October 5, 2010

Musings on the 2010 Giller Shortlist

Well, it's that time of year again. The 2010 Giller Prize shortlist was announced today, and so now I will attempt to read my way through the shortlist before the prize is announced on November 9. The only thing is, this year, I don't know if it will be possible.

I headed out to the local bookstore after work today, armed with a list of the books on the shortlist. But I could only find copies of two of the five books on the list! I suspect that in this case, it is because the books on the list aren't terribly well known, and thus weren't stocked by the local store.

The list is as follows:
The Matter with Morris (David Bergen)
Light Lifting (Alexander McLeod)
This Cake is for the Party (Sarah Selecky)
The Sentimentalists (Johanna Skibsrud)
Annabel (Kathleen Winter)

Of the five books, I not only haven't read any of them, but had only heard of one of them before the longlist was announced a few weeks ago (B. Kienapple reviewed Annabel back in the summer with a mixed opinion). And after only being able to find 2 in my local bookstore (The Matter with Morris and Annabel), I had to split my online order between 2 sites in order to find copies of the other three. What the?!?!?!? Two of them should arrive in time for me to finish them by my self-imposed deadline; but Chapters.Indigo tells me that Light Lifting may not arrive until mid-November.

There were also a couple of books that I have read in the past year that I was a bit surprised not to see on the list, notably Room by Emma Donoghue, and Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor. However, given the propensity of book awards to list controversial books, I was glad to see that Girl Crazy by Russell Smith did not make the list!

So I guess the bottom line is that I don't know what to think about this year's list. I will read my way through the list though, and decide what I think for myself. In the past, I have generally enjoyed the Giller winners (generally much more so than the GG winner); however last year the format changed and the push was made towards non-Canadian jurors, and I haven't necessarily enjoyed the shortlisted books (notably The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon last year). It almost seems as though the flavour of the award has changed. But I really shouldn't pass judgement until I have read all of the books on the list (if they ever arrive).

Ready... Set... Read!

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