And they’re off: the fall award season begins

September 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Early September marks – for better or worse – the start of literary awards season, and the first indicators of the frenzy to come are already being noted.

Man_Booker_Prize_logoYesterday, the jury for the Man Booker Prize – which comprises chair Robert Macfarlane and jurors Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Natalie Haynes, Martha Kearney, and Stuart Kelly – released the shortlist for the 2013 award. The six books on the shortlist include two by Canadians: Eleanor Catton’s sophomore novel The Luminaries, and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. The other nominees are NoViolet Bulawayo for her debut novel We Need New Names, Jim Crace for The Harvest, Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland, and Colm Tóibín for The Testament of Mary.

The official Man Booker announcement calls the shortlist “the most diverse in recent memory,” and there is some validity to this. Catton, the youngest nominee in the history of the prize, was born in London, Ontario, and lives in New Zealand. American-born Ozeki resides in British Columbia. Bulawayo is the first shortlisted author from Zimbabwe. Only two of the authors – Crace and Tóibín – have been nominated for the prize previously. The longest book on the list (Catton’s) is 848 pages; at 104 pages, the shortest (Tóibín’s) is virtually a novella. Catton’s novel is set in 1866 New Zealand; Bulawayo’s in contemporary Zimbabwe; and Tóibín’s in biblical times.

Calling the list “fiendishly difficult to categorise,” the official announcement continues:

It is clear that the perennial complaint that fiction is too safe and unadventurous is a ridiculous one; [the shortlist] shows that the novel remains a multi-faceted thing; that writing and inspiration knows no geographical borders; that diaspora tales are a powerful strand in imaginative thinking; and that human voices, in all their diversity, drive fiction.

Scotiabank_Giller_Prize_logoHere in Canada, some are thinking that the fall award season will amount to a showdown between two heavyweights: Catton, and Joseph Boyden, for his third novel, The Orenda. This will begin to come clear next Monday, when the Scotiabank Giller Prize unveils its longlist. This year marks the Giller’s 20th anniversary, and for the first time, the longlist is being unveiled outside Toronto, at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. (Lest anyone fret that Toronto’s status as the centre of the universe might be in jeopardy, the shortlist announcement and the gala dinner to crown the victor both take place here.)

This year, for the first time in the history of Canadian literary prizes (so far as I am aware), the Giller jury will appear in public to speak about the process of settling on the longlist. The event, called “Behind the Curtain,” will take place on October 7 at the Manulife Centre branch of Indigo Books and Music (located in – yes – Toronto). Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Radio’s Q, will interview this year’s Giller jurors, novelists Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan, and Jonathan Lethem. According to a press release, they will discuss “the longlist, the upcoming shortlist, and what’s it like to read close to 150 books to make their decisions.”

Because this event takes place before even the shortlist is announced, the jury will necessarily be curtailed in what they are able to say, but this is nevertheless an interesting development. It does not represent going behind the curtain, so much as cracking the curtain slightly to peer inside, but it does offer some small glimpse into a process that has historically been shrouded in secrecy. It’s not likely that any of this year’s jurors will go so far as former juror Victoria Glendinning, who took to print to declaim that most of the CanLit she read was frankly mediocre, but the discussion could prove to be an interesting one, depending upon how free the jurors feel to be honest.

Esi Edugyan wins 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize

November 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The literary prize juries are spreading the wealth around this year. As is probably common knowledge by now, two sophomore novelists – Esi Edugyan and Patrick DeWitt – have been competing head to head for the three most important prizes for fiction in this country: the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Governor General’s Literary Award. (They were both nominated for the Man Booker Prize as well: that award went to British novelist Julian Barnes.) Last week, DeWitt took home the Rogers Writers’ Trust award for his neo-Western, The Sisters Brothers. Yesterday, it was Edugyan’s turn at the podium.

Half-Blood Blues, a novel about jazz musicians in Paris and Berlin during the early years of the Second World War, won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The jury, composed of novelists Annabel Lyon, Howard Norman, and Andrew O’Hagan, selected the book from an uncommonly strong field of six titles, the other four of which were David Bezmozgis’s debut novel, The Free World; Lynn Coady’s fourth novel, The Antagonist; Zsuzsi Gartner’s sophomore story collection, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives; and Michael Ondaatje’s seventh novel, The Cat’s Table.

