The Giller.

7 Nov

I regret to say, that I have not had the chance to read any of the titles that made the Giller shortlist. Sadly, any reading that I do these days is work related. Nevertheless, I spent some time this afternoon reading the first few pages of each title on the Giller Prize Shortlist website in hopes that I could brush up on my Giller prowess. Scanning the summaries of each title, I was instantly drawn to The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. The thought of absorbing a literary western with a unique and ferocious spin made me foolishly grin from ear to ear. Without having read a single word, I was sold. Or so I thought. Keep in mind, I was only privy to the first few pages…but still, I must admit the introduction to the narrative left me, well, kind of cold. Perhaps the hype killed any chance of an organic approach to this book? Not to say that I will not give it a go. I will most definitely take another stab at this book. Perhaps I am spoiled when it comes to literary westerns? Two books come to mind: Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang and Michael Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid. If you have not read either, please make a point of doing so. Whatever my initial impressions are of deWitt’s book, the hype is very real. If I am to go solely on the buzz, I would say that he is a shoe in for the Giller this year. Looking at the other titles on the list, my next bet would be The Antagonist by Lynn Coady. After reading a mere three pages, I was ready to throw caution to the wind and rush out and purchase this book. I wish I had. Instead, I spent the afternoon daydreaming about all the possible outcomes for her protagonist, while I researched American editors for an up and coming submission. Moving on; another strong contender is Ms. Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues. Just like the reviews claim, her prose reads like jazz. And that is a literary feat in and of itself. I have added her title to my wish list, and I doubt I will be disappointed. After reading snippets from each author, I would be hard pressed to select an obvious winner. Well, that is not entirely true. If Mr. Ondaatje hadn’t already won a Giller (Anil’s Ghost), I would say that the obvious winner would be his beautifully crafted The Cat’s Table. With that being said, I doubt they will award him a second Giller when there are so many other fantastic titles up for the award. The last two titles, The Free World and Better Living through Plastic Explosives were not my cup of tea, but that does not mean that they are not worthy of the award and recognition that follows suit.Each and every title on this list holds merit, but in my biased opinion, I would absolutely love to see Ms. Coady or Ms. Edugyan come out in front. The Giller Light Bash is tomorrow evening, and so we do not have long before the winner will be revealed to us. With the Giller and the Canada Reads contest, this is truly an exciting time in the Canadian lit scene.


2 Responses to “The Giller.”

  1. literaryagent007 November 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    So thrilled that Ms. Edugyan won the Giller! I cannot wait to read Half-Blood Blues.

  2. James Reiss December 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Great to read that you like literary westerns. You mention Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje. Have you read two superb literary westerns, the first two novels by Ron Hansen: Desperadoes (1979) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (1983)? These books are faithful to history while being, sentence for sentence, richly detailed and riveting.

    B/t/w, I’ve enjoyed your blog, and I think you’re a topnotch literary agent.

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