14 books make longlist for $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize


A graphic novel and three debut novels have made the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Fourteen titles made the list in total. 

The $100,000 award annually recognizes the best in Canadian fiction.

Seth has made the longlist for his graphic novel Clyde Fans. This year marks the first time graphic novels are eligible for the prestigious literary award.

The debut novels on the list are All I Ask by Newfoundland’s Eva Crocker, Butter Honey Pig Bread by Nigerian-Canadian writer Francesca Ekwuyasi and Five Little Indians by Cree lawyer Michelle Good.

Two previous winners have made the longlist: Winnipeg’s David Bergen and Nova Scotia’s Lynn Coady.

Bergen is nominated for his short story collection Here the Dark. He won the Giller Prize in 2005 for his novel The Time in Between.

Coady is nominated in 2020 for her novel Watching You Without Me. She won the Giller Prize in 2013 for her short story collection Hellgoing.

2020 Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough is nominated for his short story collection Dominoes at the Crossroads. Kellough won the Griffin Poetry Prize for Magnetic Equator.

Two of the longlisted titles are not yet available to the public. Butter Honey Pig Bread is set to be published on Sept. 15 and Consent by Annabel Lyon will be published on Sept. 29.

Other writers to have made the 2020 longlist include Emma Donoghue, Emily St. John Mandel, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Gil Adamson, Shani Mootoo and Thomas King.

Here is the full 2020 longlist:

The longlist was chosen from the 118 titles that were submitted for consideration this year.

Mark Sakamoto, author of the Canada Readswinning memoir Forgiveness, is the jury chair. The five-person panel also includes Canadian novelists Eden Robinson, David Chariandy and Tom Rachman and British critic Claire Armitstead.

“We were determined to find the most powerful pieces of fiction published this year. And, despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, we experienced an embarrassment of riches. Exquisite prose has emerged from many parts of Canada and multiple walks of life; and we have filled our months with witty, intense and achingly beautiful stories,” the jury said in a statement. 

“We are proud of the collection of books that has emerged from our lengthy debates; and we believe that this longlist is but one clear reflection of the talent and global relevance of Canadian writers. To the nominees, we offer our sincere gratitude and our heartfelt congratulations.”

The shortlist will be announced on Oct. 5, 2020. The winner will be announced on Nov. 9, 2020.

Last year’s winner was Reproduction by Ian Williams.

Other past Giller Prize winners include Esi Edugyan for Washington BlackMichael Redhill for Bellevue SquareMargaret Atwood for Alias GraceMordecai Richler for Barney’s VersionAlice Munro for RunawayAndré Alexis for Fifteen Dogs and Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

Get to know the 2020 longlisted books below.

Ridgerunner is a novel by Canadian author Gil Adamson. (Jean-Luc Bertini, House of Anansi)

Ridgerunner is a novel about William Moreland, the notorious thief known as Ridgerunner, as he moves through the Rocky Mountains, determined to secure financial stability for his son. His son, Jack Boulton, is trapped in a life not of his own making. Semi-orphaned and under the care of a nun, Sister Beatrice, Jack has found himself in a secluded cabin in Alberta. Little does he know, his father is coming for him. 

Adamson is a writer and poet. Her first novel, The Outlander, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and was a Canada Reads finalist in 2009, when it was championed by Nicholas Campbell. She has published several volumes of poetry, including Primitive and Ashland

The Amazon first novel award, a Canada Reads finalist, a Globe & Mail book of the year… that’s just a fraction of the praise heaped upon Gil Adamson’s debut novel The Outlander. Great news for fans of that backwoods adventure thriller, the long-awaited follow-up has arrived. Ridgerunner has just been published by House of Anansi press and Gil Adamson joined our Gill Deacon for Here and Now’s Tuesday afternoon book club. 6:49

Here the Dark is a novel by David Bergen. (David Bergen, Biblioasis)

In Here the DarkDavid Bergen delivers short stories that interweave across space, exploring faith, loss and complex moral ambiguities. From Danang, Vietnam, to Honduras and the Canadian Prairies, the book collects narratives about place and heart. 

