Shadowing the Best of CanLit

Featuring the Shadow Giller

Tomorrow night is the official announcement of the winner of the 2022 Giller Prize! While we wait in anticipation for the winning title, the 2022 Shadow Giller has gathered to discuss the book they feel should win the prize.

While our winning title was again not completely a unanimous choice (like last year), the books we chose to be in our Top 3 were indeed unanimously decided upon! That is something to celebrate, and all three of us agree that if any one of the books from our Top 3 is chosen, there will be no disappointment from this jury!

So, without any further delay….drum roll please….announcing the Shadow Giller’s 2022 Giller Prize Winner:

The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr is the winning book for this 2022 jury.

How we voted:

Penny: The Sleeping Car Porter

Lindy: The Sleeping Car Porter

Jolene: Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

What the Shadow Giller jury had to say:

Jolene: She chose Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century over The Sleeping Car Porter as she felt these stories were surprising, unique, made her think and had more of an emotional impact on her. While she did not feel The Sleeping Car Porter was exceptional enough for her to state this was her choice for the winning title, she would not be upset in any way should this be the actual winner. She does feel due to its historical relevancy to Canadians it would make a great winner.

Lindy: She was over the moon to see The Sleeping Car Porter on PW’s best fiction of 2022 list. This was her top pick. And like the rest of us, would really have no problem if any of the books from our Top 3 were to be crowned the winner. Here’s Lindy standing behind her winning book!

Penny: As she wrote earlier about her Top 3, Penny can’t think of a better work of fiction deserving of a literary prize than The Sleeping Car Porter.

We are as anxious as all of you to find out the true winner tomorrow night! We look forward to celebrating with you when the winner is formally announced.

And we thank you once again for reading along with us this year. We’ll be back next year for sure!

We’re one week away from the announcement of the winner for the 2022 Giller Prize!

Another literary season in the books and another year of being a Shadow Giller jury member comes to a close.

I haven’t fully discussed any of these books with my Shadow Giller jury members yet, only a brief and quick, almost passing agreement with Lindy on the one we’re leaning towards as our winner. As past practice has dictated, we’ll come together the day before the official Giller Prize announcement and post which book we hope to see land the coveted prize. I’m thinking maybe we might all be in agreement this year? We shall see soon won’t we?

I’m only going to talk about my top 3 books here. These 3 are the best of the 5 in my opinion, and to be honest, if any of these books are to be crowned the official winner, you would hear no disappointment from me. However there is one that I do place as my top choice and I am hoping it is the actual winner.

I’ll start with my 3rd place choice:

A beautifully written debut, absolutely, but one where I must be honest in saying I struggled to always want to be reading it. I never felt compelled to return to it, indeed I put it aside each time another one of the other Giller shortlisted titles arrived from the library. While it is truly a beautiful story and I can fully appreciate why it is on the Giller Shortlist, my personal feelings when reading ebbed and flowed. A story telling of Tibetan exiles and the generational impact this has on family members, it is a story about people being removed from their place, their land, about now finding their place, and their identity, their sense of belonging. The parts where I was most engaged are in the modern-day parts with Dolma, where she recognizes the unnamed statue, an important statue for her family, and the meaning and purpose behind this discovery, but also how these artifacts are used in “collections” and museum pieces. I’ll never properly describe this, but it is what I found to be most compelling aspects of this novel. Truthfully however, I did feel it was drawn out and as I said above, my feelings ebbed and flowed for it overall.

“Twelve unforgettable tales of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange…” (taken from Goodreads description.) I can’t think of a better way of describing these stories, that now, long after I’ve finished, I’m still thinking of them. Therefore, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century sits firmly in my Top 3 for the 2022 Giller Prize.

These stories have taken the ordinary and taken ordinary circumstances but added a fantastical element to them. The ones that had more of this fantastical were the ones I loved the most. Stories like “Liddy, First to Fly” for instance, is about girls coming of age, finding their boundaries but doing so featuring Liddy having wings on her ankles. “The Doll” was hands-down my favourite in this collection. A very Stephen-King-esque tale, I loved it. Rounding out my favourites were “June Bugs” and “Bridezilla“. The more I reflect on this collection, the more I feel it’s place here and one to be strongly in the running for the Giller Prize. Will another short story collection be crowned the winner on November 7th? I’m not sure about that being the case, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if that was the announcement made at the end of the ceremony either.

The Sleeping Car Porter, with its gorgeous cover and its card-stock like paper which this wonderful tale of Baxter is written on, is the one I hope takes the prize. Effortlessly and subtly Mayr has constructed this story about racism, discrimination, identity, invisibility, working class lives….We’re taken on a historical journey via train where it integrates so much (I’m really not able to eloquently describe it) and it’s all done through this beautifully rendered character named Baxter. I can’t think of a better work of fiction deserving of a literary prize than this one.

Do my fellow Shadow Giller jury members feel the same? That will be coming to you on Sunday, November 6th.

