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The 23rd Annual Scotiabank Giller Prize – A Star-Studded Celebration of Canadian Literature

© 2016 Article by Aleka Allen, Photos and layout TorontoArtsandEvents.  All Rights Reserved.  Editors please contact us for use.

In front of a live audience and book-loving viewers at home, Madeleine Thien was announced as the grand prize winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize. As the grand prize winner, Madeleine Thien received $100,000 while $10,000 went to the five finalists: Mona Awad, Gary Barwin, Emma Donoghue, Catherine Leroux, and Zoe Whittall. This year’s five-member jury consisted of Lawrence Hill (jury chair), Jeet Heer, Kathleen Winter, Samantha Harvey, and Alan Warner.

A lavish invite-only cocktail reception and dinner was held shortly before the live broadcast. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of the Canadian literary scene’, a handful of the nation’s greatest literary talents and high-profile socialites mingled and discussed literature over exquisite cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. On the other side of the room, this year’s celebrity presenters and finalists posed for photos on the red carpet. Notable guests in attendance included previous Giller Prize winners Dr. Vincent Lam and Andre Alexis, social columnist Shinan Govani, and Margaret Atwood.
For this year’s Giller Prize, there was a new host: stand-up comedian, host of CBC’s “The Debaters”, and author Steve Patterson. His quick wit and dry humour made him a delight to watch. During the show, the segment where he tried to bribe the Giller Prize jury to give his new book the top prize and the moment he lost his cool around Margaret Atwood was hilarious! A live musical performance by Jully Black was another new addition to the program. Her pared down rendition of her hit song, “7 Day Fool”, was sultry, sexy, and powerful.
The celebrity presenters shared stirring and insightful commentary for their respective authors’ novels. American actress and writer Catherine Reitman described Mona Awad’s novel, “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl”, as not only funny but painfully funny in turning society’s dark obsession with body image into gripping fiction. Canadian actor/screenwriter Gordon Pinsent presented Gary Barwin’s novel, “Yiddish for Pirates”, which was hailed as playful and mocking while being a compelling examination of mortality, memory, persecution, all told from the point of view of an African grey parrot. Award winning singer and composer Tanya Tagaq presented Madeleine Thien’s novel, “Do Not Say We Have Nothing’, a multi-layered and beautiful homage to music and the human spirit. Other presenters included the following: Ins Choi, playwright and creator of CBC’s “Kim’s Convenience”, for “The Party Wall” by Catherine Leroux; Amanda Parris, host of CBC Arts “The Exhibitionist”, for “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue, and Annie Murphy, actress on CBC’s Schitt’s Creek, for “The Best Kind of People” by Zoe Whittall.

The room erupted into loud applause and a standing ovation when Jack Rabinovitch, Scotiabank’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Doig, and jury chair Lawrence Hill declared Madeleine Thien and her novel as the winner of the 2016 Giller Prize. In her acceptance speech, she paid a touching tribute to her deceased mother who she wished was alive to celebrate her win. “She arrived in Canada 42 years ago and passed away too young in 2002”, she told the audience. Although she was shaken, her quiet and dignified confidence magnified her presence and commanded the attention of everyone in the room. She ended her speech with a beautiful quote from “Carnival”, a novel written by Lebanese writer and photographer, Rawi Hage: “What do you believe in? What do you live for? What do the stars believe in…? Where do the dead horses go, what do the birds worship, and what do the rivers live for?”
It is also worth noting that she was also named the recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction for the same novel, and was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Congratulations to Madeleine Thien and to all of the finalists, both longlisted and shortlisted, of the 23rd Annual Scotiabank Giller Prize.

About the Scotiabank Giller Prize:
The Scotiabank Giller Prize strives to highlight the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. Starting in 2014, the prize awarded $100,000 to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. To learn more about the Scotiabank Giller Prize, please visit the website http://www.scotiabankgillerprize.ca/

© 2016 Article by Aleka Allen, Photos and layout TorontoArtsandEvents.  All Rights Reserved.  Editors please contact us for use.

Category: Theatre
Start Date: 2016-11-07
End Date: 2016-11-07
Venue: Ritz Toronto

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