This year’s jury read a record 143 titles to come up with its shortlist of six, which was culled from a longlist of seventeen. The longlist included one title, Myrna Dey’s Extensions, selected by popular vote on the part of the general public. The jury ended up (correctly, in my opinion) ignoring the public choice and promoting a shortlist that ranks among the finest in Giller history. There wasn’t a dud title in the bunch: not a single book of which it could be said, “Yeah, that really doesn’t deserve to be there.”

Of the winning title, the jury had this to say:

Imagine Mozart were a black German trumpet player and Salieri a bassist, and 18th century Vienna were WWII Paris; that’s Esi Edugyan’s joyful lament, Half-Blood Blues.  It’s conventional to liken the prose in novels about jazz to the music itself, as though there could be no higher praise. In this case, say rather that any jazz musician would be happy to play the way Edugyan writes.  Her style is deceptively conversational and easy, but with the simultaneous exuberance and discipline of a true prodigy. Put this  book next to Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues” – these two works of art belong together.

The win marks the second time Thomas Allen Publishers was responsible for bringing out the victorious book, the first being Austin Clarke’s The Polished Hoe in 2002. The win for Thomas Allen, and in particular its publisher, Patrick Crean, is particularly sweet, since they were responsible for rescuing Half-Blood Blues from oblivion when its original Canadian publisher, Key Porter Books, ceased operations at the beginning of the year. This year was also remarkable for being the second year in a row in which the country’s largest multinational, Random House of Canada, was completely shut out of the shortlist (Ondaatje is published by McClelland & Stewart, which is 25% owned by Random House). DeWitt and Coady are both published by House of Anansi Press; Bezmozgis is published by HarperCollins Canada.

Edugyan takes home the $50,000 grand prize, and each of the other shortlisted authors take home $5,000. One note: this does not, as some sources would have it, make the Giller the most lucrative literary prize in Canada. The Griffin Poetry Prize awards two separate purses (one Canadian, one international) of $65,000 apiece, and the newly minted Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-fiction is worth $60,000 to the winner, as well as $5,000 apiece to the other shortlisted authors. Not that anyone’s counting.

The medium and the message

October 18, 2011 by · 7 Comments 

The Sisters Brothers. Patrick DeWitt; $22.95 paper 978-1-77089-032-9, 336 pp., House of Anansi Press

Half-Blood Blues. Esi Edugyan; $24.95 paper 978-0-88762-741-5, 312 pp., Thomas Allen Publishers

In her essay, “Writer, Reader, Words,” Jeanette Winterson argues that literature is necessarily sui generis, incapable of being replicated in any other medium. Any work of literature that aspires to the status of art, Winterson writes, “can only be itself, it can never substitute for anything else. Nor can anything else substitute for it.” On the other side of the equation, “Readers who don’t like books that are not printed television, fast on thrills and feeling, soft on the brain, are not criticizing literature, they are missing it altogether.”

Our 21st-century culture, so besotted with the primacy of the image, with pictures and screens and video games, tends to privilege books that are “printed television”: fast-paced and easily digestible, strong on narrative, peopled by clearly defined, frequently unambiguous characters. Scenes that are cut sharply and edited tightly, and plots that propel themselves forward through readily discernible stages of beginning, middle, and end. Readers and, increasingly, award juries are gravitating ever more frequently toward books that eschew specifically literary techniques in favour of those that resemble, in design and execution, movies on paper. Two of this year’s most lauded books evince this tendency.

