November 4 , 2003
Canada's Premier Prize for Fiction Names a Winner

TORONTO - At a gala dinner and award ceremony that drew over 500 members of the publishing, media and arts communities, M.G. Vassanji was named the 2003 winner of The Giller Prize, Canada’s premier literary prize for fiction, now celebrating its 10th year. Vassanji’s winning novel, The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, 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. A shortlist of five finalists was announced on October 2, 2003. Those finalists were:

  • Margaret Atwood for her novel Oryx and Crake, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • John Bemrose for his novel The Island Walkers, published by McClelland & Stewart
  • John Gould for his short story collection Kilter: 55 Fictions, published by Turnstone Press
  • Ann-Marie MacDonald for her novel The Way the Crow Flies, published by Knopf Canada
  • M.G. Vassanji for his novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, published by Doubleday Canada

More on the Finalists

Selected by a distinguished jury panel comprised of jurist Rosalie Silberman Abella, scholar and academic David Staines and author Rudy Wiebe, the finalists were chosen from 97 eligible books.

Of the winning book, the jury remarked: “M.G. Vassanji’s The In-Between World of Vikram Lall is the powerful and haunting story of an Indian family living in the turbulence of an emergent Kenya. Through the eyes of the central character, Vikram Lall, a middle-aged man now exiled to a small Ontario town, we read an astonishing tapestry of irresistible vignettes, brilliantly exploring the painful lessons of history - national, culture and personal - amidst the fragility of human relationships. Drawing simultaneously both Vikram’s and his country’s revolution, the novel chronicles his own evolution against a mesmerizing literary landscape replete with luminous memories, fascinating characters and inspiring prose.”

M.G. Vassanji was born in Kenya and raised in Tanzania. Before coming to Canada in 1978, he attended M.I.T., and later was writer in residence at the University of Iowa. Vassanji is the author of four acclaimed novels: The Gunny Sack (1989), which won a regional Commonwealth Prize; No New Land (1991); The Book of Secrets (1994), which won the inaugural Giller Prize as well as The Bressani Prize; and Amrika (1999) He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Uhuru (1992). M.G. Vassanji lives in Toronto with his wife and two sons.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Prize, a stunning 300-lb steel sculpture, created by B.C. artist Cory Fuhr, was presented to Jack Rabinovitch by CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers. The commissioning of the sculpture was made possible by the Canadian Publishers’ Council and the Association of Canadian Publishers through the generous donations of their members.

The award ceremony was broadcast this year live on Bravo! NewStyleArtsChannel, Book Television: The Channel, and CBC Television

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

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