Giller Prize to go online and continue Jack Rabinovitch and Doris Giller’s family legacy

Nov 3, 2020 | Arts, News

The Scotiabank Giller Prize gala, the most prestigious literary celebration among many in the country is going online for the first time on November, 9 2020.

The festivities, traditionally held at the Four Seasons Hotel, will now be nationally broadcast on CBC books and CBC TV.

The authors shortlisted for this year’s edition of the 100,000 dollar prize, who were announced on Oct 5 are; Gil Adamson, author of Ridgerunner, David Bergen, author of Here The Dark, Emily St. John Mandel, author of The Glass Hotel, Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How To Pronounce Knife and Shani Mootoo, author of Polar Vortex.

Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex is a short story taking place in a time frame of 12-hours, and tells the story of Praia and Alexandra, a married couple whose relationship seems to be falling apart after one of Praia’s friends goes to visit their home in a rural part of Canada one day.

Mootoo wasn’t able to speak to HumberNews about her book and it’s nomination. However, Hazel Millar, one of the people on the editorial team behind the project says this is the first time in Book*hug Press, a 16 year old independent publisher is entering the Giller Prize scene and has decided to keep Mootoo’s legacy

“This is in fact Shani Mootoo’s fourth nomination to the giller, which is in it of itself, quite extraordinary moment in her career.” Millar said. “We’re particularly honoured and proud to share her fourth nomination and our first together.”

She says that she was speechless and then overjoyed when she heard that Mootoo was put in the top five in the contest because the book’s launch in March was halted as COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic and everything shut down.

“We had Shani set up with a full tour of events, she was really going to be right through till May doing events all across Canada,” she said. “Bit by bit, all of those events got canceled, and that’s when we knew it was coming… then the bookstores closed.”

The future of this book was uncertain, but the Scotiabank Giller Prize has given Polar Vortex and the other nominated books a second chance to get into the hands of readers through the advertising that coms with being on the shortlist.

Daphna Rabinovitch, submissions and marketing manager at the Giller Foundation says that Polar Vortex and the other books that made it to the top 14 and then the top five were chosen from 117 books from around the country by a panel of five judges.

“We usually try to get three Canadians, an American and a British judge on the panel,” she says.

Eric McCormack, a Canadian actor is set to host the ceremony this year and there will be a special guest appearance by Diana Krall, Canadian jazz pianist and singer.

Millar says the Scotiabank Giller Prize award ceremony will replicate what took place during the 2020 Emmy Awards, where there will be five different camera people at each one of the finalists’ homes and the five authors are expected to celebrate with their closest family and friends.

“We’re really excited because we’re going to join Shani in Prince Edward county for the gala,” she says. “We’re honoured, we’re really excited to be able to go to Prince Edward county in just a couple of weeks and share the night with her.”

In the end, Millar and Rabinovitch don’t want aspiring authors thinking of entering the Giller Prize contest to think about the money prize but rather that they wanted people to love the writing process.