Annal: 2000 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 2000.

Book:Anil's Ghost

Anil's Ghost: A Novel

Michael Ondaatje

The time is our own time. The place is Sri Lanka, the island nation formerly known as Ceylon, off the southern tip of India, a country steeped in centuries of cultural achievement and tradition—and forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war and the consequences of a country divided against itself.

Into this maelstrom steps a young woman, Anil Tissera, born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to work with local officials to discover the source of the organized campaigns of murder engulfing the island.

Bodies are discovered. Skeletons. And particularly one, nicknamed ‘Sailor.’ What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity, about the unknown enemy, about the quest to unlock the hidden past—all propelled by a riveting mystery.

Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka’s landscape and ancient civilization, Anil’s Ghost is a literary spellbinder—the most powerful novel we have yet had from Michael Ondaatje.

Book:Mercy Among the Children

Mercy Among the Children: A Novel

David Adams Richards

Believing he may have accidentally killed a friend, Sydney Henderson makes a pact with God. If God will spare the boy’s life, Sydney will never again harm another human being.

In the years that follow, the self-educated, brilliant and now almost pathologically gentle Sydney holds true to his promise. Yet others in the small rural community in New Brunswick view Sydney’s pacifism as an opportunity to exploit and torment the defenseless Hendersons. Tragedy strikes when a small boy dies as a result of an act of sabotage and revenge gone horribly wrong. It is a death for which Sydney is blamed. Guilty only of being different, Sydney refuses to defend himself and his family. Raised on the books his father has long collected, Sydney’s son Lyle shares a deep respect for the power of words. But when he is forced to watch his family ridiculed and attacked, Lyle turns his back on God and literature, and adopts an aggressive strategy for…[more]

Book:Burridge Unbound

Burridge Unbound: A Novel

Alan Cumyn

After surviving a terrifying ordeal at the hands of terrorists in the South Pacific island of Santa Irene, Bill Burridge returns home to Ottawa and casts himself single-mindedly into building a human-rights organization to stand watch over the world’s most troubled areas. Yet, plagued by memories of his incarceration and by the strain of his disintegrating marriage, he is a man struggling to hold his life together. When a democratic revolution stands Santa Irene on a knife-edge between chaos and healing, Burridge reluctantly agrees to serve on a Truth Commission there to investigate past atrocities.

Taut, intelligent, and written in the compelling, often sardonic voice of Bill Burridge, Cumyn’s gripping novel immerses us in a shadowy world of betrayals and shifting loyalties, and reveals the intricate, rejuvenating bonds of human relationships. Bill Burridge’s voice is infectious, his story a remarkable one as the novel builds to its climactic final scenes.

Book:Monkey Beach

Monkey Beach: A Novel

Eden Robinson

Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different. Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can’t escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger.

Circling her brother’s tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie’s parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong…[more]

Book:A Student of Weather

A Student of Weather: A Novel

Elizabeth Hay

Maurice Dove is a visitor to the Saskatchewan farm of widower Ernest Hardy. The relationship he forms with Hardy’s daughters—the beautiful, virtuous Lucinda and the dark, intelligent, younger Norma-Joyce—gives rise to an act of betrayal that throws into relief the deep-rooted enmity between them. Norma-Joyce’s life, from the time she is eight, is fuelled by her obsessive (and unrequited) love for Maurice Dove. Later, in pursuing her life as an artist, she makes discoveries about her past that bring the story full-circle.

Hay’s evocation of place is palpable, vivid; her characters at once eccentric and familiar. Norma-Joyce, once a strange, dark, self-possessed child, becomes a woman who learns something of self-forgiveness and of the redemptive power of art. Hay’s writing is spare yet richly textured, dark and erotic. The physical and emotional landscapes she portrays evoke tragic and comic surprises, and teach us about the lasting imprint of first love.

Book:The Trade

The Trade

Fred Stenson

In 1822, Edward Harriott, a Hudson’s Bay Company clerk on the North Saskatchewan River, began his greatest adventure in the fur trade, an expedition to the Bow and Missouri Rivers in search of new sources of beaver. A young man, he was full of promise and full of love for his Metis cousin Margaret. But something went wrong. The expedition failed and the new fur trade Governor unfairly blamed Harriort. When the Governor took a fancy to Harriott’s Margaret, misfortune deepened into disaster.

Written between the lines of recorded history, The Trade fictionalizes the lives of Harriott and Margaret, of Harriott’s powerful friend Chief Factor One Pound One and of the enigmatic Jimmy Jock Bird, a former-Governor’s Metis son who left the Company orbit to become a war chief with the Missouri Piegan. As the wheel of history turns, they are joined by a Methodist missionary and by an artist from York who hopes to achieve fame through his depictions of fur trade life. Far from British justice, their lives are ruled by the price of beaver and the supply of buffalo meat, by notions of territory guaranteed only by threat and force, and by the Governor’s often vindictive exercise of power.

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