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Ondaatje declines Governor General’s Literary Award consideration

Although there’s been much buzz over award newbies Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt’s impressive hat trick of nominations, another story unfolded today as Michael Ondaatje’s well-received The Cat’s Table was noticeably absent from this morning’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction shortlist.

According to his publisher, McClelland & Stewart, Ondaatje asked for The Cat’s Table, which is shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, to be withdrawn from consideration. The five-time GG winner released this statement through M&S: “This was done as I have received it many times and felt I should not enter a book again. The GG award has been very important to me and I greatly respect it and what it has done for our literature.”

Ondaatje isn’t the first CanLit veteran to bow out of an awards race. In 2009, Alice Munro withdrew from Giller consideration for her short story collection, Too Much Happiness, and both Munro and Margaret Atwood recused themselves the years they served on Giller juries. Two-time Giller nominee Timothy Findley asked that his 2001 novel, Spadework, not be considered “for any literary prizes.”

  • ol b

    With all respect to Ondaatje (and Munro and Atwood before him), this shouldn’t be allowed. The GG winner this year will be known as the winner in the year Ondaatje pulled out. Which is unfair to the winner. If he wants to give away the money, fine.

  • Czandra

    A writer who doesn’t need prizes ought to be allowed relief from the incessant competition the literary world has become. People who have served on juries know how specious the ranking can be sometimes.

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