It’s no accident that Patrick DeWitt’s second novel, The Sisters Brothers, was optioned for film even before it appeared on bookstore shelves. The story – about two hired guns, Eli and Charlie Sisters, who travel from Oregon City to California during the Gold Rush to kill a prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm – comes virtually pre-packaged for the big screen. The wide-open expanses of Western landscape the Sisters brothers traverse, juxtaposed with the chaotic industrial sprawl they discover in San Fransisco, is almost defiantly cinematic, calling to mind the sumptuous cinematography in John Ford’s The Searchers or Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. In its focus on a trio of men who travel cross country to kill a pair of rustlers who have assaulted a prostitute, Eastwood’s film also provides an antecedent for the plot trajectory of DeWitt’s novel, though DeWitt’s story is more insistently comic than David Webb Peoples’ rather downbeat screenplay.

The dialogue, too, crackles and pops with the rhythms and cadence of spoken speech – hardly surprising given that DeWitt is also a screenwriter. The exchanges between his characters practically cry out to be declaimed aloud:

“Make me an offer on the black horse,” I said.

“Twenty-five dollars.”

“He is worth fifty dollars.”

“Thirty dollars with the saddle.”

“Don’t be ignorant. I will take forty, without the saddle.”

“I will give you thirty-five dollars.”

“Thirty-five dollars without the saddle?”

“Thirty-five, without the saddle, minus a dollar for the shoes.”

“You expect me to pay for shoes on a horse I’m not keeping?”

“You asked me to shoe him. Now, you must pay for the service.”

“You would have shoed him anyway.”

“That is neither up nor down.”

“Thirty-four dollars,” I said.

The stable hand’s rejoinder, “That is neither up nor down,” is particularly sharp, and elicits an easy laugh from the reader.

DeWitt unfolds his story in short, dramatic scenes that are packed to bursting with incident. Eli, the more sensitive of the two brothers, watches helplessly as his beloved horse, Tub, gets mauled by a grizzly bear, an injury that will cost the horse one of its eyes. The sequence in which the eye is removed is especially potent in its gruesome comedy: it feels tailor-made for adaptation by filmmakers with the off-kilter sensibility of the Coen Brothers. A set-piece involving a gunfight between the Sisters brothers and two trappers in the town of Mayfield is similarly forceful and exciting, and feels similarly cinema-ready.

There is a good deal of emotion in the novel, particularly where Eli Sisters is concerned. Charlie, the tougher of the two, is a drunkard and a fairly obvious psychopath, but Eli, who narrates the novel, is articulate and thoughtful, frequently given to self-doubt and uncertainty. There is a lovely sequence of scenes in which Eli appalls his brother by ordering small portions and healthy foods at mealtimes because he is trying to lose weight to appear more sexually appealing to a woman he has come to fancy. Eli’s discovery of a magical tooth powder that helps freshen the breath is also charmingly effective. And there is a running joke about an anesthetic to deaden pain that the brothers appropriate from a dentist and employ on Eli’s wounded horse, as well as on each other (“A smart man could make use of this,” Charlie tells his brother).

DeWitt’s picaresque follows a conventional, chronological path. By contrast, Esi Edugyan’s second novel, Half-Blood Blues, shuttles back and forth in time to tell the story of a group of black jazz musicians who run afoul of the Nazis in the early years of the Second World War. Like The Sisters Brothers, Half-Blood Blues is heavy on incident and plot, with robust characters and (the focus on music notwithstanding) a strongly visual narrative.

However, Edugyan is generally more willing than DeWitt to allow herself recourse to passages that are more written, especially where jazz is concerned. It is notoriously difficult to capture the aural and emotional charge of music via the written word, but Eduygan manages to pull it off, for example in the following passage, which describes trumpet prodigy Hieronymous Falk jamming with jazz legend Louis Armstrong:

It was the sound of the gods, all that brass. It was the old Armstrong and the new, that mature distilled essence of a master and the boy he used to be, the boy who could make his glissandi snap like marbles, the high Cs piercing. Hiero thrown out note after shimmering note, like sunshine sliding all over the surface of a lake, and Armstrong was the water, all depth and thought, not one wasted note. Hiero, he just reaching out, seeking the shore; Armstrong stood there calling across to him. Their horns sound so naked, so blunt, you felt almost guilty listening to it, like you eavesdropping. After some minutes Chip stopped singing, left just the two golden ropes of sound to intertwine.

