Two York alumni make the Giller Prize long list

Kim Echlin and Jeanette Lynes, each clutching a fistful of York degrees, are two of 12 nominees on the long list announced this week for the annual Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Echlin (MA ’77, PhD ’82) is a candidate for the $50,000 award for her third novel, The Disappeared (Hamish Hamilton Canada, 2009), while Lynes (BA Spec. Hons. ’79, MA ’80, PhD ’88) is up for her first novel, The Factory Voice (Coteau Books, 2009).

Right: Jeanette Lynes

An award-winning author, Lynes has published half a dozen collections of her poetry. She has also edited or appeared in several anthologies. Lynes has served as writer-in-residence in Saskatoon and in Dawson Creek, BC. She is currently an English and women’s studies professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS.

Her book, The Factory Voice revolves around the lives and dreams of four vital, engaging women and a series of mysterious events at a Fort William military aircraft factory in 1941. Something’s gone wrong with the Mosquitoes being built for the war effort – they keep crashing in flight tests, for no apparent reason. Loyalty and betrayal, love and worthiness, friendship and ambition are the themes which connect the characters.

Echlin, nominated for The Disappeared, is also the author of Elephant Winter, Dagmar’s Daughter (Viking Press, 2001) and Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer (Groundwood Books, 2003). After completing her doctoral thesis on Ojibwa storytelling, Echlin travelled in search of stories through the Marshall Islands, China, France and Zimbabwe. Back in Canada, she became an arts documentary producer with CBC’s "The Journal". Her first novel, Elephant Winter, won the TORGI Talking Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award.

Right: Kim Echlin

The Disappeared tells the story of Anne Greves, from Montreal, who meets Serey, a Cambodian student forced into exile when he cannot return home during Pol Pot’s time of terror. Anne and Serey meet in a jazz club where their shared passion for music turns into a passion for each other, against the will of her father.

But when the borders of Cambodia open, Serey is compelled to return home, alone, to try to find his family. Left behind, and without word from her lover, Anne tries to build a new life but she cannot forget her first love. She decides to travel to the war-ravaged country that claimed Serey. What she finds there is a traumatized and courageous people struggling to create new freedoms out of the tragedy that claimed their traditional ways, their livelihood and a seventh of their population.

Sharing the 12-member long list – selected from 96 submissions – are Kate Pullinger for The Mistress of Nothing, Shani Mootoo for Valmiki’s Daughter, Anne Michaels for The Winter Vault, Colin McAdam for Fall, Linden MacIntyre for The Bishop’s Man, Annabel Lyon for The Golden Mean, Paulette Jiles for The Color of Lightning, Claire Holden Rothman for The Heart Specialist, Martha Baillie for The Incident Report and Margaret Atwood for The Year of the Flood.

The 2009 Giller Prize short list will be announced on Oct. 6. Timing of the final selection will be announced later.

Novelist and short story writer Russell Banks, UK author and journalist Victoria Glendinning and Canadian writer and University of Windsor Professor Emeritus Alistair MacLeod make up this year’s jury.

For more information, visit the Scotiabank Giller Prize Web site.