 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize

They are joined by Malaysian writer Tash Aw and American writer Joshua Ferris to judge the $100,000 prize, the biggest in Canadian fiction.
The 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury, from left: Tash Aw, Megan Gail Coles, Joshua Ferris, Zalika Reid-Benta and Joshua Whitehead. (Submitted by the Scotiabank Giller Prize)

The Scotiabank Giller Prize has announced the jury for the 2021 prize.

Canadian writer Zalika Reid-Benta will chair the five-person panel. Joining her are Canadian writers Megan Gail Coles and Joshua Whitehead, Malaysian writer Tash Aw and American writer Joshua Ferris.

Reid-Benta is a writer from Toronto. She explores race, identity and culture through the lens of second-generation Caribbean Canadians in her work. The Columbia MFA graduate's first book, Frying Plantainis a series of interconnected stories featuring a young black female protagonist in a Toronto neighbourhood. Frying Plantain was longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Coles is a playwright and fiction writer from Newfoundland. She is the author of the short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, and the novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun ClubSmall Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was a finalist for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was championed by Alayna Fender on Canada Reads 2020. Coles currently resides in Montreal, where she is a PhD candidate at Concordia University.

Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. His work seeks to centre the unique experiences of queer Indigenous young people. He is the author of the experimental poetry collection, full-metal indigiqueer and the novel Jonny Appleseed and is the editor of the Indigenous anthology Love After the EndJonny Appleseed won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction and was shortlisted for the the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. It will be championed on Canada Reads 2021 by Devery Jacobs.

Aw is a Malaysian novelist who now lives in London. He is the author of the novels The Harmony Silk Factory, Map of the Invisible World, Five Star Billionaire and We, the Survivors. The Harmony Silk Factory won the Whitbread First Novel Award. He has been longlisted for the Booker Prize twice, and his short fiction has won the O. Henry Prize.

Ferris is an American writer who lives in New York. He is the author of the novels Then We Came to the EndThe Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and the short story collection The Dinner PartyTo Rise Again at a Decent Hour won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Submissions for the prize are currently open. Books in English written by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident published between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021 are eligible.

The longlist will be announced in September, with the shortlist to follow later in the fall. The winner will be announced in November. 

Last year's winner was Souvankham Thammavongsa for her short story collection How to Pronounce Knife.

Other past winners include Esi Edugyan for novel Washington BlackMichael Redhill for Bellevue Square, Margaret Atwood for Alias Grace, Mordecai Richler for Barney's Version, Alice Munro for Runaway, André Alexis for Fifteen Dogs and Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

For the first time, the Scotiabank Giller Prize is presenting a book club, highlighting the 2020 longlisted titles. A series of events are scheduled, each featuring a different longlisted author, from January until September, wrapping just before the 2021 longlist is revealed.

Fun, ferocious moments at centre of Giller Prize-winning book

3 years ago
Duration 9:16
Giller Prize winner Souvankham Thammavongsa says she wanted to have fun again while writing and that her short story collection is 'built out' from her many years of writing poetry.  

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