Monday, March 09, 2009

CNQ: On the Globe & Mail's Newstand

Speaking of punching above circulation weight, the latest issue of CNQ was highlighted, alongside the current New Yorker and NYTBR, in James Adams's On the Stand in Saturday's Globe & Mail:

The Scotiabank Giller Prize (until 2005 just the Giller Prize) marked its 15th birthday last November. Old enough, in other words, for those so inclined to winkle out patterns and themes among the roughly 80 finalists and 16 winners and co-winners selected thus far.

Last year, much was made of the relative newness, output-wise, of the five finalists - three were sophomore novelists, one a rookie to the novel form, the fifth the author of a debut collection of linked short stories. But, asserts Steven Beattie here, plus ça change, plus ç'est la même chose. Review editor for Quill & Quire, Beattie provocatively contends the 2008 Giller jury "reverted to type" by anointing Joseph Boyden's novel Through Black Spruce the champion. The Giller has usually gone to a book that, in Beattie's words, "cleaves to the traditionally accepted CanLit pieties: obsession with geography and our psychic relationship with the land, staunch naturalism and lyrical, poetic prose." For Beattie, the more worthy finalists for last year's $50,000 first prize were Rawi Hage's Cockroach and Mary Swan's The Boys in the Trees. Alas, historical determinism meant neither "stood a chance."

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