November 2, 2000


TORONTO - At a gala dinner and award ceremony that drew over 450 members of the publishing industry and arts community, Michael Ondaatje and David Adams Richards were both named as the winners of The Giller Prize, Canada's premier literary prize for fiction. Michael Ondaatje's winning novel, Anil's Ghost, is published by McClelland & Stewart. David Adams Richards' novel, Mercy Among the Children, is published by Doubleday Canada. 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. This is the first year in the prize's seven year history that there have been two winners. Each will receive a $25,000 cheque. A shortlist of six finalists was announced on October 4, 2000.

Those finalists were:

  • Alan Cumyn for his novel Burridge Unbound, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Elizabeth Hay for her novel A Student of Weather, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • Michael Ondaatje for his novel Anil's Ghost, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • David Adams Richards for his novel Mercy Among the Children, published by Doubleday Canada
  • Eden Robinson for her novel Monkey Beach, published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada
  • Fred Stenson for his novel The Trade, published by Douglas & McIntyre

Selected by a distinguished jury panel, comprised of authors Margaret Atwood, Alistair MacLeod, and Jane Urquhart, the finalists were chosen from 62 books submitted for consideration.

Of Anil's Ghost, the jury remarked, "Against the lush and luminous background of Sri Lanka, a country torn by terrorism and civil war, Michael Ondaatje sets a journey of profound discoveries. Forensic pathologist Anil Tissera re-engages with her despoiled homeland while attempting the dangerous task of putting a name to the skull of an unknown man, thus naming his murderers. But there are personal betrayals and crimes of the heart at issue too in this richly-detailed, evocative, and many-stranded tale."

Of David Adams Richards' novel, the jury remarked, "In Mercy Among the Children the quests for love, truth, and spiritual certainty are themes as old as antiquity. Other issues such as the toxic poisoning of the land, the survival of the casually vicious, and the chasm between adoptees and biological parents are unsettling in their contemporary immediacy. Set in an area of New Brunswick labelled "the Stumps," this novel ultimately spills across all boundaries of time and place in prose as ruggedly beautiful as the subjects it describes."

MICHAEL ONDAATJE was born in Sri Lanka, and came to Canada in 1962. His published works include Coming Through Slaughter, which won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1976; There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do, which won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1980; In the Skin of a Lion, which won the City of Toronto Book Award and the Trillium Award, and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award; and The English Patient, which won The Governor General's Literary Award and the Booker Prize and was later made into a successful Academy Award-winning film. Michael Ondaatje lives in Toronto.

DAVID ADAMS RICHARDS is an award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction. Lines on the Water won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1998. He is well-known for his Miramichi trilogy: Nights Below Station Street, winner of the 1988 Governor General's Literary Award; Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace, winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award; and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down, winner of the Thomas Radall Award. His last novel was The Bay of Love and Sorrows, published in 1998. David Adams Richards now lives in Toronto with his wife and their two sons.

The Giller Prize was founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994 in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller.

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