Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Author Miriam Toews is photographed at her home in Toronto.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Sean Michaels was home with his wife on Monday morning, looking at wedding photographs, when he learned he was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize via a text message from his father. Monday, it so happened, was the couple's first wedding anniversary, and it is "bewilderingly apt," he said in a phone interview later in the day, that it is traditionally known as the paper anniversary.

"There was much hooting and hollering," said Michaels, speaking from his home in Montreal. "This being my first book, I was really aspiring to find the right words and then [be] lucky enough to get them into people's hands. Everything beyond that has felt like an overflowing of luck and riches. So this is completely unforeseen and feels really improbable."

The 32-year-old author's first novel, Us Conductors, is one of six finalists for the prize that recognizes the best in Canada fiction – an award, according to prize founder Jack Rabinovitch, that "has become a celebration of all Canadian writers, not just the winners." It's a lovely sentiment, but the six writers on the shortlist are probably celebrating a bit more than their peers. This year's winner takes home $100,000 – twice as much as 2013 – while each finalist receives $10,000, making it the most lucrative fiction prize in Canada and one of the richest in the English-language.

Story continues below advertisement

Besides Michaels, whose novel fictionalizes the life of Russian inventor and musician Lev Termen, the finalists include David Bezmozgis for The Betrayers, about a disgraced Israeli politician who seeks sanctuary in the Crimean resort town of Yalta; Frances Itani for her novel, Tell, a semi-sequel to her 2003 bestseller, Deafening; Heather O'Neill for her The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, about twins growing up in Montreal on the eve of the 1995 Quebec referendum; Miriam Toews for All My Puny Sorrows, a novel about sisterhood and suicide; and Padma Viswanathan for The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, about a psychologist exploring the aftermath of the 1985 Air India bombing.

Both Bezmozgis and Toews have previously been finalists for the prize, which honours the late literary journalist Doris Giller.

Interestingly, this year's shortlist hints at the two solitudes that have emerged in Canadian publishing since the merger of Penguin and Random House was announced in 2012; although books by two independent publishers – Biblioasis and ECW – were on the 12-book longlist, half of the shortlisted titles are published by Penguin Random House, the other half by HarperCollins Canada.

This year's jury – British author Justin Cartwright, Canadian novelist Shauna Singh Baldwin, and American writer Francine Prose – considered 161 books before settling on the shortlist, a difficult process, said Cartwright, considering the "astonishingly high number of very, very good books" submitted by publishers from across Canada.

"For me, it was an absolute revelation to see how many fine writers there are in this country," said Cartwright.

The jurors especially praised the "depth" and "diversity" of this year's entries.

"I think what's striking is the variety of the books," said Prose. "I mean, all they have in common is that they're very good books. But subject matter, setting, characters – they're all extraordinarily different."

Story continues below advertisement

The winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced in Toronto on Nov. 10.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies