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Daily book biz round-up: Giller scandal edition

There’s a lot of outraged buzz in online book circles this morning about whether Scotiabank Giller Prize juror Ali Smith broke jury protocol and engaged in a form of literary insider trading by arranging for her U.K. agent, Tracy Bohan, to sign winner Johanna Skibsrud before the longlist was even announced. As Q&Q reported earlier this month, Bohan then went and brokered a healthy deal for U.K. and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) with William Heinemann editor Jason Arthur (who we’ve since learned is Bohan’s boyfriend). The question now is: did Smith inform her fellow jurors that she was involved in promoting one of the authors in contention?

  • Paul

    My word, nepotism and corruption in Canadian literary activities – who would have thought it possible?

  • John T

    I’m thinking this means we don’t have to feel bad for Skibsrud anymore.

  • Barry

    Uh, Paul, the supposed “corruption” you refer to would be on the part of Smith, Bohan, and/or Heinemann … none of whom are Canadian. Nice try at being an Internet bad-boy, but you might want to read more closely in the future.

  • angel guerra

    What Ali Smith did does not match what has been going on at Gaspereau. What a happy bunch of art house fools they have shown themselves to be. We don’t do it for the money, they claim. Does that mean they don’t take money from the Canada Council? Or that they give their books away for free or barter them for cherries and soda pop? The nagging question is this: Why did Gaspereau submit The Sentimentalist to the Giller in the first place–a prize that not only results in big sales but big money. Was this an act of contempt? I like these freeloaders who live off government handouts, produce “art”, and then accuse booksellers and critics of only wanting to make money. What Gaspereau has managed to do, in a very public way, is paint the small presses as incapable of managing success and are, in fact, contemptuous of success. I hope the Giller doesn’t feel this way. As for Gaspereau, they can now prove it really isn’t about the money and not submit future titles to the Giller. Go back to being illustrious and leave the dirty business of having authors read and appreciated by a wider audience to others. And to Susan Swan. How do you define conflict of interest. Don’t you have a special relationship with the publisher of one of the Giller nominees. Maybe Gaspereau can send the money they don’t want over to Thomas Allen?

  • Paul

    Barry says:”Uh, Paul, the supposed “corruption” you refer to would be on the part of Smith, Bohan, and/or Heinemann … none of whom are Canadian…you might want to read more closely in the future.”

    So might you, since I said “nepotism and corruption in Canadian literary activities”. Notice that the Scotiabank Giller Prize is a Canadian award. Even assuming Skibsrud had no knowledge of who referred the agent to her, it’s the Scotiabank Giller Prize organizers’ responsibility to oversee the jurors and ensure that conflicts of interest do not taint the award.

  • Barry

    Sorry, Paul, but you’re backtracking into dishonesty. You know perfectly well that your insinuation was that this is an example Canadian corruption and nepotism. Now, after seeing that you were caught misunderstanding, you’re taking the “guilt by association” route. (Not that there’s any REAL evidence of corruption or nepotism here, anyway.)

    But let’s be honest, your purpose wasn’t to smear the people involved — you were trying to suggest there is widespread corruption and nepotism in Canadian literary circles — a spurious claim, at best, and one that speaks mohMitterness than truth.

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