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Public to vote on Giller longlist: UPDATED

This year, the Scotiabank Giller Prize is moving from CTV, its official broadcast partner for the past five years, to CBC. In conjunction with the move, the CBC has announced a new Readers’ Choice contest, which will allow the public to nominate one book for inclusion on the longlist, to be announced on Sept. 6.

The details of the new contest are up on the CBC website:

This year you can make a difference by nominating a book for the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Explore this year’s eligible books and let us know which one you believe deserves to be considered for the $50,000 award.

CBC Books will tally your nominations. The book that garners the most nominations will be added to the official longlist, which will be announced on Sept. 6, 2011. Submit your selection by filling out the CBC Books nomination form by midnight ET on Aug. 28.

A list of eligible books is available on the Scotiabank Giller Prize website.

The inclusion of a public participation aspect in this year’s Giller prize echoes the CBC’s approach with last year’s Canada Reads broadcast, which asked the public to nominate titles they considered to be the “essential” Canadian novel of the past 10 years. The Giller prize already has an official jury, made up of Canadian novelist Annabel Lyon, U.S. novelist Howard Norman, and U.K. novelist Andrew O’Hagan. There is no indication who will get credit should the public choose a book the jury already determined would be on the longlist. In addition, not all of the eligible books will be available by Aug. 28, so the public is in effect being asked to vote on books they may not have read.

UPDATE: Material in this post has been updated. Two of this year’s Giller jurors were listed incorrectly. Quillblog regrets the error.

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Canadian literary event round-up, March 11-17

Here are just a few literary/book events happening around the country in the next week:

  • Author Steven Heine and poet Darren Bifford discuss the zen of Bob Dylan, March 12 (1:30 p.m., Alfred Dallaire Memoria, $10), as part of the Montreal Zen Poetry Festival
  • Iconic Toronto artist Fiona Smyth launches her first YA graphic novel The Never Weres (Annick Press), with interview by RM Vaughan, live performance, and comic jam, March 13 (2 p.m., Gladstone Hotel, $5)
  • Recently named Giller juror Annabel Lyon presents the Kreisel Lecture, March 14 (Timms Centre, University of Alberta, 7:30 p.m.)
  • Mr. Funny Pants Michael Showalter signs books at Chapters’ Festival Hall location (John and Richmond, Toronto) on March 16 (7 p.m., free), then performs at the Horseshoe Tavern (8:30 p.m., $15)
  • Shannon Rayne, Warren Dean Fulton, Daniela Elza, Mariner James, and Christine Leclerc are Vancouver poets in conversation and in collaboration, March 15 (6:30 p.m., Railway Club, free)

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Scotiabank Giller Prize jury announced

The jury for the 2011 edition of the Scotiabank Giller Prize was unveiled today. American novelist Howard Norman and U.K. writer Andrew O’Hagan will join B.C. author and former Giller nominee Annabel Lyon on this year’s jury. Lyon was nominated for the prize in 2009 for her novel The Golden Mean.

Following in the footsteps of the Man Booker Prize, this year for the first time Giller jurors will be offered digital versions of the books in addition to traditional hard copies. From the press release:

The Scotiabank Giller Prize will ask publishers this year to provide digital copies of its submitted titles in addition to hard-bound copies. We’re pleased to announce that we’ll be partnering on this initiative with Kobo who will be generously donating three Kobo Wireless E-Readers to the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury panel.

The longlist for this year’s Giller will be announced on Sept. 6. The shortlist will follow on Oct. 4, with the winner being announced at a gala dinner in Toronto on Nov. 8.

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Daily book biz round-up: Franzen has Bad Sex; back to normal at Gaspereau; and more

Today’s book news:

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Daily book biz round-up: Borders pop-up stores; Kobo goes wireless; and more

Today’s book news:

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Margaret Atwood among Edinburgh book fest headliners

Margaret Atwood is one of the big-name authors set to appear at this year’s revamped Edinburgh International Book Festival, which takes place Aug. 14–30. In a cross-festival program with the Edinburgh film festival, Atwood will engage architect Norman Foster in a conversation exploring the techniques used by filmmakers and writers for biographies, the Guardian reports. There’s a catch, however: in addition to the fact that Atwood and Foster are not, strictly speaking, biographers, the ever experimental Atwood will not appear in person, but via video hookup.

The popular fest, founded in 1983, is under the new direction of Nick Barley, who invited four guest “selectors” – Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, poet Don Paterson, literary editor Stuart Kelly, and Ruth Padel, the poet and great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin – to program this year’s event. From the Guardian:

Barley unveiled his first programme today, which features 750 authors. It includes a rare public appearance by Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau in conversation with Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, three Nobel prize winners, including Joseph Stiglitz, the poet Seamus Heaney, the hairdresser Vidal Sassoon and an opening debate on Jesus between the atheist author Philip Pullman and former bishop of Oxford Richard Harries.

