Although I’m tracking my Giller Prize reading on my Autumn 2018 Prizelists and Events page, I have more to say about reading this year’s Giller list because this is my first year as a Shadow Jury member.
Joining Alison and Kim and Naomi is a pleasure. If you are interested in how the shadowing began, you can search the archives at Kevin Peterson’s blog, where the remaining members’ contributions are chronicled even still.
This year, all members commit to shadowing the 2018 Giller jury (comprised of Kamal Al-Solaylee, Maxine Bailey, John Freeman, Philip Hensher and Heather O’Neill) by reading the five books which were included on the jury’s shortlist on October 1st. They will announce their winner on November 19th.
All four of us will be reading (or have already read) these five shortlisted titles: Patrick deWitt’s French Exit, Eric Dupont’s Songs for the Cold of Heart (2012; Trans. Peter McCambridge, 2018), Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black, Sheila Heti’s Motherhood, and Thea Lim’s An Ocean of Minutes.
Those of us who tend towards the obsessive will have something to say about the seven books on the longlist as well: Paige Cooper’s Zolitude, Rawi Hage’s Beirut Hellfire Society, Emma Hooper’s Our Homesick Songs, Lisa Moore’s Something for Everyone, Tanya Tagaq’s Split Tooth, Kim Thúy’s Vi (2016; Trans. Sheila Fischman, 2018), and Joshua Whitehead’s Jonny Appleseed.
Every year when the longlist is announced, I hope that I’ve read all the books. That never happens. Not even close. And, this year, because I’ve been obsessing about the backlog of books on my TBR, mostly backlisted titles (and a ridiculous number of them – 8,381 at last count) I knew I would have a lot of reading ahead of me.
This proved true, as I had only read the two books which appear with hyperlinks above: Lisa Moore’s short stories (because I love short stories in general and Lisa Moore’s stories in particular) and Kim Thúy’s novella (in Sheila Fischman’s translation) for “Women in Translation” month.
But I was fortunate with library holds, some having been placed in the past which fortuitously arrived just when I was looking to read them, and even more fortunate in “discovering” some copies on the Best Bets shelves in various branches, which are not part of the hold system, and instead just hang about on their shelves, hoping a browsing reader will take them home and spend time with them.
Tomorrow I will have a review of Paige Cooper’s story collection. I’ll be experimenting with a new format for my Shadow Giller reading, aiming for a 300-word and spoiler-free summary for each book, followed by a longer consideration of one aspect of the novel which strikes me as remarkable (which might be more interesting to those who have already read the book or to other writers).