CanLit to-dos punctuated the fall social season, and here are the top two.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize 25th-anniversary gala, Toronto
A bevy of esteemed Canadian literary characters crowded the the Ritz-Carlton, Toronto in honour of the 25th-annual Scotiabank Giller Prize on Nov. 19. Esi Edugyan was named the winner of the $100,000 prize for her widely acclaimed novel Washington Black, published by Patrick Crean Editions.
Among the nearly 500 black-tied gala attendees were CanLit favourites and supporters of the written word, including previously shortlisted author Heather O’Neill and TIFF’s vice-president of advancement, Maxine Bailey, who both served on this year’s jury; Phyllis Yaffe, consul-general of Canada in New York; Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella; Elana Rabinovitch, who serves as executive director of the Scotiabank Giller Prize; and Brian Porter, president and chief executive of Scotiabank.
In her brief, yet apt acceptance speech, the Victoria-based Edugyan made reference to the political mood of the moment: "I just have to say that in a climate where so many forms of truth-telling are under siege, this feels like a really wonderful and important celebration of words.”
Writers’ Trust Gala, Toronto
A week earlier, and bit farther uptown at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel on Nov. 13, another celebration of words was under way, this time the annual gala in support of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. WT board chair Kari Cullen made the big announcement of the evening: the $50,000 Writers’ Trust Fellowship, which was given to Charles Foran, author of the 2010 biography Mordecai: The Life & Times. Since 2015, the fellowship has aimed to provide creative freedom and stimulate interest for leading literature makers of the moment. Foran, who was not able to attend the celebration, joins the list of past fellows including Miriam Toews, who was present.
Four-hundred guests were out for the evening, including more than 50 guest authors who dotted the tables of 10: Writers’ Trust co-founders Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood and David Young; WT executive director Mary Osborne and the event’s chair, author and lawyer Mark Sakamoto. A significant $250,000 was raised to support the organization’s programming.