Other Canadians in attendance will include Emma Donoghue, Marina Endicott, Linden MacIntyre, Lisa Moore, Miguel Syjuco, Annabel Lyon, Doug Saunders, Jan Wong, Gwynne Dyer, and Leanne Shapton.

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In the works: a sequel to Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean

The follow-up to Annabel Lyon’s Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize–winning novel The Golden Mean will be another novel set in ancient Greece.

According to a press release sent out by Lyon’s agent, Denise Bukowski, The Sweet Girl will tell the story of Aristotle’s daughter Pythias, who fiercely resisted her father’s attempt at the end of his life to arrange her marriage. Pythias appears in The Golden Mean as an infant.

English-Canadian rights for the book were acquired by Random House Canada publisher Anne Collins. The deal was arranged on the basis of a one-page synopsis; a complete manuscript is expected to be delivered in September 2012, with publication scheduled for 2013. 

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IFOA news: Geoffrey Taylor to receive honorary degree, Urquhart to read Munro

Geoffrey Taylor, director of Harbourfront’s Reading Series, is to receive an honorary degree from the School of Creative & Performing Arts at the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Taylor, who has been with Harboufront Centre for 20 years, is being honoured for his contribution to the promotion of Canadian books and authors.

Over the last five years, Taylor has been responsible for the International Festival of Authors, has served as a jury member for both the Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Awards, and has been an adviser to the Humber School for Writers. In 2008, Q&Q included him in a list of the most influential people in Canadian publishing.

Taylor will be presented with the degree at a ceremony on Nov. 7.

The IFOA has also confirmed the lineup for its second annual presentation of the Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize shortlist. For the reading on Oct. 28, the following authors will be reading:

  • Douglas Coupland will read from Generation A
  • Annabel Lyon will read from The Golden Mean
  • Andrew Steinmetz will read from Eva’s Threepenny Theatre
  • Jacqueline Larson will read from Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood’s English-language translations of Nicole Brossard’s Fences in Breathing
  • Jane Urquhart will read from Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness on behalf of Munro, who is unable to attend the event

The winner of the $25,000 award will be announced on Nov. 24 in Toronto.

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“High in antioxidants, low on caffeine”: Leah McLaren weighs in on CanLit

Globe and Mail columnist Leah McLaren is the latest public figure to opine on the state of Can Lit. Prompted by this year’s awards season, McLaren takes the discussion one step further (or, perhaps backward) by flat-out refusing to read any nominated titles.

Beyond wondering who does Annabel Lyon’s hair and if Margaret Atwood is “pissed” by her exclusion from several major shortlists, McLaren simply cannot deign to read jury-selected books, voracious reader though she claims to be. Which, of course, more than qualifies her to weigh in on the subject.

In Saturday’s column, she cautions against the dangers of reading what “the man” tells you to:

[...] despite all the good that literary prizes provide — and I say this as a member of the Authors’ Committee of the Writers’ Trust of Canada — there is also an inherent danger in their increasing cultural primacy.

As one Canadian writer who did not want his name used recently said to me in an e-mail, the problem with prize lists is that they take something intimate and eclectic and turn it into a socially sanctioned Cultural Event.

“Reading — unlike multiplex movie-going, say — is inherently idiosyncratic,” he wrote. “Its idiosyncrasy is in its strength, the breadth of library and bookstore choices offering a feast of discoveries for the curious and story-hungry. Prizes, on the other hand, ultimately work to shape a vast plurality of tastes into a single, institutionally endorsed selection. The Giller is a successful venture, no question about it. But successful at what? Bringing new readers to exciting, boundary-pushing, pleasure-filled books? Or calcifying CanLit into a predictable brand?”

She also likens prize lists to high-school English curricula and the content of prison libraries. Given this year’s sombre selections, it could be argued that McLaren has a point. Besides, who better to judge the state of CanLit than the author of the “giggly, airy” Continuity Girl?

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Creative writing at UBC: an appreciation

CBC Arts looks back at the University of British Columbia’s creative writing program on the occasion of its 40th anniversary. There is, of course, a strong emphasis on the commercial glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Eden Robinson, Annabel Lyon, Steven Galloway, and Nancy Lee, among countless other UBC MFA grads, went on to find fame and fortune (on the CanLit scale, at least). “[N]early half the graduating class of 2001 finished school with a book contract,” notes the writer of the CBC Arts piece, writer Greg Buium. The more recent sharp downturn in the market for first-time fiction gets much less play in the story, though agent Denise Bukowski is quoted as saying, “It’s very hard to convince the media that fiction isn’t what they think it is. Publishers are running scared right now because fiction isn’t selling.”

Related links:
Click here for the CBC Arts story

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

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