Canadian Literary Prize De-Coded

November is prize time for Canadian literature: the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize is being announced this week, the Governor General’s Award in two weeks.

These are the playoffs, the national championships of books. Everybody in the publishing industry is downing Ativans waiting for the big announcements, which will turn one introspective loner into a sudden celebrity, and make him or her suddenly rich.

Thanks to this handy summary, you will now be able to impress a brainy woman (and maybe your bookie) with your knowledge of the biggest gossip in Canlit, without having to actually read the books.

What to know about the Scotiabank Giller Prize (tomorrow):

Usually the more populist, it’s also the richest. The winner scores $40,000 in pencil and wine money, not to mention the promise of a lot of Christmas sales.

What to know about this year’s shortlist: Atypically, this year, it’s young and obscure; all five novels are either first or second outings. It’s Montreal- heavy; three of the writers hail from there. And as in the Governor General’s Awards shortlist, books from smaller presses have fared well this year.

One to watch/read: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. Interlocking short stories about up-and-coming med students, written by a practicing Toronto doctor – Lam works as an emergency room physician at Toronto East General.

Image Courtesy of guldfisken on Flickr.

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