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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Angelique Lalonde

According to the Giller Prize jury, “Menopausal gods, procreating droids and boys born as foxes are only a modest few of the glorious frazzled beings that populate Angelique Lalonde’s astonishing story collection. Many of the ever-present concerns of the contemporary world—ecology, capital, conservation, gender fluidity, addiction, inequality, indigenous displacement, and the eternal limits of human perspective—find in Lalonde a beguiling literary voice equal to the age, pushing not only at the boundaries of literature but at those of articulation and being. Lalonde gravitates here to the fable and the fairy tale, familiar and estranging in equal measure, to claw at the divide between our world and others—the animal, the alien—while inevitably falling back on, and forgiving, the ever-flawed human being.”

ANGÉLIQUE LALONDE was the recipient of the 2019 Journey Prize, has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, and was awarded an Emerging Writer’s residency at the Banff Centre. Her work has been published in numerous journals and magazines. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Victoria. Lalonde is the second-eldest of four daughters. She dwells on Gitxsan Territory in Northern British Columbia with her partner, two small chil …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

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The Giller Prize jury states, “It is a delightful gift to find a book you feel fortunate to have read, akin to discovering a treasure. That is the case with The Son of the House. The novel explores issues of patriarchy and classism, themes of friendship and loss through the lenses of two very different yet unexpectedly connected women in Nigeria. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia writes a modern novel with fairytale elements and prose that punches you in the gut, leaving you wonderfully stunned by the time the book is finished.”

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic, and writer. She holds a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University and works in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children. Cheluchi divides her time between Lagos and Halifax.

Don't miss your chance to win one of three copies of THE SON OF THE HOUSE on our giveaways page*

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What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a finalist for this year’s Giller Prize?

After I had been overcome, blown over, and it had begun to sink a bit, I tried to go back to work, to an assignment I had been working on. But I found I couldn’t focus, so I gave myself permission to take the rest of the day off, not a very usual occurrence!

The Son of the House tells the stor …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Omar El Akkad

The Giller Prize jury writes, “Amid all the anger and confusion surrounding the global refugee crisis, Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise paints a portrait of displacement and belonging that is at once unflinching and tender. In examining the confluence of war, migration and a sense of settlement, it raises questions of indifference and powerlessness and, ultimately, offers clues as to how we might reach out empathetically in a divided world.”

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. His debut novel, American War, was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a finalist for this year’s Giller Prize?

I know this isn’t a particularly interesting answer, but I just sat there for a while, in my writing room, alone. I was cognizant that I may never experience a moment like this again in my career, and I wanted to stay in it a while. Then the phone started beeping with all kinds of notifications, and it was back to the real world.

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Jordan Tannahill

*Don't miss your chance to win one of three copies of The Listeners on our giveaways page*

The 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury says,

"The Listeners is at once a revery for the sublime, for the innocuous tapestry of sounds that make up the rhythms of our lives—and the pollution of sounds that can tear and devour. It is at once a masterful interrogation of the body, as well as the desperate violence that undergirds our lives in the era of social media, conspiracies, isolation, and environmental degradation. Tannahill writes as both poet and playwright, millennial and philosopher, as one who trains his reader to attune to the frequency of ‘the Hum’ to experience a rich hinterland beyond our embodied senses, beyond our perceptions of grace or faith. I leave listening, even to the silences, which are always screaming, and posit myself in my cochlea, forever now a conch, flaring and reeling, primordially."

JORDAN TANNAHILL is an internationally acclaimed playwright who was born in Ottawa and is currently based in London (UK). Two of his plays have won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. He has written one previous novel, Liminal, which was published to much acclaim and named one of the best Canadian novels of 2018 by CBC Books. CBC Arts named him as …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Emily St. John Mandel

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We continue our special 2020 Giller Prize coverage in conversation with Emily St. John Mandel. She’s a 2020 Scotiabank Giller finalist for her novel The Glass Hotel.