(This was posted simultaneously on the Literary Hoarders site: (

📚 Billy-Ray Belcourt, for his novel, A Minor Chorus, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

📚 André Forget, for his novel, In the City of Pigs, published by Dundurn Press

📚Kim Fu, for her short story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, published by Coach House Books

📚 Rawi Hage, for his short story collection, Stray Dogs, published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

📚 Sheila Heti, for her novel, Pure Colour, published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

📚 Brian Thomas Isaac, for his novel, All the Quiet Places, published by Touchwood Editions

📚 Conor Kerr, for his novel, Avenue of Champions, published by Nightwood Editions

📚 Suzette Mayr, for her novel, The Sleeping Car Porter, published by Coach House Books

📚 Noor Naga, for her novel, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, published by Graywolf


📚 André Narbonne, for his novel Lucien & Olivia, published by Black Moss Press

📚 Dimitri Nasrallah, for his novel, Hotline, published by Véhicule Press

📚 Fawn Parker, for her novel, What We Both Know, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

📚 Tsering Yangzom Lama, for her novel, We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

📚 Antoine Wilson, for his novel, Mouth to Mouth, published by Simon & Schuster Canada

The longlist was selected by an esteemed panel of five judges: Canadian authors Casey Plett (Jury Chair), Kaie KelloughWaubgeshig Rice, and American authors, Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer.

Of the longlist, the jury wrote:

As the world roils and rolls on in this strange new decade, the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury can report that Canadian fiction is only becoming more bountiful, energetic, meaningful, funny, and moving. The jury’s discussions and debates throughout the year were nuanced and spirited, but most of all we were continuously in awe of the cornucopia presented to us. We are proud to showcase a longlist of fourteen outstanding titles that are sweeping in scope, touch all corners of life, and which provide pleasure and stimulation as well as urgency and depth. To the nominated authors, it is our delight and honour to say: Congratulations, and thank you.

The Shadow Giller jury will be back soon with their thoughts! What about you? What do you think of this year’s Longlist?

Hi! This is Lindy. I’ve been shadowing the Giller again this year and have read 36 eligible books so far. Time is running out because the official longlist will be announced on Tuesday September 6. Instead of trying to guess which books the esteemed official jurors will choose, I’ve gone ahead with my own selections, ignoring everything I haven’t read, including those that are yet to be published. (The official cut-off date is September 30, 2022.)

Here are my top dozen:

Personal Attention Roleplay by Helen Chau Bradley

Binge: 60 Stories to Make Your Brain Feel Different by Douglas Coupland

Remnants by Celine Huyghebaert, translated by Aleshia Jensen

Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr

We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama

Everything Affects Everyone by Shawna Lemay

Animal Person by Alexander Macleod

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

Ezra’s Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose

Buffalo Is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel

I made a video about my choices, ranking them, and boldly predicting the winner

We have just one week remaining until the long-awaited 2022 Giller Longlist is revealed! As always it is impossible to figure out what the Giller jury may choose from this year’s massive eligible list. We rely heavily on the Craving CanLit listings to choose our own reading and to speculate what might appeal to the judges. Below is complete speculation on my part as to what we might see on Tuesday, September 6th. The list below is a combination of what I would like/hope to see on the list but also what I think the judges may choose. It’s wholly conjecture on my part!

There were a lot of short story collections listed this year and I think we may see those dominate the Longlist. But again, I can never predict well. There are also a good number on my list that haven’t been published or are available until after the Longlist announcement, so it’s a complete guessing game there isn’t it? On this list, I’ve read only two and of the ones I did read, I do hope to at least see these two on the Longlist. Those two are: When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill and No Stars in the Sky by Martha Batiz. (Batiz’s is one where fellow Shadow juror Lindy disagrees with me, but O’Neill’s is the one we both agree should be on the Longlist.)

I’ve selected a nice round dozen for my Wishlist. Links to their descriptions can be found by clicking on the image. What do you think of my list?

I have many, many more marked to read because they appeal very much to me, and maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and will see some of those appear on the actual Longlist. It’s always a mystery and I’m sure if I went back and looked at the list of eligible titles I would change some on here. But for now – these are the ones I think (and hope) we’ll see next Tuesday!

Thank you for reading along with us again this year, we’re looking forward to it as always!

Once again, I will be participating as a jury member on the Shadow Giller, as well as posting on Literary Hoarders. Because of this, a lot of my reading will start to shift to many of the books eligible for the prize, sifting through the Craving CanLit site for those eligible titles. Short story collections are always, always on the Long-and-Short Lists so I’m thinking of reading the (many number of) short story collections already appearing in prep for these Shadow Giller duties.

All the Shining People was my first collection read from the list of eligible titles. A debut collection, it’s one where I felt a strong connection to a few of the stories inside. The back of the book describes All the Shining Peoplewith its focus on family, culture and identity, captures the experiences of immigrants and outsiders with honesty, subtlety, and deep sympathy.” Doesn’t that sound similar to How to Pronounce Knife: Stories? Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed this collection so much. (How to Pronounce Knife was the story collection that won the 2020 Giller Prize and was the winner of the Shadow Giller as well.)

