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Toronto Giller Prize winner Michael Redhill on literature and living in Toronto

Giller Prize winner Michael Redhill hangs out in Jimmy’s Coffee in Toronto on Nov. 28, 2017.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

American-born, Toronto-raised author Michael Redhill won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in November for Bellevue Square, a dark comic literary thriller about a woman who fears for her sanity and eventually her life when she learns that her doppelganger has appeared in a local park. He had just $411.46 in the bank when he deposited the $100,000 prize.

1. What is your greatest fear?

Losing people.

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2. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

The cream in my love's coffee.

3. What is the best line you've ever written?

"The cream in my love's coffee."

4. If you could live anywhere in Toronto, where would it be?

Right where I am, in Riverdale, where I've been for most of the last 16 years. But on the weekends, I'd be fine with having a pied à terre in Dundas West or West Queen West, in proximity to great bars and restaurants.

5. What restaurant have you eaten at the most?

By The Way cafe, which has been a breakfast meeting spot for me since the mid-eighties, when the "Lick'n Chick'n" sign still hung outside, and it said "Sorry, we have chicken" in the window.

6. If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would it be?

Tintin

7. What is the best present you've ever been given?

The Giller Prize

8. What is the greatest issue facing Toronto?

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Swelling growth and the pressure on the city's infrastructure. Affordable housing. Mascots are not "world class."

9. When and where were you happiest?

At the births of my sons.

10. What is the best book you've read this year?

Lincoln in the Bardo.

11. Bike, walk or drive?

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All.

12. If a time machine took you back to depute before Toronto city council in 1975, what would you tell them?

1) Stop tearing down perfectly good buildings – use them! 2) One day in the future, I'll be buying cold cuts exactly where Terry Sawchuk used to play.

13. Least favourite holiday

Festivus, followed closely by Love Your Lawyer Day.

14. Personal trait you most despise

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Small-mindedness.

15. An object you still own from your childhood

My favourite childhood plush toy, a seal named Sealy. It's in a box in my basement, dusty and unloved.

16. What was your first paying job?

Circa 1982, at Bayview Village, in the deli-bakery that was across from Paisano's Pizza. I made sandwiches at the deli counter and was eventually fired for eating too much egg salad on my break.

17. Dog or cat?

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Both! And the cat thinks she's a dog.

18. If you had $1-million to give to a charity, what cause would you select?

Doctors Without Borders.

19. What life lesson have you learned this year?

Don't assume the worst.

20. What is Toronto's greatest park?

Bellevue Square.

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