Michael Helm’s latest book nominated for Scotiabank Giller Prize

York English Professor Michael Helm’s recent book Cities of Refuge is one of 13 to make this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize long list, announced Monday.

This is the second time one of Helm’s books has been nominated for the $50,000 award – the first was in 1997 for his debut novel The Projectionist (Douglas & McIntyre).

In Cities of Refuge (McClelland & Stewart, 2010), a single act of violence resonates through several lives, connecting close by fears to distant political terrors. At the story’s centre is the complex, intensely charged relationship between a 28-year-old woman and the father who abandoned her when she was young. (See YFile, May 11.)

Helm is in good company. David Bergen (The Matter with Morris) who won the Giller in 2005, Douglas Coupland (Player One) and Jane Urquhart (Sanctuary Line) are also on this year’s long list.

Left: Michael Helm. Photo by Alexandra Rockingham.

The list is a mix of new and established writers and includes Alexander MacLeod (son of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Alistair Macleod) for his debut short story collection Light Lifting, Avner Mandelman for The Debba, Tom Rachman for The Imperfectionists, Sarah Selecky for This Cake is for the Party, Johanna Skibsrud for The Sentimentalists, Cordelia Strube for Lemon, Joan Thomas for Curiosity, Dianne Warren for Cool Water and Kathleen Winter for Annabel.

Jury members CBC journalist Michael Enright, American author Claire Messud and United Kingdom writer Ali Smith call it a “vibrant and exciting list” chosen from 98 books, submitted by 38 publishers.

They wrote: “We came very harmoniously to our final decision, which, in the ranging of its featured books between astonishing debuts and brilliant new work by already well-known, major Canadian writers, and between the historical and the contemporary, the traditional and the experimental, the long, the short and the unexpected in both story and form, stands as a showcase in its own right of the vision, the energy, the internationalism and the open-eyed versatility of contemporary Canadian fiction.”

The short list will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 5.

For more information, visit the Scotiabank Giller Prize website.