Book Look: Library Has Giller Prize Nominees

giller prize

Did you know your campus Library carries the latest 2019 Giller Prize shortlisted novels? If you’re looking for something to get you through these cozy autumn evenings, feel free to ask us to put a title aside for you! You can check availability in our catalogue by clicking on any of the book jacket covers.

If you want to contact us to put a title on reserve, you can do so through email at library@stclaircollege.ca, or by phone at (519) 972-2727 ext. 4728.

The Giller Prize winner will be announced on Monday, November 18. Here are this year’s six finalists:

Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis: In the title story, a father and his young daughter stumble into a bizarre version of his immigrant childhood. A mysterious tech conference brings a writer to Montreal, where he discovers new designs on the past in “How It Used to Be”. A grandfather’s Yiddish letters expose a love affair and a wartime secret in “Little Rooster”. In “Childhood”, Mark’s concern about his son’s phobias evokes a shameful incident from his own adolescence. In “Roman’s Song”, Roman’s desire to help a new immigrant brings him into contact with a sordid underworld. At his father’s request, Victor returns to Riga, the city of his birth, where his loyalties are tested by the man he might have been in “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave”. And, in the noir-inspired “The Russian Riviera”, Kostya leaves Russia to pursue a boxing career only to find himself working as a doorman in a garish nightclub in the Toronto suburbs. In these deeply felt, slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes, but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles: February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year. Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. John’s, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm system of sex, betrayal, addiction, and hurt is breaking overhead. Iris, a young hostess from around the bay, is forced to pull a double, despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy restaurateur wife. Just tables over, Damian, a hung-over and self-loathing server, is trying to navigate a potential punch-up with a pair of lit customers who remain oblivious to the rising temperature in the dining room. Meanwhile Olive, a young woman far from her northern home, watches it all unfurl from the fast and frozen street. Through rolling blackouts, we glimpse the truth behind the shroud of scathing lies and unrelenting abuse, and discover that resilience proves most enduring in the dead of this winter’s tale. By turns biting, funny, poetic, and heartbreaking, Megan Gail Coles’ debut novel rips into the inner lives of a wicked cast of characters, building towards a climax that will shred perceptions and force a reckoning. This is blistering Newfoundland Gothic for the 21st century; a wholly original, bracing, and timely portrait of a place in the throes of enormous change, where two women confront the traumas of their past in an attempt to overcome the present and to pick up a future.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey: A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland's northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them. As they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested. This novel is richly imagined and compulsively readable, a riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister. By turns electrifying and heartbreaking, it is a testament to the bounty and barbarity of the world, to the wonders and strangeness of our individual selves.

Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin: All her life, Lark Brossard has felt invisible, overshadowed by the people around her: first by her temperamental mother, Marianne; then by her sister, Robin, a brilliantly talented pianist as wild as the animals she loves; and finally by Lawrence Wheelock, a renowned filmmaker who is both Lark’s employer and her occasional lover. When Wheelock denies her what she longs for most — a child — Lark is forced to re-examine a life marked by unrealized ambitions and thwarted desires. As she takes charge of her destiny, Lark comes to rely on Robin in ways she never could have imagined. In this meditation on motherhood, sisterhood, desire, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complex path towards fulfillment as an artist and a human being.

Lampedusa by Steven Price: In sun-drenched Sicily, among the decadent Italian aristocracy of the late 1950s, Giuseppe Tomasi, the last prince of Lampedusa, struggles to complete the novel that will be his lasting legacy, “The Leopard”. With a firm devotion to the historical record, Lampedusa leaps effortlessly into the mind of the writer and inhabits the complicated heart of a man facing down the end of his life, struggling to make something of lasting worth, while there is still time. Achingly beautiful and elegantly conceived, Lampedusa is an intensely moving story of one man's awakening to the possibilities of life, intimately woven against the transformative power of a great work of art.

Reproduction by Ian Williams: Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia's mother dies and Edgar's "Mutter" does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter's caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don't quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short. Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids – the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army's fascination with his absent father – and his absent father's money – begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar's unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family. Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn't a matter of blood.