The Next Chapter

Eric Dupont recalls the moment he learned he was a Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist

The Montreal author's novel Songs for the Cold of Heart was up for the richest prize in Canadian literature in 2018.
Songs for the Cold of Heart is a novel by Eric Dupont, translated by Peter McCambridge. (Sarah Scott, QC Fiction)

This interview originally aired on Nov. 12, 2018.

Eric Dupont was one of five authors — the others being Esi Edugyan, Patrick deWitt, Thea Lim and Sheila Heti — nominated for the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2018.

The Montreal author of Songs for the Cold of Heartgathered with his fellow finalists on stage at Calgary's Wordfest for a special Scotiabank Giller Prize panel, hosted by The Next Chapter's Shelagh Rogers.

Edugyan won the 2018 prize for her novel Washington Black. But just being a finalist was enough to change Dupont's career.

The phone call that changed everything

"To learn I was on the shortlist was, in a word, thrilling. I'm still stunned. I initially found out about it by a phone call from my translator Peter McCambridge. I was sleeping at the time. I was wondering why he was calling me so early and why he was talking so fast given that he's a very soft-spoken person. And in the salad of words that he was belching out, I heard the word Giller — and that's how I found out!"

Why he writes

"I wrote Songs for the Cold of Heart because I come from a family of storytellers and I don't have my own children to tell stories to. When I was writing the book I was thinking a lot about my nieces and nephews. I have a story to tell and the need to play the role of the storyteller."

Eric Dupont's comments have been edited for length and clarity.​