Late onset resolution: me vs the Giller Prize

19 Jan

I’m a big fan of resolutions, even if I never keep them.  I’ve never lost the 20lbs, never cleared my place completely of clutter, never even packed lunches to work/school three times a week… but I’ve definitely intended to.  But this, this time will be different!  I got a book-journal for Christmas.  It’s got a page or whatever to write about which books you’ve been reading.  I’ll almost certainly never do that, because I’m disorganized, but I love the idea.  At the back of the book-journal is a reading list of different literary awards.  As I scanned the pages, I became hyper-aware that I’ve read… a small fraction of the award winners.  Of course, there’s merit to any reading, and thousands of brilliant books don’t win awards.  But also, good books do win awards.  And I should be reading more good books.  Anyway, whatever my motivation, I’ve resolved to read all of the Giller Prize winners since the prize was created in 1994.


Why the Giller Prize versus, say, all the other prizes (i.e. Gov Gen award, Nobel, or Booker Prize):

No real reason.  I’ve read very few of the Giller books and there are fewer of them in total.  I can budget two weeks for each one and still get through ’em all this year.  That’s it, mostly.

With that said, I think I’ll read more from the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour because who doesn’t need more humour in their lives?

Will you have anything clever to say about the books you’ll be reading?

No.  Which is bad.  Because reading all the books from a list of literary awards is undeniably pretentious.  Unlike, say, watching all of the Batman movies and saying something silly about each, I feel – maybe mistakenly – that there’s some onus to write something insightful or clever about the books.  I probably won’t do that.  Sorry.  I will write about each of them and maybe have a picture of their cover or something.  My only qualifications as a literary critic are that I worked part-time in a bookstore (and still do, sometimes) and that I’m generally a very ornery person.  Is that sufficient?

The list:

1994 – M.G. Vassanji, The Book of Secrets (status: on order at Bookmark)
1995 – Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (I’m pretty sure my brother owns this)
1996Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
1997Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version
1998 – Alice Munroe, The Love of a Good Woman
1999 – Bonnie Burnard, A Good House
2000 – Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost & David Adams Richards, Mercy Among the Children
2001Richard B. Wright, Clara Callan
2002 – Austin Clarke, The Polished Hoe
2003 – M.G. Vassanji, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall
2004 – Alice Munro, Runaway
2005 – David Bergen, The Time In Between
2006 – Vincent Lam, Bloodletting and other Miraculous Cures
2007 – Elizabeth Hay,  Late Nights on Air
2008 – Joseph Boyden, Through Black Spruce
2009 Linden MacIntyre, The Bishop’s Man
2010 – Johanna Skibsrud, The Sentimentalists

I’ve already read the ones scratched out.


So: next week, me and M.G. Vassanji.  Oh, and will someone tell the Bookmark that they’re completely free to sponsor me on this one, should they wish?

4 Responses to “Late onset resolution: me vs the Giller Prize”

  1. Katelyn January 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    I am sad to report that I have read none of these books. I think this is a check against me in the well-read English student category.
    Good on you for doing this. I will be keeping tabs, and be interested in what you have to report!
    The other, other Kate (Katelyn Jane).

    • Kate McKenna January 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

      Kate!! I’m so happy to hear from you! I think, though, that your reading list is way too challenging for someone like me! You could do an Atwood in an afternoon.

  2. Sarah MacDonald January 27, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    You finished Barney’s Version? We must discuss! I love it way too much.

    Also, Clara Callan is so, so good. It always surprises me when I re-realize a man wrote it. I guess that’s sexist to think that someone can’t write through gender bias, but I figure it would be hard.

    I’ve tried to read A Fine Balance four times – to no avail. It’s just never gonna happen for me.


  1. Lost things « Soap Box - February 14, 2011

    […] done all the things I said I would.  I did do nice things for the rest of the week.  I’ve read two of the Giller books*.  I’ve even had some pretty clever political musings and half-did the research to write a […]

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