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Independent presses dominate short list for $50,000 Giller Prize

Alexander MacLeod

Heather Crosby/Handout

Winnipegger David Bergen will have a shot at winning a second Scotiabank Giller Prize next month.

Bergen's novel The Matter With Morris was short-listed for the $50,000 award Tuesday morning. He won the Giller in 2005 for The Time in Between.

But Bergen's novel (HarperCollins) is the only one from the major multi-national publishing houses that have typically dominated the Gillers in the past. There are no nominees from Random House, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, among others.

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The other four finalists are from independent presses that range from the tiny (Biblioasis, Gaspereau) to mid-sized (Anansi, Thomas Allen).

As well, two short-story collections are in the running: Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod (pictured above; Biblioasis) and This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky (Thomas Allen).

Rounding out the short list are two first novels: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Gaspereau) and Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Anasi).

The Sentimentalists is currently out of stock on, while This Cake is for the Party ships "within 1 to 2 months."

Among the long-listed big-name authors writing for the major houses that were left off the short list are Jane Urquhart ( Sanctuary Line), Michael Helm ( Cities of Refuge) and Joan Thomas ( Curiosity). Emma Donoghue's Man-Booker nominated novel, Room, didn't even make the Giller long list when it was announced on Sept. 20.

This year's Giller jury is made up of broadcaster Michael Enright, author Claire Messud and writer Ali Smith.

The prize was established in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. It has become one of the country's most popular and lucrative literary awards, with nominated books receiving a considerable boost in sales. Each finalist receives $5,000.

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The winner will be announced at a Toronto gala on Nov. 9. The ceremony will be broadcast live on Bravo! and, and will air on CTV on Nov. 10.

It will be hosted by Canada AM broadcaster Seamus O'Regan.

With files from Canadian Press

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