The winner of this year’s Giller Prize will be announced tonight, and I don’t want to let the moment slip by with committing at least some of my thoughts to paper. I’ve actually read all five of the shortlisted books, along with a handful from the longlist as well, but life has been busy enough that I haven’t had the chance to write up my reviews yet. In fact, I’ve probably got 15 or so backlogged reviews, which tends to feel a little suffocating. But enough of my whining…
This year’s shortlist was a bit of a disappointment for me. Both Going Home Again and The Crooked Maidnever really got off the ground in my opinion. There were some high points and memorable vignettes, but the final payoff in both novels seemed watery and insubstantial to me. Cataract City and Caught had fantastic and meaningful stories, but they both failed to impress me. For some reason, I was constantly jostled out of my reading groove. Often it was ideas that didn’t jibe with my reality (who uses Cataract City as a slang term for Niagara Falls, or smuggles marijuana into BC?). There was plenty to appreciate in both novels, but I obviously wasn’t on the same wavelength as the authors.
The one book that really grabbed my attention, though, is the book which seems to be garnering the most middling reviews from readers. Hellgoing, Lynn Coady’s latest collection of short stories, might well be the first collection I’ve read where every single story resonated with me. It’s definitely the book I’ll be rooting for tonight, but, considering my track record for the past few years, my preference likely signals the kiss of death – the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. In fact, my favourite book from the longlist, Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, didn’t even make it into the running. Assuming that last year’s pick of 419 is some indication of what the Giller committee is looking for in a winner, then my hands-down pick for the winner is Dennis Bock’s Going Home Again.
The ceremonies will air tonight on CBC at 9:00 EST, but the taped delay should mean that the winner will be all over the Twitterverse before the broadcast even begins. If you’ve read any of the books from this year’s shortlist, I’d love to hear your thoughts!