Annal: 2008 Giller Prize for Fiction

Results of the Giller Prize in the year 2008.

Book:Through Black Spruce

Through Black Spruce: A Novel

Joseph Boyden

A haunting novel about identity, love, and loss by the author of Three Day Road'

Will Bird is a legendary Cree bush pilot, now lying in a coma in a hospital in his hometown of Moose Factory, Ontario. His niece Annie Bird, beautiful and self-reliant, has returned from her own perilous journey to sit beside his bed. Broken in different ways, the two take silent communion in their unspoken kinship, and the story that unfolds is rife with heartbreak, fierce love, ancient blood feuds, mysterious disappearances, fires, plane crashes, murders, and the bonds that hold a family, and a people, together. As Will and Annie reveal their secrets—the tragic betrayal that cost Will his family, Annie’s desperate search for her missing sister, the famous model Suzanne—a remarkable saga of resilience and destiny takes shape.

From the dangerous bush country of upper Canada to the drug-fueled glamour of the Manhattan club scene, Joseph Boyden…[more]

Book:Barnacle Love

Barnacle Love

Anthony De Sa

Like Wayson Choy and David Bezmozgis before him, Anthony De Sa captures, in stories brimming with life, the innocent dreams and bitter disappointments of the immigrant experience.

At the heart of this collection of intimately linked stories is the relationship between a father and his son. A young fisherman washes up nearly dead on the shores of Newfoundland. It is Manuel Rebelo who has tried to escape the suffocating smallness of his Portuguese village and the crushing weight of his mother’s expectations to build a future for himself in a terra nova. Manuel struggles to shed the traditions of a village frozen in time and to silence the brutal voice of Maria Theresa da Conceicao Rebelo, but embracing the promise of his adopted land is not as simple as he had hoped.

Manuel’s son, Antonio, is born into Toronto’s little Portugal, a world of colourful houses and labyrinthine back alleys.…[more]

Book:The Boys in the Trees

The Boys in the Trees: A Novel

Mary Swan

Newly arrived to the countryside, William Heath, his wife, and two daughters appear the picture of a devoted family. But when accusations of embezzlement spur William to commit an unthinkable crime, those who witnessed this affectionate, attentive father go about his routine of work and family must reconcile action with character. A doctor who has cared for one daughter, encouraging her trust, examines the finer details of his brief interactions with William, searching for clues that might penetrate the mystery of his motivation. Meanwhile the other daughter’s teacher grapples with guilt over a moment when fate wove her into a succession of events that will haunt her dreams.

In beautifully crafted prose, Mary Swan examines the volatile collisions between our best intentions—how a passing stranger can leave an indelible mark on our lives even as the people we know most intimately become alienated by tides of self-preservation and regret. In her nuanced, evocative descriptions a locket contains immeasurable…[more]
Book:Cockroach

Cockroach

Rawi Hage

One of the most highly anticipated novels of the year, Cockroach is as urgent, unsettling, and brilliant as Rawi Hage’s bestselling and critically acclaimed first book, De Niro’s Game. The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described “thief” has just tried but failed to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree in a local park. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naïve therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator’s violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoky émigré cafés where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen night-time streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but willfully blind, citizens who surround him.

Like De Niro’s Game, Cockroach combines an uncompromising vision of humanity with razor-sharp portraits of society’s outsiders, and a startling, poetic sensibility with bracing jolts of dark humour.

Book:Good to a Fault

Good to a Fault: A Novel

Marina Endicott

Absorbed in her own failings, Clara Purdy crashes her life into a sharp left turn, taking the young family in the other car along with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara—against all habit and comfort—moves the three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house.

We know what is good, but we don’t do it. In Good to a Fault, Clara decides to give it a try, and then has to cope with the consequences: exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love. But she must question her own motives. Is she acting out of true goodness, or out of guilt? Most shamefully, has she taken over simply because she wants the baby for her own?

What do we owe in this life, and what do we deserve? This compassionate, funny, and fiercely intelligent novel looks at life and death through grocery-store reading glasses: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance on the precipice.

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