The Giller prize is Canada's literary award for those novels deemed worthy enough to be singled out as great. It's not as prodigious nor as auspicious as the Booker in England or the Pulitzer in the US, but it will garner much revenue for the winner as well as others on the short list. I'm not too keen on these awards, and the Giller has such a reputation of blatantly missing the most important books published in any given year that it has become a wonder in itself. This year's picks, it seems, has fallen into that old pattern.
The five novels on the short list are as follows:
(Mind you, I have not read any of these---I doubt I will)
THE DISAPPEARED by Kim Echlin. This is a romance story, and a travel guide on Cambodia 35 years ago. An odd mix, for sure, and one I'll pass on. Notice the word "romance" and not "love"---there's a difference.
THE FALL by Colin McAdam. This is a story of a private school where a loner is being picked on and falls in line with a popular kid and falls in love with his girlfriend whose name is Fall. Does this sound familiar? I wouldn't fall for this; I use to fall for novels like this, but I won't fall for this now. I might fall for something else, but I'll not fall for this.
THE GOLDEN MEAN by Annabel Lyon. This is a book about Aristotle---the Greek philosopher, not the Ari we all knew way back in the 60's. I'm not sure what the MEAN means, but I think this novel is a kind of a domestic, non-intellectual effort. I wonder what my philosophy professor would think. I'll pass.
THE WINTER VAULT by Anne Michaels. From what I can gather, this is not a story per se, but a meditation on progress and the cost of thereof. What progress? I missed that.
THE BISHOP'S MAN by Linden MacIntyre. Ominous title. I'm glad it's not the Bishop's Boy considering all that's happened lately in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Early reviews say that this novel is quite readable, and well written for the most part. There are references to it rambling, but most Cape Breton novels do that---I don't know what that is. I think this is quite mild in execution, and wonder why. It's as if Atlantic writers don't want to offend.
Just a note: I really think that since Alistair MacLeod (NO GREAT MISCHIEF) is one of the judges on the Giller panel, he championed MacIntyre's book. That's OK, I guess. We Maritimers pull together.
By the way, A. MacLeod's NO GREAT MISCHIEF was just named the number 1 Atlantic novel in over 100 listed. I reread it because I wondered if I had missed something when reading it years ago. No. I didn't miss anything. Overall, it's a good novel. MacLeod managed to bind a family's history together over a few generations, cementing their ties with Cape Breton and their Scottish clan. But this novel does ramble, and ramble it does.
Next: 60's novels