The metaphorical language here has a legitimate claim to being literary: the comparison of Hiero to sunlight and Armstrong to water is appropriate and evocative, as is the image of golden ropes of sound winding around one another.

Edugyan is also adept at fusing the cultural impact of jazz in prewar Europe with the rising tide of racial intolerance under the Nazis. Hiero is a German of African descent, a “half-breed,” and consequently, he is a symbol of racial impurity for the Nazis; where African-Americans are allowed passage out of Germany and occupied France, Hiero would be sent to a concentration camp if caught. In a stirring passage, Edugyan explicitly links the racial hatred experienced by blacks and Jews with the anarchic impulse that gave rise to the jazz movement in Germany:

Jazz. Here in Germany it became something worse than a virus. We was all of us damn fleas, us Negroes and Jews and low-life hoodlums, set on playing that vulgar racket, seducing sweet blond kids into corruption and sex. It wasn’t a music, it wasn’t a fad. It was a plague sent out by the dread black hordes, engineered by the Jews. Us Negroes, see, we was only half to blame – we just can’t help it. Savages just got a natural feel for filthy rhythms, no self-control to speak of. But the Jews, brother, now they cooked up this jungle music on purpose. All part of their master plan to weaken Aryan youth, corrupt its janes, dilute its bloodlines.

In Edugyan’s hands, the jazz musicians officially labelled “degenerate” by Joseph Goebbels become a force for resisting the Aryan ideology making insidious toeholds in the Europe of 1939 and 1940. This is powerful, provocative, and – not incidentally – political writing, a fictional repudiation of the extremes of Nazi intolerance and hatred more potent than most anything found in a straightforward history of the war.

And yet. The novel’s strongly literary passages are sprinkled like seasoning on a narrative that is fuelled by suspenseful scenes of the fugitive musicians hiding from the Nazi menace, venturing out fearfully, trying to avoid capture at every turn (including, in one tense sequence, a border crossing between Germany and France, during which the characters undergo interrogations from officials on both sides of the divide).

Told from the perspective of Sid Griffiths, a bass player who harbours acute feelings of professional jealousy for his more prodigiously talented – not to mention younger – bandmate, Hiero, the novel is propelled by feelings of guilt resulting from a wartime betrayal: although another member of the band, Chip, has already publicly accused Sid of complicity in the arrest of Hiero at the hands of Nazi soldiers in Paris, the true nature and extent of Sid’s betrayal is not revealed until the end of the novel.

Half-Blood Blues is in part an examination of artistic envy; Sid says of Hiero at one point, “It ain’t fair that I struggle and struggle to sound just second-rate, and the damn kid just wake up, spit through his horn, and it sing like nightingales.” The bitterness of Sid’s envy leads to the situation he and Hiero find themselves in at the opening of the book, in which they decide somewhat intemperately to venture out into the streets of occupied Paris, despite all the warnings to remain concealed. Even with the benefit of hindsight, once the novel has unfolded its entire plot and the context of the characters’ experiences has been made clear, this scene rings false.

It is, however, a dramatic opening to a novel that contains no shortage of drama. The vividness of its historical setting, the stakes facing its characters, and the scenes of danger and tension they must negotiate, are gripping, but here we return once again to the notion of the novel as printed cinema: it is no less difficult to picture Edugyan’s scenes unfolding on a movie screen than it is with DeWitt. Half-Blood Blues, like The Sisters Brothers, is propulsive, suspenseful, and entertaining, but it’s not clear that either novel could “never substitute for anything else,” to use Winterson’s phrase.

Let’s be clear: these are both solid, enjoyable books that could be given with confidence to any reader in search of a good story and engaging characters. But it’s also important to note that juries for no fewer than four major literary prizes – the Man Booker Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award, and the Governor General’s Literary Award – have deemed both books to be among the best works of fiction published this calendar year. In so doing, these juries are implicitly privileging cinematic narratives and visual sensibilities over more obviously and essentially literary works. Whether or not that is desirable depends on how strongly one agrees with Winterson’s assessment of what constitutes literary art.

New names, surprise inclusions mark Giller shortlist

October 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This year’s shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize – a pumped-up six books, whittled down from a pumped-up, seventeen-book longlist – is surprising both for what it includes and, arguably, for what it omits.

