Literati to reunite at Toronto gala as five writers vie for $100K Giller Prize

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TORONTO — Canada’s literary cognoscenti are breaking out their formal attire and brushing up on their small talk as they prepare to reconvene for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

One of five writers will be awarded the $100,000 honour at a televised Toronto gala tonight.

The nominees are: Omar El Akkad for his novel “What Strange Paradise,” published by McClelland & Stewart; Angélique Lalonde, nominated for her story collection “Glorious Frazzled Beings,” published by House of Anansi; Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia for her novel “The Son of The House,” published by Dundurn Press; Jordan Tannahill for his novel “The Listeners,” published by HarperCollins Canada; and Miriam Toews for her novel “Fight Night,” published by Knopf Canada.

The black-tie affair at the Park Hyatt hotel reinstates the Giller as the bash of the fall books season after last year’s celebration was held remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers say the guest list has been slashed by more than half to facilitate social distancing, and attendees will have to show proof of vaccination to take part in the festivities.

Among the notable names expected to attend are literary legend Margaret Atwood, comedian Rick Mercer, former Ontario premier Bob Rae, journalist Tanya Talaga and authors Charles Foran, Ian Williams and Catherine Hernandez.

Actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and poet Rupi Kaur are co-hosting the festivities, which will include musical performances by jazz artist Denzal Sinclaire and soprano Measha Brueggergosman.

The broadcast will air on CBC and its Gem streaming service at 9 p.m. tonight.

Sitting on this year’s prize jury are Canadian authors Zalika Reid-Benta, Megan Gail Coles and Joshua Whitehead, as well as Malaysian novelist Tash Aw and U.S. author Joshua Ferris.

The Giller awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists.

The Giller was established by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994 in memory of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller.

Last year’s winner was Souvankham Thammavongsa for “How to Pronounce Knife.”

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

 

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