Here it is: Fifteen Dogs, the book that won the Giller!(Which, for the record, I totally called.)
The place: a Toronto bar.
The players: Hermes and Apollo, somehow not quite out of place in a Toronto bar.
The bet: if granted human intelligence, might dogs be able to live happy lives – and die happy? Or is happiness naturally unable to coexist with the same sentience that makes humans, well, human?
That’s the book in a nutshell. Can dogs die happy? I knew going into it that it was going to break my heart in half and stomp on the pieces.
Which is why I was kind of surprised – and a little disappointed – when it didn’t.
“I am young and I believe that I know what I ought to do, I believe that I can get free and make my own way. Though it is only Death opening its clothes to me and saying: Look close.“
I’ve been in a weird Wild West / frontier fiction phase* so I was immediately sold on this novel: sharp and searing prose, the life and times of Daniel Boone, and a Giller longlister to boot.
First of all, it has one of the best openings I’ve read all year:
“The Dentist’s waiting room shaped Martin John’s life. A simple room, nothing to suggest it contained the almighty power it did.”
I have a lot of thoughts about this book. The first: I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes the Giller. The second: I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.
This book in a nutshell:
Short stories, some funny and some sad but mostly sad; Giller Prize shortlister this year; whimsical tales with a whiff of magic realism; sweet and subtle CanLit in tiny, flavourful bites.
Other works and awards from Heather O’Neill:
- Lullabies for Little Criminals (Canada Reads winner in 2007, Governor General’s Award shortlister 2007)
- The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (Giller Prize shortlister 2014)
Giller season! Giller season! Giller season!
I’ve never been so impatient for a short list in my life. Despite only working my way through two of the long-listed works so far, I had a couple of predictions about how things were going to go down. This morning’s announcement held a few surprises but also fulfilled a few expectations. Not a bad mix at all!
(Click on a cover for the Goodreads link.)
Brace yourselves: Giller long-lister The Winter Family is a roaring ride through violence.
The fastest guns in the west? Check. Murderers for hire? Check. Psychopathic soldiers, vengeful slaves, and civil war atrocities? Check, check, check.
Then, of course, we have Augustus Winter himself: the man with the golden eyes and a heart as cold as a Minnesota snowstorm.
Let’s talk about the Gillers!
I’m a grad student at a Canadian university studying in an English department, so the Giller Prize – celebrating the best Canadian fiction of the publishing year – is my jam.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Giller season with the long list reveal, and all and all it looks like a good mix: some short stories, some funny books, some sad books, and at least one translation that I could spot.
I expected to recognize more titles, but then again I haven’t had my socks knocked off by any CanLit yet this year. The result: a reading list of diverse and well-written Canadian fiction, just in time for fall!
God, I love the Gillers.