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The 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist

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The shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize has just been announced and includes: Rachel Cusk for her novel Transit, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, Ed O'Loughlin for his novel, Minds of Winter, published by House of Anansi Press, Michael Redhill for his novel, Bellevue Square, published by Doubleday Canada, Eden Robinson for her novel, Son of a Trickster, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, and Michelle Winters for her novel, I Am a Truck, published by Invisible Publishing.

The prize jury wrote of their 2017 selection that it was: "... a year of outliers, of books that were eccentric, challenging or thrillingly strange, books that took us to amusing or disturbing places. In fact, you could say that the exceptional was one of 2017’s trends. It gave the impression of a world in transition: searching inward as much as outward, wary but engaged.”

The literary community in Canada today is doubtless thinking of the prize's founder, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away this summer at age 87. Named in honor of his wife, who was a books editor, the $100,000 prize, the most sizeable Canadian literary award, has been responsible for boosting the careers of authors and shining a spotlight on Canadian fiction. Each shortlist finalist will receive $10,000.

Transit

In the wake of family collapse, a writer and her two young sons move to London. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions - personal, moral, artistic, practical - as she endeavours to construct a new reality for herself and her children. Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility and the mystery of change. In this precise, short and yet epic cycle of novels, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language towards it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one's life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.

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Minds of Winter

It begins with a chance encounter at the top of the world: Fay Morgan and Nelson Nilsson have each arrived in Inuvik, Canada, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, searching for answers about a family member: Nelson for his estranged older brother, Fay for her disappeared grandfather. They soon learn that these two men have an unexpected link - a hidden share in one of the greatest enduring mysteries of polar exploration.

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I Am a Truck

Agathe and Réjean Lapointe are about to celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary when Réjean’s beloved Chevy Silverado is found abandoned at the side of the road—with no trace of Réjean. As her hope dwindles, Agathe falls in with her spirited coworker, Debbie, who teaches Agathe about rock and roll, and with Martin Bureau, the one man who might know the truth about Réjean’s fate. Set against the landscape of rural Acadia, I Am a Truck is a funny and moving tale about the possibilities and impossibilities of love and loyalty.

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Son of a Trickster

Eden Robinson blends humour with heartbreak in this coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otter . . . 

Bellevue Square

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. She's never seen her, but others swear they have. Apparently, her identical twin hangs out in Kensington Market, where she sometimes buys churros and drags an empty shopping cart down the streets, like she's looking for something to put in it. Jean's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving bookstore in downtown Toronto, and she doesn't rattle easily—not like she used to. But after two customers insist they've seen her double, Jean decides to investigate.

Journalist, globe trotter and food lover

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