The Scotiabank Giller Prize has been handed out for 25 years, recognizing excellence in Canadian fiction. Not only does the recipient win the award, but they also get a cash prize of $100,000.00. Last night author Esi Edugyan took home the award for her novel Washington Black, which happened to be the second time she had won it.
The shortlist for the award was announced back at the start of October, with Patrick deWitt, Eric Dupont, Sheila Heti, Thea Lim and Edugyan all making the cut. The final winner was decided by a five-member jury, and in the end they selected Edugyan’s novel. Of it they said “How often history asks us to underestimate those trapped there. This remarkable novel imagines what happens when a black man escapes history’s inevitable clasp – in his case, in a hot air balloon no less. Washington Black, the hero of Esi Edugyan’s novel is born in the 1800s in Barbados with a quick mind, a curious eye, and a yearning for adventure. In conjuring Black’s vivid and complex world – as cruel empires begin to crumble and the frontiers of science open like astounding vistas – Edugyan has written a supremely engrossing novel about friendship and love and the way identity is sometimes a far more vital act of imagination than the age in which one lives.”
Edugyan’s first win came back in 2011 for her novel Half-Blood Blues, which was also a finalist for several other awards.