Jury citation:

“A boldly lyrical tale echoing the deceit and ruin of the 2008 financial crisis, The Glass Hotel brings together two restless siblings and a multi-billion-dollar investor as they each negotiate ambition, secrets, and loss within the kingdom of money. Bridging the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the shops and towers of Manhattan, and the netherworld of open waters, the novel commands a broad array of characters and a plot of kaleidoscopic intricacy. Here, in her eagerly anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel turns her gifted attention to the mirages of now, and to the truth that we are haunted, always, by the lives of others.”

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award; won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Toronto Book Award and the Morning News Tournament of Books; and has been translated into 31 languages. A previous novel, The Singer’s Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystère de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and es …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Souvankham Thammavongsa

STHAMMAVONGSA author photo by Sarah Bodri

We continue our Giller Prize coverage of The Chat in conversation with Souvankham Thammavongsa. She’s on this year’s shortlist for her debut short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife.

Jury citation:

"The Scotiabank Giller Prize introduced me to Souvankham Thammavongsa’s work. I could not be more grateful. How to Pronounce Knife is a stunning collection of stories that portray the immigrant experience in achingly beautiful prose. The emotional expanse chronicled in this collection is truly remarkable. These stories are vessels of hope, of hurt, of rejection, of loss and of finding one’s footing in a new and strange land. Thammavongsa’s fiction cuts to the core of the immigrant reality like a knife—however you pronounce it.”

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four poetry books: Light, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found; Small Arguments, winner of the ReLit Award; and, most recently, Cluster. Her fiction has appeared in Harper’s, Granta, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Non-Required Reading, The Journey Prize Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. How to Pronounce Knife is her debut book of fiction, and the title story was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Born in the Lao refuge …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with Gil Adamson

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Next on our special Giller Prize coverage of The Chat, we speak with Gil Adamson. She’s a finalist for her second novel, Ridgerunner.

Jury citation:

“The long-awaited sequel to Gil Adamson’s hit The Outlander moves the action forward a decade, returning the 13-year-old son of the original protagonists to a forested land into which prisoners of the first world war are now hewing roads. The proximity of this new type of outlaw presents an existential threat to young Jack, who takes refuge in his parents’ abandoned shack with a price on his head after escaping the toxic hypocrisies of ‘civilization.’ Drawing richly on both the Western and on gothic fiction, Adamson evokes a mythic landscape to frame the question: how is it possible to live a good life, when obedience to man-made laws is so at odds with love, loyalty and respect for the natural world?”

Gil Adamson is the critically acclaimed author of The Outlander, which won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the ReLit Award, and the Drummer General’s Award. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, CBC Canada Reads, and the Prix Femina in France; longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and chosen as …

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Giller Prize 2020 Special: The Chat with David Bergen

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We’re thrilled to begin this year’s special Scotiabank Giller Prize coverage in conversation with David Bergen. David appears on this year’s shortlist for his short story collection Here the Dark (Biblioasis).

Jury citation:

"A dying woman asks an aging rancher to become her last lover. A fishing boat sputters to a halt off the coast of Honduras, compelling its owner to decide the fate of his repellent client. A young woman in a puritanical religious community glimpses the coloured world outside, and must choose whether to close her eyes, or to run. Sexual loneliness and moral confusion pull at the delicately wrought characters in David Bergen’s latest work, a story collection of masterly skill and tension. His third appearance on the Giller shortlist—including the 2005 winner, The Time in Between—affirms Bergen among Canada’s most powerful writers. His pages light up; all around falls into darkness.”

David Bergen has published eight novels and a collection of short stories. His work has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Impac Dublin Literary Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He won the Giller Prize for his novel The Time in Between. In 2018, he was given the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Lif …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Steven Price

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We continue our Scotiabank Giller Prize special coverage in conversation with Steven Price, author of the novel Lampedusa. See also our chats with finalists Michael Crummey (The Innocents), Megan Gail Coles (Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club), Ian Williams (Reproduction), and Alix Ohlin (Dual Citizens).

