Crazy for Canlit 2011

The Scotiabank Giller Prize list is out for 2011 with all books that could make it to the long-list and then to the short-list and on to the Winning Prize. Now, the Giller Prize is a rather touchy (short) list for me and my fellow hoarders. We have read some real stinkers (and I mean some of the worst books I’ve ever read!) based on the wide variety of books Giller has chosen and have been deeply disappointed with the Shortlist selections and the final winners (Sorry, but last year’s The Sentimentalist was one of the worst books I have read. I feel bad just saying that, it seems so unpatriotic, but it is the absolute truth.) This year’s list is extensive, and hopefully the best win out! One thing for certain is there has been A LOT of great Canadian work coming out!!

I’m scrolling through the list now and there are a few here that have caught my eye, including As Long as the River Flows, which looks to be an extremely heartwrenching read, but, an important one nonetheless.  The author is another pique to the interest, as Bartleman is the former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. Reviews have been very strong with messages to make sure a box of tissues is kept handy at all times. I will definitely put this on my list to read, and hope and pray that the Giller Prize is a worthy(ier) list to consult this year….

From the accomplished memoirist and former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario comes a first novel of incredible heart and spirit for every Canadian.

The novel follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is “stolen” from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. She doesn’t speak English but is punished for speaking her native language; most terrifying and bewildering, she is also “fed” to the school’s attendant priest with an attraction to little girls.

Ten long years later, Martha finds her way home again, barely able to speak her native tongue. The memories of abuse at the residential school are so strong that she tries to drown her feelings in drink, and when she gives birth to her beloved son, Spider, he is taken away by Children’s Aid to Toronto. In time, she has a baby girl, Raven, whom she decides to leave in the care of her mother while she braves the bewildering strangeness of the big city to find her son and bring him home.

The O’Briens is another I keep see popping up and all ratings are 5 out of 5. Looks like a must read! (although I wonder, does one need to read The Law of Dreams prior?)

The highly anticipated follow-up to Peter Behrens’ Governor General’s Literary Award-winning novel, The Law of Dreams.

The O’Briens follows the family from The Law of Dreams two generations later: Joe O’Brien is coming of age in a new century in remote Pontiac County, Quebec, with his two brothers and two sisters by his side. Their father has abandoned the family and died in the South African war; their frail mother has remarried the abusive and lecherous Mick Heaney. Joe and his siblings escape the poverty and violence of the Pontiac, but as Joe travels the continent, building a business and a bright young family with his wife, Iseult, he is never quite able to leave his past behind.

Told from the perspectives of Joe, Iseult, and their children and spanning the construction of the Canadian railroad as well as both world wars, this is a majestic novel that mirrors the scope and sweep of what Wilfrid Laurier calls “Canada’s Century.” Tragic, romantic, and as vivid as the novel that preceded it, The O’Briens is an epic of great heart, imagination, and narrative force.

You can catch the full list for your own interest here: http://www.scotiabankgillerprize.com/canlit2011.html

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