Two of the six finalists were, in my opinion, foregone conclusions going into yesterday morning’s announcement at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues have been receiving almost universal accolades, and have already found places on the Man Booker Prize shortlist and the Rogers Writers’ Trust shortlist. The only thing arguing against their inclusion on the Giller list would be the jury’s conscious attempt to strike out in another direction. Really, though, I don’t think anyone should have been surprised that those two made the cut.

The same certainly can’t be said for Zsuzsi Gartner’s collection of stories, Better Living through Plastic Explosives. (There were audible gasps in the room when the title was announced.) This is a second collection comprising a group of fictions that could best be described as dystopian satire: not the kind of thing that usually falls within Giller’s comfort zone. Its appearance on this year’s shortlist indicates strong support from the jury and a willingness to break out from the kind of kitchen-sink realism that tends to dominate CanLit awards lists. Love it or hate it (and readers have been divided: some adore the book, some quite definitively do not), it represents an unexpected, though not unwelcome, new direction for the Giller’s spotlight to point.

Lynn Coady was nominated for her fourth novel, The Antagonist (actually her fifth book, counting the short story collection Play the Monster Blind), which makes independent publisher House of Anansi Press the only house with multiple books on the list (they also publish DeWitt). The final two spaces were reserved for relatively better-known names – The New Yorker‘s “20 under 40” Canadian standard-bearer, David Bezmozgis, for his first novel, The Free World; and Michael Ondaatje, the only certified heavyweight on the list, for his sixth novel, The Cat’s Table.

What is notable about this list (besides the complete exclusion, for the second year running, of any titles from Random House of Canada or its imprints*) is the fact that the list is dominated by relatively reader-friendly, narrative driven books. Even the Ondaatje is by all accounts the author’s most accessible work in years. This is a trend with awards lists in 2011: from the Booker to the Writers’ Trust to the Giller, this year’s juries seem to prefer books with strong stories and an emphasis on character and setting over the kind of über-literary, stylistically challenging works that are often favourites for award consideration.

Perhaps as a corollary, a number of names that are familiar to Giller watchers failed to make the final six this year. Previous nominees Wayne Johnston, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and Marina Endicott didn’t make it past the longlist, and 2007 champ Elizabeth Hay didn’t even make it that far. This year’s jury is clearly unafraid to look beyond the usual suspects, extending what can only be hoped is a trend inaugurated by last year’s jury in its shortlist selections. (It should be noted that despite the iconoclastic shortlist, last year’s jury chose the most quintessentially CanLit title – Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists – as the eventual winner: this is a trend that hopefully won’t persist.)

The presence of Annabel Lyon on this year’s jury led me to hope that more than one short-story collection might make the final cut (I’m disappointed not to see Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden, which I quite liked, on the list, and I am left wondering exactly what Clark Blaise has to do to get some recognition in this country). Lyon is joined on this year’s jury by American novelist Howard Norman, Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagan, and thanks to a quirk in this year’s longlist selection process, the entire population of Canada.

The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced at a gala ceremony in Toronto on November 8.

*We’ll allow for the moment that McClelland & Stewart, which publishes Ondaatje, is not a de facto Random House imprint.

Welcome to fall, or, Literary Awardapolooza

September 6, 2011 by · 6 Comments 

So, how was everyone’s summer?

After a refreshing (and virtually unbroken) three-month hiatus, TSR can feel the crispness returning to the air, sense the leaves beginning to turn, and smell the woodsmoke that can only mean one thing: literary awards season is upon us.

I planned to return with a carefully constructed, thoughtful post on some esoteric yet fascinating subject – the importance of shoelaces in the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, perhaps. But, once again, life intrudes, this time in the form of three literary award lists dropping on the same fucking day. Haven’t these people learned anything from Hollywood? Marketing 101: you don’t open the new Transformers sequel opposite the new X-Men sequel. You stagger the openings to maximize exposure, and thus maximize box office returns, because when all is said and done, that’s what it all comes down to, right?

Right?

