Congratulations to Esi Edugyan, winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize! Edugyan’s win was announced at last night’s Giller gala. Half-Blood Blues, set amidst the jazz scene in Europe before and after the Second World War, has been greatly praised since its release and the Giller jury added to this acclaim, remarking “It’s conventional to liken the prose in novels about jazz to the music itself, as though there could be no higher praise. In this case, say rather that any jazz musician would be happy to play the way Edugyan writes.” The book was also nominated for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (English) and the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, recently won by Patrick deWitt.
Edugyan was a favourite of many bloggers and critics, along with Michael Ondaatje, nominated for this year’s The Cat’s Table. Ondaatje won the Giller in 2000 for Anil’s Ghost (along with David Adams Richards’ Mercy Among the Children). But the other nominees were extremely accomplished as well: deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, David Bezmozgis’ The Free World, Lynn Coady’s The Antagonist and Zsuzsi Gartner’s Better Living Through Plastic Explosives rounded out a shortlist widely acknowledged as one of the strongest in years.