Bergen is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. In 2005, his novel The Time in Between won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His other books include The Matter with Morris, and Stranger in 2016. His novel The Age of Hope was defended by Ron MacLean on Canada Reads in 2013.

David Bergen, author of “Leaving Tomorrow”, answers the Proust Questionnaire 5:35

Lynn Coady is the author of Watching You Without Me. (House of Anansi Press)

In Watching You Without Me, the death of her mother sends Karen home to Nova Scotia. Her elder sister Kelli, born with a developmental disability, requires full-time care. Karen is quickly overwhelmed, regretting the distance she’d always put between herself and her family. She gratefully accepts help from Trevor, a support worker, who was close with her mother. Gradually, though, Trevor’s true nature is revealed.

Coady is a short story writer and novelist originally from Nova Scotia. Her other books include the novels Strange HeavenSaints of Big HarbourMean Boy and The Antagonist, and the short story collection Hellgoing.

Lynn Coady talks to Shelagh Rogers about her new novel, Watching you Without Me. 17:07

All I Ask is a novel by Eva Crocker. (House of Anansi Press, Steve Crocker)

One morning, Stacey wakes up to the police pounding on her door in All I Ask. They claim they are looking for “illegal digital material” and seize her phone and computer. Worried for her safety, Stacey bands together with her friends to seek a way to an authentic, unencumbered way of life. 

Crocker is a novelist and short story writer from Newfoundland. Her first book was the short story collection Barrelling ForwardCBC Books named Crocker a writer to watch in 2020.

The Pull of the Stars is a novel by Emma Donoghue. (Punch Photographic, HarperCollins Canada)

The Pull of the Stars, set in a war and disease-ravaged Ireland during the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, tells the story of three women — a nurse, a doctor and a volunteer helper — working on the front lines of the pandemic in an understaffed maternity ward of a hospital, where expectant mothers infected with the virus are quarantined. The timely tale explores how these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways, while witnessing loss and delivering new life.

Donoghue is an Irish-Canadian writer. Her books include the novels LandingRoomFrog MusicThe Wonder and the children’s book The Lotterys Plus One.

Emma Donoghue can’t predict the future, but her latest novel is disturbingly prescient. Set in 1918 Ireland, The Pull of the Stars follows three health-care workers at the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic. The award-winning author joined Tom Power to talk about publishing the book during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how she stays grounded in a world beset by uncertainty. 18:37

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel by Francesca Ekwuyasi  (Monica Phung, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize. Butter Honey Pig Bread is her first book.

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. (Kent Wong, Harper Perennial)

In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Good is a Cree writer and lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Five Little Indians is her first book. CBC Books named Good a writer to watch in 2020.

Michelle Good on her debut novel Five Little Indians, which follows five characters after they leave residential school. 3:44

Dominoes at the Crossroads is a novel by Kaie Kellough. (Pablo Riquelme, Esplanade Books)

In this collection of stories, Dominoes at the CrossroadsKaie Kellough navigates Canada’s Caribbean diaspora, as they seek music and a connection to their past. Through a broad cast of characters — including jazz musicians, hitchhikers, suburbanites, student radicals, secret agents, historians and their fugitive slave ancestors — Kellough stretches the stories from Montreal’s Old Port to as far as the South American rainforests. 

Kellough is a writer based in Montreal. His novel Accordéon was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2017. He is also the author of the poetry collection Magnetic Equatorwhich won the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Kaie Kellough is an award-winning Canadian poet and novelist. As of this week, he’s also one of the winners of the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. Kellough joined Tom Power over Zoom from his home in Montreal to talk about his winning collection of poetry, Magnetic Equator, and what it means to write about a home you’ve been separated from. 8:08

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King. (Trina Koster, HarperCollins Publishers)

Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi, who decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi’s long-lost Uncle Leroy, who sent them while on his own European adventure almost 100 years ago.