Friedman’s very early childhood was spent in South Africa before emigrating to Canada, and many of her stories have a recurring school-age theme running through them – high school and university mainly. I felt as though Kathy grew up in the 70s and 80s because so very many of these stories captured many similarities of what school was like for me – or I could recognize what the characters were going through. Some of the characters are linked into other stories as well.

The stories that stood out for me?:

My very favourite story would be the final one, Hineni. A story of a man just passed who is faced with his seeing the legacy he’s leaving behind, mainly through the eyes of his daughter, or rather how he failed to fully connect with her and he feels as though he has more to do, or experience, or tell, but he’s being led away into the afterlife. He’s trying to hang on just a little longer so he can spend more time remembering.

I marked four other stories down as the ones I appreciated most out of the twelve:

Seeing Clearly. This has a similar theme to Hineni since he’s recalling his childhood: his past, his father, and grappling with the legacy of his father. It’s told through recollections, “He ripped the photo in half and in half again, ripping until he had no history, no security, no burdens. The past was gone.”

Hentie’s Voice. This one gave me all the feelings of what it was like to “survive” school. The feelings of hesitancy, the bullying, the uncertainty of friendships, there was just something in this story that was so very recognizable. “You’d forgotten it was possible to feel so much joy.”

Bad Things. Told from a boy’s perspective, it is another story associated with the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of school time, this one with the confusion of sexuality at a young age.“Remember,’ he said, ‘courage means doing the right thing even though you’re scared. You always have a choice. That’s what my own dad used to say to me.”

The title story, All the Shining People, was one so strikingly familiar to high school experiences, it is told through dual perspectives, one from a boy, one from a girl about their sexuality, individuality, it is a story examining their relationship with a boy that is considered a social outcast and what their friendship/relationships are to this boy. “We were connected after all.” “…I’d lift him into the air, and then, like a banner, like a banner in a parade and with confetti, with a marching band, I’d watch my love unfurl across the sky, to ripple and wave above the city and all the shining people in it.”

Will it make the Giller’s Longlist? This is only my first collection read so I can’t say with certainty myself right now. Yet, in my opinion it is a strong contender. I have placed many of the other collections appearing on Craving CanLit’s site on hold at the library, so I’ll be spending more time with short stories in the very near future. Indeed I already am as I’m currently reading No Stars in the Sky by Martha Batiz.

For these books eligible for the Shadow Giller, I’ll be simultaneously posting over on the Literary Hoarders site as well. I hope you enjoy taking this year’s journey with me through what the best of CanLit has to offer!

The jury for the 2022 was announced sometime ago (sorry for the time lapse here)!

The 2022 jury members are:

Award-winning Canadian authors Kaie KelloughCasey Plett (jury chair) and Waubgeshig Rice and American authors Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer.

2022 Giller Prize Jury

This looks like an exciting jury and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing the books they choose for the Longlist.

Speaking of the Longlist (and Shortlist) the timeline between those two dates is quite quick and short! Depending on how many of the books on the Longlist the Shadow Giller jury will have read before its announcement, it looks like we can be counted on to (only?) read the Shortlist in full! Goodness that’s a short timeline! 🙂 Our eyes are continuously focused on the Craving CanLit 2022 page and we’ve started our reading based on it already.

Longlist Announcement: Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Shortlist Announcement: Tuesday, September 27, 2022

We’re looking forward to loads of Giller fun this year! Our Shadow Giller jury is taking shape and we’ll be here to take this reading journey with you again.

From the desk of Elana Rabinovitch:

On January 24, 2022, at 10 a.m. ET, we will release the names of this year’s five-member jury panel for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
We are extremely excited about this year’s lineup and hope that you will join us for the announcement.

We will share the news via email, on our website and social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram).
We are looking forward to another incredible year of Canadian literature.
Elana Rabinovitch
Executive Director
Scotiabank Giller Prize

We here at the Shadow Giller are highly anticipating another incredible year of Canadian literature too!!

Tonight we will find out the official winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and right now you will find out who the Shadow Jury has chosen as their winner. Are you ready?

While this was not a unanimous decision and didn’t come as quickly and easily as last year’s choice, it was at the very top of Juror Lindy’s list all along, and for both Jurors’ Penny and John it was second in line. Therefore….our winner for the 2021 Giller Prize is……

Will the Shadow Jury choose the official winner for a second year in a row? We will find out tonight!

Here are some reasons why our Shadow Jury chose Fight Night by Miriam Toews as the winner:

In the words of Shadow Juror Lindy: Fight Night hit me so deeply emotionally. Lindy felt it was the perfect novel, due to its twin subjects of mental health, and our need for love & support from the people around us, are relevant always… yet maybe more so in pandemic times. John enjoyed it saying it was funny, full of heart, and he loved the voice. Penny warmed to it toward its ending and realized its impact at that end.

Watch the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize broadcast tonight on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service, where the winner will be announced. 9 p.m. ET and see if we once again chose the same winner!

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