This is the time of year when all the best works of literary fiction are paid their dues. There are endless awards (and award winners) to choose from so I’ve rounded up some of the most talked-about prizes for you to consider for your next great read.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize, considered to be Canada’s most prestigious prize for literary fiction, was established in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch to honor his late wife, Doris Giller, a literary journalist. This year’s winner was Reproduction by Ian Williams, which the publisher describes as “a hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams’ own.”
The Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award is best described as the “readers’ choice” of Canadian literary awards. Each year, a committee of librarians selects a list of 10 nominees and library patrons from all across the province have an opportunity to vote on their favourite. Lennox and Addington residents have participated in this award program for nearly a decade. The winner for 2019 was Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, a work of apocalyptic fiction set on the reservation of an Anishinaabe community in northern Ontario. On the precipice of winter without power or communication, the leaders must grapple with control, restore order, and save their people from a grave fate.
Established in 1968, The Man Booker Prize is a highly coveted award. The Booker Prize Foundation annually honors the author of an English language novel who is a citizen of the Common Wealth of Nations (Canada is included!) or Ireland. This year, the award was shared by two authors: Margaret Atwood for The Testaments (Canada) and Bernadine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other (United Kingdom). The former is a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale which answers the question that has tantalized readers for decades: what happens to Offred? The latter is described as “a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity among an interconnected group of Black British women.”
Established in 1917 and endowed by Joseph Pulitzer, the noted Hungarian immigrant newspaper publisher, the Pulitzer Prize categories recognize distinguished works of fiction and nonfiction published in book form by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It’s basically the Giller Prize of American literature. The winner for General Fiction in 2019 was The Overstory by Richard Powers. It is an impassioned novel of activism and natural-world power that is comprised of interlocking fables about nine strangers who are summoned in different ways by trees in order to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
The Governor General’s Literary Award is another major literary award player. With some categories beginning as early as 1936, these annual awards have honoured outstanding English and French language works by Canadian authors in the categories of fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction, translation, and children’s literature. The 2019 prize for Fiction went to Five Wives by Joan Thomas. It is the story of five women who are left behind in the rainforest of Ecuador after their missionary husbands are killed. The prize for Non-Fiction was To the River: Losing My Brother, a memoir by Don Gillmor in which he grapples with understanding why his brother was lost to suicide.
All of the titles mention in this article can be reserved from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online at www.CountyLibrary.ca.