King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

If ever there was a time for armchair travel… that time is now. Acclaimed Canadian author Thomas King takes us on a trip in his new book called Indians on Vacation. 7:40

Consent is a book by Annabel Lyon. (Random House Canada, Phillip Chin)

In Consent, Sara becomes her intellectually disabled sister Mattie’s caregiver after their mother dies. But when Sara returns home, she surprisingly finds Mattie married to her mother’s handyman, Robert. Sara gets the marriage annulled, driving a wedge between herself and Mattie. When Robert re-enters their lives, Sara and Mattie get entangled with him and another set of sisters, twins Saskia and Jenny.

Lyon is a writer from Vancouver. Her novel The Golden Mean won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. Her other books include the short story collection Oxygen, the novella collection The Best Thing for You and the young adult novels All-Season Edie and Encore Edie.

Polar Vortex is a novel by Shani Mootoo. (Ramesh Pooran, Book*hug Press)

Abandoning the city for the picturesque countryside, Priya and Alexandra attempt to give themselves a new lease on life in the novel Polar Vortex. That is, until Priya reveals that she is running from a fraught relationship with a friend who kept pursuing her: Prakash. After Priya feels safe enough to once again establish an online presence, Prakash communicates with her. Inexplicably, Priya asks Prakash to visit them. 

Mootoo is a writer and visual artist who has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her debut novel was 1997’s Cereus Blooms at Night.

Shani Mootoo on her new novel Polar Vortex, about the secrets, lies and half-truths at the heart of a love triangle. 18:02

The Glass Hotel is a novel by Emily St. John Mandel. (HarperCollins, Sarah Shatz)

Emily St. John Mandel’s new book, The Glass Hotelinterweaves several complex narratives. Vincent is a bartender in a prestigious hotel on Vancouver Island. When the owner — Jonathan Alkaitis — passes Vincent his card, it becomes the beginning of their story together. Meanwhile, a hooded figure scrawls a cryptic note on a wall in the hotel, and a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis — Leon Prevant — sees the note and is shaken. Thirteen years later, Vincent disappears from a Neptune-Avramidis ship. 

Mandel is a New York-based Canadian writer. Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the 2015 Toronto Book Award. 

Emily St John Mandel on The Glass Hotel, her follow-up to her breakout novel Station Eleven. 16:03

Clyde Fans is a comic by Guelph, Ont. artist Seth. (David Briggs Photography, Drawn & Quarterly)

Seth’s Clyde Fans illustrates the quiet desperation of two brothers struggling to keep their family’s increasingly irrelevant business afloat. As homes adopt air conditioning, selling oscillating fans proves challenging — and less than fulfilling — for Simon Matchard, who struggles to shake off his dutiful brother’s criticism.

Seth, who hails from Guelph, Ont., has contributed to publications such as The New Yorker and New York Times Magazine. He has twice won the Doug Wright Award for best book.

Seth is a Canadian cartoonist who’s a legend in his field. Scholars study his work with the same gravity you’d give the Bible and his first graphic novel, It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, was so influential that the Tragically Hip named a song after it. Following the release of his new comic Clyde Fans, he describes what it was like being on the leading edge of the graphic novel movement. 22:36

How to Pronounce Knife is a novel by Souvankham Thammavongsa. (Sarah Bodri, McClelland & Stewart)

How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of idiosyncratic and diverse stories, from a young man painting nails in a salon, to a housewife learning English from soap-operas. Capturing the daily lives of immigrants, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures their hopes, disappointments, trauma and acts of defiance.

Thammavongsa is a writer and poet. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper’sGrantaThe Paris Review and NOON. She has published four books of poetry, including 2019’s ClusterCBC Books named Thammavongsa a writer to watch in 2020.

Our books columnist Jael Richardson is back with a new recommendation for something to read while in self-isolation. Her pick is Souvankham Thammavongsa’s collection of short stories, How to Pronounce Knife. 7:33

Read more at CBC.ca