Is it true? That those who win prizes win more prizes simply by virtue of being former prizewinners themselves? I don’t know the answer to that question. I am, however, going to be more well-versed in the politics of prize-giving at the end of the Fall semester. Currently, I am taking a course entitled, The Giller Effect. This title is a direct reference to the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a Canadian literary award meant to be, “The first word in fiction,” according to its website.
Before this course I never gave much thought to the politics of publishing, writing, literary awards, and the like. I know this is odd since I’ve been a freelance writer for the past four years. I suppose it’s not so much that the politics have not crossed my mind and more so that I would rather not dwell on too many complexities at once. There are only so many hours in the day and I can only ponder so many ideas at once. But, this class has given me the time and space to dissect the Canadian literary scene.
It feels like a real privilege to spend three hours a week discussing Canadian authors specifically selected by our professor from the list of former Scotiabank Giller Prize winners. Already I feel more informed about the industry of Canadian publishing but I am also now aware of how much more there is to know. We spent two classes or so discussing the Giller and its history because there is so much to learn. You can imagine how much time one could spend discussing the Man Booker Prize, or the Nobel Prizes. I’m glad that we’re concentrating on the Giller though. Despite having read some great Canadian Literature during my undergraduate degree it never feels like the general population gives the genre its due.
So, my suggestion to you dear readers is to do just that – read. Read the shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. I challenge you to delve into the works of your extraordinarily talented fellow Canadians. Come November one of those authors will become the next Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner of the Year! However, all of those books on the short list are available in stores now. Find them, read them, discuss them, and start a conversation about Canadian Literature in Canada.