Annal: 2004 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 2004.

Book:Runaway

Runaway: Stories

Alice Munro

In Alice Munro’s superb new collection, we find stories about women of all ages and circumstances, their lives made palpable by the subtlety and empathy of this incomparable writer.

The runaway of the title story is a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband. In “Passion,” a country girl emerging into the larger world via a job in a resort hotel discovers in a single moment of stunning insight the limits and lies of that mysterious emotion. Three stories are about a woman named Juliet—in the first, she escapes from teaching at a girls’ school into a wild and irresistible love match; in the second she returns with her child to the home of her parents, whose life and marriage she finally begins to examine; and in the last, her child, caught, she mistakenly thinks, in the grip of a religious cult, vanishes into an unexplained and profound silence. In the final story, “Powers,” a young…[more]

Book:All That Matters

All That Matters

Wayson Choy

Kiam-Kim is three years old when he arrives by ship at Gold Mountain with his father and his grandmother, Poh-Poh, the Old One. It is 1926, and because of famine and civil war in China, they have left their village in Toishan province to become the new family of Third Uncle, a wealthy businessman whose own wife and son are dead. The place known as Gold Mountain is Vancouver, Canada, and Third Uncle needs help in his large Chinatown warehouse. Canada’s 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act forces them, and many others, to use false documents, or ghost papers, to get past the ‘immigration demons’ and become Third Uncle’s Gold Mountain family.

This is the beginning of All That Matters, the eagerly anticipated sequel to Wayson Choy’s bestselling first novel, The Jade Peony. The author takes us once again to the Vancouver of the 1930s and 1940s to follow the lives of the Chen…[more]

Book:Beyond Measure

Beyond Measure

Pauline Holdstock

The artistic world of mid-16th Century Italy comes to life through the eyes of a piebald slave stolen from her home and family in Africa.

Chiara, as she is eventually named, is sold to Paolo Pallavicino, an artist in service of Giuliano de Medici. When several unfortunate incidents occur, the artist’s wife believes her to be a curse and demands that she be sent away. From this starting point, Chiara works her way from painter to painter, observing the games the artists play on each other and the rivalries that fuel their artistic creations.

I am not beautiful, this much I know.You have to understand about my face. I am not fair. To find myself here with his eyes upon me, who am not beautiful. All my life an ugly creature as low as the spotted cow in the barn, the brindled bitch beneath the table. It is important not to look at his face while he is looking at me. Look at the cat outside the window. Forget that he is looking. If I do not forget, I shall die for shame.
Book:A Complicated Kindness

A Complicated Kindness: A Novel

Miriam Toews

“Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing,” Nomi Nickel tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her sad, peculiar father, her days are spent piecing together why her mother and sister have disappeared and contemplating her inevitable career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken slaughterhouse on the outskirts of East Village. Not the East Village in New York City where Nomi would prefer to live, but an oppressive town founded by Mennonites on the cold, flat plains of Manitoba, Canada.

This darkly funny novel is the world according to the unforgettable Nomi, a bewildered and wry sixteen-year-old trapped in a town governed by fundamentalist religion and in the shattered remains of a family it destroyed. In Nomi’s droll, refreshing voice, we’re told the story of an eccentric, loving family that falls apart as each member lands on a collision course with the only community any of them have ever known. A work of fierce humor and tragedy by a writer who has taken the American market by storm, this searing, tender, comic testament to family love will break your heart.

Book:Galveston: A Novel

Galveston: A Novel

Paul Quarrington

Few people seek out the tiny Caribbean island of Dampier Cay. Visitors usually wash up there by accident, rather than by design. But this weekend, three people will fly to the island deliberately. They are not coming for a tan or fun in the sun. They are coming because Dampier Cay is where it is, and they have reason to believe that they might encounter something there that most people take great measures to avoid—a hurricane.

A lottery windfall and a few hours of selfishness have robbed Caldwell of all that was precious to him, while Beverly, haunted by tragedy and screwed by fate since birth, has given up on life. Also on the flight is Jimmy Newton, a professional storm chaser and videographer who will do anything for the perfect shot. Waiting for them at Dampier is the manager of the Water’s Edge Hotel, “Bonefish” Maywell Hope, who arrived at Dampier by the purest accident of all—the accident of birth. A descendent…[more]

Book:The Tiger Claw

The Tiger Claw

Shauna Singh Baldwin

When Noor Khan’s father, a teacher of mystical Sufism, dies, Noor is forced to bow, along with her mother, sister and brother, to her uncle’s religious literalism and ideas on feminine propriety. While at the Sorbonne, Noor falls in love with Armand, a Jewish musician. Though her uncle forbids her to see him, they continue meeting in secret.

When the Germans invade in 1940, Armand persuades Noor to leave him for her own safety. She flees with her family to England, but volunteers to serve in a special intelligence agency. She is trained as a radio operator for the group that, in Churchill’s words, will “set Europe ablaze” with acts of sabotage. She is then sent back to Occupied France. Unwavering courage is what Noor requires for her assignment and her deeply personal mission—to re-unite with Armand. As her talisman, she carries her grandmother’s gift, an heirloom tiger claw encased in gold. …[more]

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