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Giller Prize 2020 shortlist

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2020 at 3:51pm

The shortlist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize has been announced. The entire list is comprised of great Canadian books but we are especially thrilled to see a Winnipeg finalist make the cut: David Bergen for his newest collection of stories, Here The Dark.

Congratulations, David, and to all of the others who made the list!

The 2020 finalists include:

  • Gil Adamson, for her novel Ridgerunner (Anansi Press)
  • David Bergen, for his short story collection Here The Dark (Biblioasis)
  • Shani Mootoo, for her novel Polar Vortex (Book*hug Press)
  • Emily St. John Mandel, for her novel The Glass Hotel (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)
  • Souvankham Thammavongsa, for her short story collection How To Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada)

The winner will be announced on November 9, 2020, and you can celebrate with this year's virtual Giller Light Bash, with all proceeds going to Frontier College. For details on the Giller Light Bash, please see this website.

Categories: Awards, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Canadian Lit

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Ridgerunner

- by Gil Adamson

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Part literary Western and part historical mystery, Ridgerunner is the follow-up to Gil Adamson's award-winning and critically acclaimed novel The Outlander.November 1917. William Moreland is in mid-flight. After nearly twenty years, the notorious thief, known as the Ridgerunner, has returned. Moving through the Rocky Mountains and across the border to Montana, the solitary drifter, impoverished in means and aged beyond his years, is also a widower and a father. And he is determined to steal enough money to secure his son's future.Twelve-year-old Jack Boulton has been left in the care of Sister Beatrice, a formidable nun who keeps him in cloistered seclusion in her grand old house. Though he knows his father is coming for him, the boy longs to return to his family's cabin, deep in the woods. When Jack finally breaks free, he takes with him something the nun is determined to get back -- at any cost.Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson's follow-up to her award-winning debut, The Outlander, is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.

Here the Dark

- by David Bergen

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SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE o A NEW YORK TIMES NEW & NOTEWORTHY BOOK o A GLOBE AND MAIL TOP 100 BOOK FOR 2020 o A CBC BEST FICTION BOOK FOR 2020 o "His third appearance on the Giller shortlist ... affirms Bergen among Canada's most powerful writers. His pages light up; all around falls into darkness."--2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury o "David Bergen's command is breathtaking ... His work belongs to the world, and to all time. He is one of our living greats."--Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves From the streets of Danang, Vietnam, where a boy falls in with a young American missionary, to fishermen lost off the islands of Honduras, to the Canadian prairies, where a teenage boy's infatuation reveals his naiveté and an aging rancher finds himself smitten, the short stories in Here the Dark explore the spaces between doubt and belief, evil and good, obscurity and light. Following men and boys bewildered by their circumstances and swayed by desire, surprised by love and by their capacity for both tenderness and violence, and featuring a novella about a young woman who rejects the laws of her cloistered Mennonite community, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winner David Bergen's latest deftly renders complex moral ambiguities and asks what it means to be lost--and how we might be found.

Polar Vortex

- by Shani Mootoo

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Finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize Some secrets never die... Priya and Alexandra have moved from the city to a picturesque countryside town. What Alex doesn't know is that in moving, Priya is running from her past--from a fraught relationship with an old friend, Prakash, who pursued her for many years, both online and off. Time has passed, however, and Priya, confident that her ties to Prakash have been successfully severed, decides it's once more safe to establish an online presence. In no time, Prakash discovers Priya online and contacts her. Impulsively, inexplicably, Priya invites him to visit her and Alex in the country, without ever having come clean with Alex about their relationship--or its tumultuous end. Prakash's sudden arrival at their home reveals cracks in Priya and Alex's relationship and brings into question Priya's true intentions. Seductive and tension-filled, Polar Vortex is a story of secrets, deceptions, and revenge. It asks readers: Are we ever free from our pasts? Do we deserve to be?

The Glass Hotel

- by Emily St.john Mandel

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SHORTLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A Time Magazine Must Read Book of 2020
A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year

#1 national bestseller

New York Times bestseller

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.


Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it's the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later, Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

How to Pronounce Knife

- by S. Thammavongsa

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WINNER OF THE 2020 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, the PEN AMERICA OPEN BOOK AWARD, and the DANUTA GLEED AWARD
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Named one of Time Magazine's Must-Read Books of 2020, and featuring stories that have appeared in Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, this revelatory book of fiction from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. Told with compassion and wry humour, these stories honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world."


A young man painting nails at the local salon. A woman plucking feathers at a chicken processing plant. A father who packs furniture to move into homes he'll never afford. A housewife learning English from daytime soap operas. In her stunning Giller Prize-winning debut book of fiction, Souvankham Thammavongsa focuses on characters struggling to make a living, illuminating their hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance, and above all their pursuit of a place to belong. In spare, intimate prose charged with emotional power and a sly wit, she paints an indelible portrait of watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values. As one of Thammavongsa's characters says, "All we wanted was to live." And in these stories, they do--brightly, ferociously, unforgettably.

A daughter becomes an unwilling accomplice in her mother's growing infatuation with country singer Randy Travis. A former boxer finds a chance at redemption while working at his sister's nail salon. A school bus driver must grapple with how much he's willing to give up in order to belong. And in the title story, a young girl's unconditional love for her father transcends language.

Tender, uncompromising, and fiercely alive, How to Pronounce Knife establishes Souvankham Thammavongsa as one of the most important voices of her generation.