Annal: 1997 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 1997.

Book:Barney's Version

Barney's Version: A Novel

Mordecai Richler

When a sixty-seven-year-old Canadian rascal named Bernard Panofsky decides to write “the true story of my wasted life.” the result is Barney’s Version, Mordecai Richler’s wickedly funny blend of satire, social commentary, and brilliant introspection on the state of contemporary life.

Hoping to rebut the charges about him made in a rival’s autobiography Barney feels compelled to pen his account of events. From his bohemian misadventures during the 1950s in Paris to the fortune he amassed through his trashy TV company Totally Unnecessary Productions and the three women he married, he quickly proves that his memory may be slipping, but his bile isn’t. He skewers feminists, politicians, the bourgeoisie, fads, social movements, and most of all himself. And when it comes to being charged with the murder of his own best friend—caught in bed with the second Mrs. Panofsky—Barney’s version is as contradictory…[more]

Book:Cereus Blooms at Night

Cereus Blooms at Night: A Novel

Shani Mootoo

Set on a fictional Caribbean island in the town of Paradise, Cerus Blooms at Night unveils the mystery surrounding Mala Ramchandin and the tempestuous history of her family. At the heart of this bold and seductive novel is an alleged crime committed many years before the story opens. Mala is the aging, notoriously crazy woman suspected of murder who is delivered to the paradise Alms House after a judge finds her unfit to stand trial. When she arrives at her new home, frail and mute, she is placed in the tender care of Tyler, a vivacious male nurse, who becomes her unlikely confidant and the storyteller of Mala’s extraordinary life.

In luminous, sensual prose that “employs myth and magic reminiscent of Isabel Allende” (Out magazine), Mootoo joins diverse storytelling traditions to explore identity, gender, and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love despite cruelty and despair.

Book:Larry's Party

Larry's Party

Carol Shields

The San Diego Tribune called The Stone Diaries a “universal study of what makes women tick.” With Larry’s Party Carol Shields has done the same for men.

Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator’s perception, irony, and tenderness. Larry’s Party gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997, that seamlessly flash backward and forward. We follow this young floral designer through two marriages and divorces, and his interactions with his parents, friends, and a son. Throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes—so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, Larry moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties, and the lean, mean nineties, completing at last his quiet, stubborn search for self.

Larry’s odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy, and faultless wisdom.

Book:The Projectionist

The Projectionist

Michael Helm

Book:Where She Has Gone

Where She Has Gone: A Novel

Nino Ricci

Set in Toronto and Italy, this powerful sequel to In a Glass House explores the sometimes forbidden aspect of desire and one’s longing for what is unrecoverable.

Victor Innocente remeets his half-sister in Toronto, shortly after his father’s death. Uneasy with their new proximity in each other’s lives, they are at first restrained. But gradually what is unspoken between them comes closer to the surface, setting in motion a course of events that will take Victor back to Valle del Sole in Italy, the place of his birth. It is there, where the story had its strange beginning twenty years earlier, that he confronts his past, its secrets and its revelations.

Poignant, gripping, and written in luminous, highly charged prose, Where She Has Gone is an unforgettable novel—for its vivid portrayal of character and place, and for its extraordinarily moving encounter with the past.

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