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 …
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.
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 …
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.
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.
"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 …
We’re so pleased to be partnering once again with our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize to profile this year’s three Canadian finalists in a special roundtable edition of The Chat. Don’t forget to enter our Griffin Prize contest giveaway for a chance to win a prize pack of all three of this year’s titles!
This 2021 shortlisted Canadian titles are:
The East Side of It All, by Joseph Dandurand (Nightwood Editions)
Joseph Dandurand is a storyteller, poet, playwright and member of Kwantlen First Nation located on the Fraser River about twenty minutes east of Vancouver. He resides there with his three children. Dandurand is the director of the Kwantlen Cultural Centre, artistic director of the Vancouver Poetry House, and author of three other books of poetry, I Want (2015), Hear and Foretell (2015), and SH:LAM (The Doctor) (2015). Dandurand was Vancouver Public Library’s 2019 Indigenous storyteller in residence.
The Dyzgraphxst, by Canisia Lubrin (McClelland & Stewart)
Canisia Lubrin is a writer, editor, and teacher published and anthologised int …
Last week, the winners of the 2020 Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards were announced. And now we're excited to share short pieces by finalist authors on the inspirations for their celebrated works and how they came to be born.
Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali
Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
Love from A to Z grew from many seeds—one of which was that I wasn’t seeing the kind of love story that was familiar to me and my family and friends. Muslim romantic storylines in popular culture tend to be focused on marriages arranged by parents (even if that’s not the romance in the story, the main character is often presented as grappling with the expectation of arranged marriages) and that wasn’t my experience, and isn’t an intrinsic part of Islam. Muslim cultures vary widely and so how relationships develop vary. I just wanted to tell a story familiar to me but that I wasn’t seeing on shelves: two Muslims meeting serendipitously and falling for each other.
The journey of two characters falling in love had to be dealt with justly (I felt) so I set out to tell two distinct stories. That meant mapping out two story-arcs, two character journeys, two worlds, and then I proceeded to envision these two tales as they would look fully realized, as tho …
Our final conversation in our special Giller Prize edition of The Chat is with finalist David Bezmozgis, author of the short story collection Immigrant City.
The Giller Prize jury says: “The heart barks like a dog,” writes David Bezmozgis in one of the short stories contained in Immigrant City, and the bark echoes down generations, interrupting the everyday, vibrating with nostalgia and lost memories. In this wise and assured collection, Bezmozgis has reimagined immigrant lives not simply as marked by displacement and discontinuity, but of immigration as a shared and binding experience that crosses the boundaries of race, nationality, occupation, class, politics and even past betrayals, to serve as a point of connection and compassion between Bezmozgis’s characters."
David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is the author of Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World, The Betrayers, and Immigrant City. He has been short listed three times for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, including for his latest short story collection, Immigrant City: Stories, and n …
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 …
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.
We’re thrilled to once again work in partnership with our friends at the Griffin Poetry Prize to bring you a special roundtable edition of The Chat with all three 2019 Canadian Griffin Prize finalists.
ry and reconfiguration; an extended meditation (one that moves at times directly, at others by a kind of philosophical osmosis) touching on the realms of history, politics, race and gender; an internal, consciously curated and interrogated dialogue that manages to create a space for all of these. Expansive, beautifully written, structurally compelling, and above all moving, The Blue Clerk is a book to be read (and re-read), not just for the pleasures of its language, but for the breadth of its vision, and the capaciousness of its thinking.”
We love literary prizes here at 49th Shelf, because of the way they cast light on some of the many incredible books published every year in Canada. The best kinds of literary awards seasons are the ones where all the shortlists are different, where the literary juries approach their tasks with different tastes and standards, and the result is lists of books you may not have read already, and which you'll love when you do. And just to broaden the selection, we'd like to remind you of some of the winners of literary prizes awarded earlier this year. There is so much literary goodness to go around.
Indianland, by Lesley Belleau
Winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award
About the book: Written from a female and Indigenous perspective, the poems in Indianland incorporate Anishinaabemowin throughout. Lesley Belleau explores rich themes of sexuality, birth, memory, and longing, as well as touchstone issues in Indigenous politics including Elijah Harper, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, forced sterilizations, and Kanesatake with immediacy and intimacy. This multiform collection moves from present day to first contact and back to the present, immersing us in images of blood, plants (milkweed, yarrow, cattails), and petroglyphs, and grounding the book in the belo …
In the final installment in in our Governor General Award special edition of The Chat, we speak to David Alexander Robertson and Julie Flett. Their book, When We Were Alone, won the 2017 Governor General's Award for Young People’s Literature (Illustration).
From the Peer Assessment Committee: “When We Were Alone is a poignant story of a dark and unforgettable part of Canadian history. David A. Robertson gently links the residential school experiences to a new generation with an enduring example of healing, love and understanding. Julie Flett’s simple but profound illustrations expertly complement the text and elevate this important story.”
David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominee, Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature winner), Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.