In any event, there are three literary awards to catch up with. Let’s start with the Scotiabank Giller Prize, which this morning unveiled a supersized longlist of seventeen books, the longest longlist in the history of Giller longlists (which, in case you’re keeping track, go back to 2006). And for the first time, the longlist contains a Readers’ Choice selection, voted on by the general public. The Readers’ Choice selection is Myrna Dey’s debut novel, Extensions. The other sixteen, jury-supported nominees are:

  • The Free World, David Bezmozgis
  • The Meagre Tarmac, Clark Blaise
  • The Antagonist, Lynn Coady
  • The Beggar’s Garden, Michael Christie
  • The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt
  • Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
  • The Little Shadows, Marina Endicott
  • Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, Zsuzsi Gartner
  • Solitaria, Genni Gunn
  • Into the Heart of the Country, Pauline Holdstock
  • A World Elsewhere, Wayne Johnston
  • The Return, Dany Laferrière, David Homel, trans.
  • Monoceros, Suzette Mayr
  • The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje
  • A Good Man, Guy Vanderhaeghe
  • Touch, Alexi Zentner

Now, if you read the National Post book section, you’ll know that this is the point at which I’m supposed to sprout hair, grow claws and fangs, and bark at the moon. But in all honesty, I can’t find a lot to complain about with this list. It’s a solid mix of established names and newcomers, it is geographically representative, and includes a good sampling of books from multinationals and indie presses. True, the default CanLit setting – the naturalistic, historical novel – is well represented (Endicott, Holdstock, Vanderhaeghe), but there are also examples of other styles and genres, including comic neo-Western (DeWitt), linked stories (Blaise), autobiography manqué (Laferrière, Ondaatje), and even – will wonders never cease? – satire (Gartner). I can’t even really complain about the Readers’ Choice nominee. It’s a first novel from a small press out in the prairies; sure, it tilts toward the kind of naturalism that has dominated Giller lists since their inception, but it’s not what you might call an intuitive popular choice. I still have problems with the concept of a Readers’ Choice element to selecting the Giller nominees (and no, Beverly, I am not fucking kidding), but if it has to exist, this is probably the best possible outcome.

As per usual, the Giller jury, made up this year of Canadian novelist (and erstwhile Giller nominee) Annabel Lyon, American novelist Howard Norman, and U.K. novelist Andrew O’Hagan, have rooked me by placing on the longlist only a single book I’ve already read, which means, as per usual, I have some catch-up to do. (I am pleased that the single book I’ve actually read, Michael Christie’s debut collection, is one I thoroughly enjoyed.) And I offer no guarantees that my sunny disposition will persist through the shortlist and eventual winner. But for now, I can applaud what appears to be a strong longlist of books in the running for Canada’s most lucrative and influential literary award.

As for the U.K.’s most lucrative award … It cheers me (on a flagrantly patriotic level) to announce that two of the authors longlisted for the Giller Prize – Patrick DeWitt and Esi Edugyan – have also made it onto the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize. (The third Canadian to appear on the Booker longlist, Alison Pick, did not make the final cut.) The remaining nominees for the £50,000 prize are:

  • The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie, Carol Birch
  • Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman
  • Snowdrops, A.D. Miller

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that Alan Hollinghurst, who won the prize in 2004 for his extraordinary novel The Line of Beauty, did not progress to the next stage with his new effort, The Stranger’s Child. (Hollinghurst can commiserate with David Gilmour and Miriam Toews, two notable Canadian authors whose most recent novels, The Perfect Order of Things and Irma Voth, failed to make the Giller longlist.)

Meanwhile, on the municipal front, the finalists for the Toronto Book Awards were also announced today. They include previous award winners James FitzGerald for his memoir What Disturbs the Blood (which won the Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction) and Rabindranath Maharaj for his novel The Amazing Absorbing Boy (which won the Trillium Book Award). The other nominees are:

  • Étienne’s Alphabet, James King
  • The Parabolist, Nicholas Ruddock
  • Fauna, Alissa York

Whew. I’m spent. When do the Governor General’s and Rogers Writers’ Trust nominees get announced?