The 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist has been announced today, and we are delighted to congratulate Zoe Whittall on being shortlisted for her novel THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE (House of Anansi Press) and Gary Barwin on his nomination for YIDDISH FOR PIRATES (Random House Canada)! Selected from a longlist of 12 books, the jury members Lawrence Hill (jury chair), Jeet Heer, Kathleen Winter, Samantha Harvey and Alan Warner originally read a staggering 161 books submitted by 69 publisher imprints from every region of the country in order to reach their decision.
In THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE by Zoe Whittall, George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?
With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth and the meaning of happiness through the lend of all-American family on the brink of collapse.
YIDDISH FOR PIRATES by Gary Barwin is a brilliant novel filled with Jewish takes on classic pirate tales – fights, prison escapes, and exploits on the high seas – but it’s also a tender love story. Rich with puns, colourful language, post-colonial satire and Kabbalistic hijinks, YIDDISH FOR PIRATES is also a compelling examination of mortality, memory, identity and persecution, from one of this country’s most talented writers.
YIDDISH FOR PIRATES: Across time and across continents, Gary Barwin’s novel “parrots” in an altogether new way. In a ferment of salty witticism, parroty puns and unforgettable Yiddish vocabulary, this is a novel borne not just on the wings of its feathery narrator, but on its own jubilant and alluring language; its own voice. Playful, mocking, using history with audacious abandon, Yiddish for Pirates is a resplendent enjoyment. But, literally viewed from above, the novel also admonishes us about man’s inexhaustible zeal for butchery, for incessant genocide, and for affliction. We have had animal narrators throughout literary history, but Aaron the African grey parrot, from the shoulder of his pirate master, will lift you to new heights.
THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE: The jury found Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People urgent and timely, nuanced and brave. This gripping story challenges how we hear women and girls, and dissects the self-hypnosis and fear that prevent us from speaking disruptive truth. With subversive precision and solid veracity, Whittall calls into question pervasive forms of silence and acquiescence.
The winner will be announced on November 7th, 2016. For venue and ticket information, please visit: Scotiabankgillerprize.ca.
To view the full shortlist and to read excerpts from the books, please visit www.scotiabankgillerprize.ca/finalists/2016-shortlist/.