Annal: 2003 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 2003.

Book:The In-Between World of Vikram Lall

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall: A Novel

M.G. Vassanji

Born in colonial Kenya, Vikram Lall comes of age at the same moment as the colony, which in 1953 is celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II even as the Mau Mau independence movement is challenging British rule. But while Kenya is being torn apart by idealism, doubt and violent political upheaval, Vic and his sister Deepa begin to search for their place in the world. Neither colonists nor African, neither white nor black, the Indian brother and sister find themselves somewhere in between in their band of playmates: Bill and Annie, British children, and Njoroge, an African boy. These are the friendships that will haunt the rest of their lives.

We follow Vic from a changing Africa in the fifties, to the sixties—a time of immense promise. But when that hope is betrayed by the corruption and fear of the seventies and eighties, Vic finds himself drawn into the Kenyatta government’s orbit…[more]

Book:The Island Walkers

The Island Walkers: A Novel

John Bemrose

“Across a bend of Ontario’s Attawan River lies the Island, a small, working-class neighborhood of whitewashed houses and vine-freighted fences, black willows and decaying sheds. Here, for generations, the Walkers have lived among the other mill workers.”

The family’s troubles begin in the summer of 1965, when a union organizer comes to town and Alf Walker is forced to choose between loyalty to his friends at the mill and advancement up the company ranks. Alf’s worries are aggravated by his wife, Margaret, who has never reconciled her middle-class English upbringing with her blue-collar reality. And as the summer passes, Joe, their son, is also forced to reckon with his family’s standing when he falls headlong for a beautiful newcomer—a girl far beyond him, with greater experience and broader horizons.

As the threat of mill closures looms, the Walkers grapple with their personal crises, just as the rest of the town fights to protect its way of life amid the risks of unionization and the harsh demands of corporate power.

Book:Kilter

Kilter: 55 Fictions

John Gould

A young woman puzzles over the identity of her lost brother; a husband cites a sixteenth-century portrait to explain his lover to his wife; a dead man laments the suicide note he failed to write. With spare, elegant prose Gould crafts quirky gems, compact fusions of humour and pathos. His fictions are full of individuals catching odd glimpses of themselves, of big ideas working themselves out in the minutiae of modern lives.

A t the centre of this varied collection is a coherent vision, a vision of human beings as paradoxical creatures—finite creatures haunted by infinite longings. If this vision is the piñata, each piece is a wildly different whack at it. Gould’s writing is serious, joyful and supple, constantly seeking out a fresh voice, a new angle of illumination. Call them sudden or flash, each of these finely wrought works gives us a pure moment, a fulcrum from which we witness a life tilting from kilter to off-kilter and back again.

Book:Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake: A Novel

Margaret Atwood

A stunning and provocative new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize, Margaret Atwood’s new novel is so utterly compelling, so prescient, so relevant, so terrifyingly-all-too-likely-to-be-true, that readers may find their view of the world forever changed after reading it. With breathtaking command of her shocking material and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into a conceivable future of our own world, an outlandish yet wholly believable place left devastated in the wake of ecological and scientific disaster and populated by characters who will continue to inhabit your dreams long after the book is closed. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers. For readers of Oryx and Crake, nothing will ever look the same again.

Book:The Way the Crow Flies

The Way the Crow Flies: A Novel

Ann-Marie MacDonald

In her highly anticipated new novel, Ann-Marie MacDonald takes us back to a postwar world. For Madeleine McCarthy, high-spirited and eight years old, her family’s posting to a quiet air force base near the Canadian-American border is at first welcome, secure as she is in the love of her family and unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in his own web of secrets. The early sixties, a time of optimism infused with the excitement of the space race and overshadowed by the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of a child as Madeleine draws us into her world.

But the base is host to some intriguing inhabitants, including the unconventional Froehlich family, and the odd Mr. March, whose power over the children is a secret burden that they carry. Then tragedy strikes, and a very local murder intersects with global forces, binding the participants for life. As the tension in the McCarthys’ household builds, Jack must decide where his…[more]

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