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The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize – Celebrating the Best and Brightest of Canadian Fiction

By: Aleka Allen divider image

Related Event: The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize – Celebrating the Best and Brightest of Canadian Fiction

In Memory of Jack Rabinovitch, Founder of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

On Monday, November 20th, 2017, Toronto-based novelist, Michael Redhill, won this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel, ‘Bellevue Square’. Along with winning $100,000, he also received a two-week, self-directed residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s exclusive Leighton Artists’ Studios. $10,000 went to each of the four finalists: Rachel Cusk for her novel, ‘Transit’; Ed O’Loughlin for his novel, ‘Minds of Winter’; Eden Robinson for her novel, ‘Son of a Trickster’; and Michelle Winters for her novel, ‘I am a Truck’. This year’s five-member jury consisted of Anita Rau Badami (jury chair), Andre Alexis (author and 2015 Giller Prize winner), Lynn Coady (author, journalist and 2013 Giller Prize winner), Nathan Englander (American author), and Richard Beard (British author).

The announcement was made at a glamorous, invitation-only black-tie dinner and live broadcast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where nearly 500 members of the publishing, media, and arts communities were in attendance. Dubbed ‘The Golden Globes 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. Notable guests in attendance included previous Giller Prize winner Dr. Vincent Lam, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, CBC TV personalities Peter Mansbridge and Ian Hanomansing, and CBC Arts’ Amanda Parris. One notable face was missing at this year’s awards gala. Jack Rabinovitch, the founder of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, passed away in August of this year. Although his presence was certainly missed, the room was full of love and respect for him and the wonderful legacy he left behind. Elana Rabinovitch, Executive Director of the Giller Prize, was absolutely magnificent as she took to the stage to welcome the guests, thank the sponsors, and the judges for their roles in the success of this year’s awards ceremony. The amount of grace she displayed garnered a standing ovation from the audience.

The live broadcast opened with a poignant memorial tribute to the life of Jack Rabinovitch with a slideshow that played during a live performance from Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman. She performed a sublime rendition of Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”, and looked absolutely enchanting in her outfit from Canadian fashion label, Call and Response.  This year’s host was the iconic comedienne/actress/producer/author, Mary Walsh. Before she dove into her monologue, she acknowledged that the ceremony is being held on indigenous land, which was a respectful, small, yet essential step towards reconciliation. Her quick wit, dry humour, and captivating stage presence made her a delight to watch.

This year’s presenters were famed Canadian authors, Madeleine Thien (2016 Giller Prize winner), John Irving, Lawrence Hill, Thomas King, and Rupi Kaur. They shared stirring and insightful commentary for their respective authors’ novels. Madeleine Thien described Michelle Winters’ debut novel, “I am a Truck”, as a raunchy, playful ten-years-in-the-making labour of love. John Irving presented Rachel Cusk’s novel, “Transit”, which was hailed as simultaneously intimate and expansive, wise and humorous. Lawrence Hill presented Michael Redhill’s novel, “Bellevue Square’, a multi-layered exploration of family, community, mental health, and literary life set in Kensington Market. Thomas King described Ed O’Loughlin’s novel, “Minds of Winter”, as an extraordinary story of the Franklin expedition in the Arctic. Rupi Kaur presented Eden Robinson’s novel as a sombre yet beautiful coming of age story involving pot cookies and intergenerational trauma. The language used in her book is evocative and magical with a dash of humour. The pacing of the show was faster than previous broadcasts, as Mary took to the stage to interview the finalists for less than thirty seconds before cutting to commercial break. None of the finalists got to recite their ‘thank you’ speeches, which is most likely a decision made by the production team but it made the show seem rushed.

The room erupted into loud applause and a standing ovation when Elana Rabinovitch and Scotiabank’s Chief Marketing Officer John Doig, announced Michael Redhill and his novel as the winner of the 2017 Giller Prize. When he read his acceptance speech, his voice creaked and he was visibly shaking as he expressed deep gratitude to everyone who worked with him, supported him, and read his novels. He ended his speech by encouraging everyone to raise their glasses to Jack Rabinovitch.

Congratulations to Michael Redhill and to all of the finalists, both longlisted and shortlisted, of the 24th Annual Scotiabank Giller Prize.

About the Scotiabank Giller Prize
The Scotiabank Giller Prize, founded in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year. The Prize awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away suddenly in August 2017. To learn more about the Scotiabank Giller Prize, please visit the website

© 2017 Article by Aleka Allen, Photos and layout TorontoArtsandEvents.  All Rights Reserved.  Editors please contact us for use.

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