The 2002 Giller Prize - Shortlist
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The Polished Hoe unravels over twenty-four hours and spans the lifetime of one woman, Mary-Mathilda, in the post-colonial West Indian island of Bimshire in 1952. The novel begins with Mary-Mathilda confessing to the murder of Mr. Bellfeels, the village plantation owner for whom she has worked for over thirty years and with whom she has been having a long-standing affair. Through Mary's words and recollections, The Polished Hoe provides a deep meditation on the power of memory and the indomitable strength of the human spirit and evokes the tragic richness of Island culture.
The twelve stories in this collection are linked by the "Mount Appetite" of the title: the common theme of yearning and seeking, often involving addiction to substances, people, and schemes of the heart. The protagonists struggle to satiate their desires by indulging in alcohol and other vices or, alternatively, scorning those who do. The book is marked by a range of colourful characters, from the illiterate faith healer in New Brunswick to the articulate and illegitimate son of Malcolm Lowry in B.C. A wry and witty collection, Mount Appetite is candid, personal, and unabashed.
The Navigator of New York tells the story of Devlin Stead and his quest to find his origins, set against the background of the tumultuous rivalry between Lieutenant Peary and Dr. Cook to get to the North Pole at the beginning of the 20th century. Caught up in the mystery of who his parents really were, Devlin, at the age of twenty, sails to a New York that is bursting with frenzied energy. There he becomes protégé to Dr. Cook who is restlessly preparing for his next expedition. Eventually, he accompanies Cook on his epic race to reach the Pole before the arch-rival Peary and the journey plunges Devlin into worldwide controversy - and decides his fate.
Lisa Moore's short story collection, Open captures the interconnectedness of a bus ride in Nepal and a wedding on the shore of the Quidi Vidi Lake; a husband's memory of an early, piercing love affair; a mother and her infant boy knocked down by the force of a fire hose. Open demonstrates Moore's gift for language and for weaving images together to create a truly realistic depiction of the special moments in our lives that confront love, mistakes and loss and both the joy and fear these can bring.
Reta Winters has many reasons to be happy: her three almost grown daughters; her twenty-year relationship with their father; her work translating the larger-than-life French intellectual and feminist Danielle Westerman; her modest success with a novel of her own, and the clamour of her American publisher for a sequel. Then in the spring of her forty-fourth year, her eldest daughter Norah suddenly runs from the family and ends up mute and begging on a Toronto street corner, with a hand-lettered sign reading GOODNESS around her neck. With the inconceivable loss of her daughter like a lump in her throat, Reta tackles the mystery of this message. What in this world has broken Norah, and what could bring her back to the safety of home?