According to the Giller Prize jury, “Lampedusa is a fairy tale about a dying prince, the last of his line, the real-life Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the beloved Italian novel The Leopard. Steven Price powerfully imagines Tomasi’s final days as the ailing author struggles to complete and publish his treasured manuscript. Set in a post-war Palermo of bombed-out buildings and ruined palazzos, the novel contemplates what values are worth retaining in life and in art. A masterful storyteller, Price conjures Tomasi with language and images that evocatively fix him and his distant world indelibly in our minds.”

Steven Price is the author of two novels, By Gaslight (2016), longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Into That Darkness (2011). Also an acclaimed poet, he has written two award-winning poetry books, Anatomy of Keys (2006), winner of the Gerald Lampert Award, and Omens in the Year of the Ox (2012), winner of the ReLit Award. H …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat with Alix Ohlin

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Our 2019 special Giller Prize edition of The Chat begins with our conversation with Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens.

The Giller Prize jury praises the novel:

“Chronicling the wayward trajectories of two very different but equally fascinating Montreal-bred sisters from childhood into midlife, Alix Ohlin’s novel, true to its title, quietly refutes monolithic tenets that regard identity as something fixed and singular. Dividing its narrative between Canada and the U.S., the urban and the wild, solitude and solidarity, creativity and caregiving, Dual Citizens is a long-term sororal love story and affecting double-portrait of female self-actualization untethered from established paradigms of ambition.”


Alix Ohlin is the author of four books, including the novel Inside, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and many other publications. Born and raised in Montreal, she lives in Vancouver, where she chairs the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia.

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THE CHAT WITH ALIX OHLIN

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The Chat with Michael Crummey

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Michael Crummey was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel The Innocents, a haunting story of two siblings orphaned in a remote cove in Newfoundland.

Kirkus Reviews calls The Innocents “An unusual, gripping period novel from a much-honored Canadian writer.” The Toronto Star says, “its beauty is restrained, weighted and often heartbreaking.”

Michael Crummey is the author of a memoir, Newfoundland: Journey into a Lost Nation; three books of poetry including Arguments with Gravity, winner of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Poetry; and a book of short stories, Flesh & Blood. His first novel, River Thieves was a finalist for the 2001 Scotiabank Giller Prize; and his second novel, The Wreckage, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His most recent novel, Sweetland, was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. He lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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THE CHAT WITH MICHAEL CRUMMEY

Trevor Corkum: The Innocents is a dark and richly imagined story of a brother and sister living alone in a secluded cove in historical Newfoun …

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Giller Prize 2018 Special Series: The Chat with Éric Dupont

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Our next instalment of this year’s Giller special features our chat with Éric Dupont, author of Songs for the Cold of Heart (QC Fiction/Baraka Books), which was translated by Peter McCambridge.

The 2018 Giller Prize Jury says:

“Once upon a time in Quebec there was a girl named Madeleine. A tiny red headed waif with only a suitcase in her possession steps off a train in a frozen village, and a strapping Quebec man falls head over heels in love with her strangeness. A baby is born from this union that is so big, it manages to kill both its parents in childbirth. As magnificent a work of irony and magic as the boldest works of Gabriel García Márquez, but with a wholly original sensibility that captures the marvellous obsessions of the Quebecois zeitgeist of the twentieth century. It is without any doubt, a tour de force. And the translation is as exquisite as a snowflake.”

Born in 1970, Éric Dupont lives and works in Montreal. He has published four novels with Marchand de feuilles and in France with Éditions du Toucan and Éditions J’ai lu (Flammarion). He is a past winner of Radio-Canada’s “Combat des livres” (the equivalent of the CBC’s Canada Reads contest), a finalist for the Prix littéraire France—Québec and the Prix des cinq continents, …

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