The Giller Prize 2021 longlist was announced on September 8, the International Literacy Day. From these twelve titles that were chosen amongst the 132 books submitted by publishers across Canada, the jury announced the finalist on October 5, and these five titles will be competing for the most prestigious and richest Canadian literary award on November 8, 9 PM.
This year’s longlist selection is as diverse as Canada itself – in the jury’s words, the longlist “showcases an ecstatic diversity of voices and styles, of narrative deployment and moral urgency, of formal innovation and old-fashioned storytelling pleasure. There is something for everyone on this list, but within each of these books there is to be found beauty, honest reckoning, human compassion, and the irrefutable mark of the sublime.”
Each longlisted title is brilliant and unique, but part of the game is that the jury must pick out five finalists and one winner. How brutal! Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about the longlisted titles that didn’t make the shortlist here (thanks to VPL for giving us this platform!). So, the three books that I’m going to share with you, one made the finalist, the other two not, yet all of them are definitely worth-noting.
Believing in fiction’s power to make a change in the world, the former The Globe and Mail journalist, El Akkard, became a full-time novelist. After his award-winning debut novel American War, his second novel What Strange Paradise is again creating tremendous impact – it is now in this year’s Giller shortlist.
What Strange Paradise offers a timely response to the refugee crisis at the southern U.S. border and the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. It is a harrowing read, right from the first line: “The child lies on the shore. All around him the beach is littered with the wreckage of the boat and the wreckage of its passengers.” But, as readers’ hearts are going to break, El Akkard gives them hope: “A wave brushes gently against the child’s hair. He opens his eyes.” When the child, the only survivor of the shipwreck, awakes in the Greek island and tries to escape from the authority, Vanna, a native teenage girl, did everything in her power to save him. (The Globe and Mail)
It’s a wonderfully told story about humanity in its simplest form, where right and wrong is crystal clear – a much-needed, powerful message in the midst of this world’s never-ending, tumultuous sociopolitical upheavals! (Quill & Quire)Continue reading