Annal: 1998 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 1998.

Book:The Love of a Good Woman

The Love of a Good Woman: Stories

Alice Munro

In eight new stories, a master of the form extends and magnifies her great themes—the vagaries of love, the passion that leads down unexpected paths, the chaos hovering just under the surface of things, and the strange, often comical desires of the human heart.

Time stretches out in some of the stories: a man and a woman look back forty years to the summer they met—the summer, as it turns out, that the true nature of their lives was revealed. In others time is telescoped: a young girl finds in the course of an evening that the mother she adores, and whose fluttery sexuality she hopes to emulate, will not sustain her—she must count on herself.

Some choices are made—in a will, in a decision to leave home—with irrevocable and surprising consequences. At other…[more]

Book:Childhood

Childhood: A Novel

André Alexis

Childhood is Andre Alexis’s picaresque and stunning debut novel. It features Thomas Macmillan, a Canadian with ties to Trinidad, who pieces together—from memory and from related stories—the early years of his life.

Raised in Petrolia, a small town in southern Ontario near the U.S. border, Thomas is abandoned by his mother to the care of an eccentric grandmother. When he reaches the age of nine, his mother Katarina and a Mr. Mataf take him on a pilgrimage to Ottawa, where they live in the Victorian home of Mr. Henry Wing, a magus-like figure, whose love of science and the imagination becomes an important legacy for Thomas.

Set in the 1950s and early 1960s, Childhood is daring, intelligent, profoundly moving, laced with humor, and tinged with longing. It signals the emergence of a supremely talented writer and storyteller, whose gifts for drawing memorable characters and for infusing place with a sense of wonder and immediacy are equal to the bold ambition of his novel’s title.

Book:The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel

Wayne Johnston

“The Colony of Unrequited Dreams” is Newfoundland—that vast, haunting near-continent upon which the two lovers and adversaries of this miraculously inventive novel pursue their ambitions.

Joey Smallwood, sprung from almost Dickensian privation, is a scholarship boy at a private school, where his ready wit bests the formidably tart-tongued Sheilagh Fielding. Their dual fates become forever linked by an anonymous letter to a local paper critical of the school—a letter whose mysterious authorship will weigh heavily on their lives.

Driven by socialist dreams and political desire, Smallwood will walk a railroad line the breadth of Newfoundland in a journey of astonishing power and beauty, to unionize the workers—and make his name. Fielding, now a popular newspaper columnist, provides—in her journalism, her diaries, and her bleakly hilarious “Condensed History of Newfoundland”—a satirical and eloquent…[more]

Book:The Healer

The Healer

Greg Hollingshead

When Tim Wakelin, recently a widower, heads north in search of a story about a local healer named Caroline Troyer, he enters a world that is real yet strange. Familiar landmarks disappear and extraordinary events unfold as his life becomes intertwined with hers. Even the landscape itselfthe ancient rocks, myriad lakes, and cathedral forests of the Canadian Shieldbecomes a source of threat. How can he understand this strange and beautiful woman when he is no longer sure why he has really come or what is happening to him?

Until now, Caroline’s life has been dominated by her parents: her cunning father, Ross, who has exerted an unspoken power over her since she was a child; and Ardis, her weak yet abusive mother. Aware that her ability to heal is only part of a mysterious process of transformation that she is undergoing, Caroline must break free of the chains of her family. Perhaps Tim can provide…[more]

Book:A Recipe for Bees

A Recipe for Bees: A Novel

Gail Anderson-Dargatz

“In the late summer, hives full of ripening honey emitted a particular scent, like the whiff of sweetness Augusta used to catch passing by the candy-apple kiosk at the fall fair.”

Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s beautiful new novel is saturated with bee lore, rich domestic detail, wondrous imagery culled from rural kitchens and gardens, and shining insights into family and friendship. And at its heart are the life, death, and resurrection of an extraordinary marriage.

A Recipe for Bees introduces a remarkable and engaging heroine whose quest for love and independence spans a lifetime. Augusta Olsen has attitude, a wicked funny bone, a generous and wayward heart, and the gift of second sight.

When her mother dies, Augusta is bereft and without direction until she marries her first suitor, Karl, the shy son of…[more]

Book:The White Bone

The White Bone: A Novel

Barbara Gowdy

If, as many recent nonfiction bestsellers have revealed, animals possess emotions and awareness, they must also have stories. In The White Bone, a novel imagined entirely from the perspective of African elephants, Barbara Gowdy creates a world whole and separate that yet illuminates our own.

For years, young Mud and her family have roamed the high grasses, swamps, and deserts of the sub-Sahara. Now the earth is scorched by drought, and the mutilated bodies of family and friends lie scattered on the ground, shot down by ivory hunters. Nothing-not the once familiar terrain, or the age-old rhythms of life, or even memory itself-seems reliable anymore. Yet a slim prophecy of hope is passed on from water hole to water hole: the sacred white bone of legend will point the elephants toward the Safe Place. And so begins a quest through Africa’s vast and perilous plains-until at last the survivors face a decisive trial of loyalty…[more]

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