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October 4, 1994

Canada's Premier Prize for Fiction Names Its Finalists

TORONTO - Today, in a morning press conference that drew over 100 media and members of the publishing industry, the newly established Giller Prize announced its inaugural shortlist.

The largest annual prize for fiction in the country, The Giller Prize awards $25,000 each year to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English.

Selected by the jury panel, comprised of authors Alice Munro and Mordecai Richler and editor/academic David Staines, the finalists were chosen from over 85 books submitted for consideration. Those books were submitted by 36 publishers, from eight provinces and every region of the country.

Jack Rabinovitch, who founded the Prize in memory of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, spoke at the press conference. In his speech, he affirmed his intention to make The Giller Prize synonymous with great Canadian literature, as The Booker Prize is to writing in the Commonwealth and the Prix Goncourt is to writing in France. With strong marketing plans, including national newspaper advertising, extensive publicity efforts, and promotion in bookstores across the country, The Giller Prize is poised to make a major contribution to fiction in Canada.

Speaking on behalf of the jury, David Staines named the finalists.

The finalists will be honoured and a winner will be announced at a gala black-tie dinner and awards ceremony, to be held at Toronto's Four Season's Hotel on the evening of Wednesday, November 2nd, 1994.


Bonnie Burnard
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
In this collection of nine stories, the reader sees the painful collision of youthful innocence and the bleak wisdom of age; the ironies of love and the complexities of sexuality. Several stories experiment with time and the random intersection of lives, becoming explorations of the pattern and texture of everyday experience. Written with honesty and an unforgiving eye, Casino & Other Stories is wry and intelligent, human and moving.
Bonnie Burnard's first collection of stories, Women of Influence, published in 1988 in Canada, England and Australia, won the Commonwealth Best First Book Award. She is a writer, creative writing teacher and reviewer whose work has been widely anthologized and dramatized on the CBC. She was the fiction editor of Grain magazine from 1982 to 1986, and has been an active member of several writers' organizations including the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild and the Writers' Union of Canada. Up until very recently, Burnard lived in Regina, Saskatchewan. She currently lives with her three teenaged children in southern Ontario.

Eliza Clark
Somerville House Publishing
When Terence Buddy Whelper opens the door to Dorene LaTisha Perney, his placid world is turned upside down. A would-be country backup singer, Dorene believes she has just electrocuted her cruel boyfriend Chad, and she turns to the kindness of strangers to stay one step ahead of the law. Suffused with the heady atmosphere of the American south, What You Need is peopled by a cast of real, quirky, unforgettable characters.
Eliza Clark's debut novel, Miss You Like Crazy, was shorlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour and the Ontario Trillium Book Award, and is already in its fourth printing. Her short stories have appeared in many literary journals and magazines. Eliza Clark lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Shyam Selvadurai
McClelland & Stewart
Funny Boy is the literary debut of 29-year-old novelist Shyam Selvadurai. Set in Sri Lanka, it is a haunting novel, told in six stories, about a boy growing up within an extended upper-middle class Tamil family in Colombo, during the seven years leading up to the 1983 riots. Selvadurai subtly juxtaposes a boy's passage to adolescence and maturity with the upheavals of growing political unrest. The result is a novel about discovery and leave-taking, while time and time again the true longings of the human heart come up against the way things are.
Shyam Selvadurai was born in 1965 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the age of 19, he emigrated to Canada with his family after the 1983 riots in Colombo. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Directing and Playwriting from York University in 1988. He has studied creative writing and magazine writing, written for television, and worked at a bookstore. Funny Boy is Selvadurai's first published book. He is currently working on his next novel, set in Sri Lanka, between 1848 and the early 1900's

M.G. Vassanji
McClelland & Stewart
The Book of Secrets, M.G. Vassanji's fourth work of fiction, opens in 1988, in Dar es Salaam, when the 1913 diary of a British colonial administrator is found in a shopkeeper's backroom. The diary enflames the curiosity of retired schoolteacher Pius Fernandes, and his exploration of the stories it contains gradually connects the past with the present. Vassanji brings alive vividly the landscapes, the towns and the cities of East Africa from the days of the Great War, through independence, all the way to the close of the eighties.
M.G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended M.I.T. in Massachusetts and he was a writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa in their prestigious International Writing Program. His previous novels are No New Land and The Gunny Sack, which won a Regional Commonwealth Prize. His most recent book was Uhuru Street, a collection of linked short stories. M.G. Vassanji lives in Toronto and is at work on his next novel.

Steve Weiner
The Overlook Press
Distributed by Penguin Books Canada
The Museum of Love traces the macabre and compelling journey of a young French-Canadian, Jean-Michel Verhaeren, from his oppressive hometown on the shores of Lake Superior across North America. His father is a morbid prison guard, his mother a mystical Catholic, his brother an adolescent saint and martyr, while he, Jean-Michel, is an innocent and receptive vessel, fiercely intelligent, anti-religious and tentatively homosexual. The Museum of Love captures family conflict, racial tension and homoerotic longing in its fevered, magic realist style.
Steve Weiner was born in Wisconsin in 1947. He studied writing at the University of California and went on to study film animation. He lives in Vancouver.

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