York film grad Will Ferguson (BFA Spec. Hons. ’90) has been named the 2012 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize forhis novel 419, published by Viking Canada/Penguin Canada.
The announcement was made Oct. 30 at a black-tie dinner and award ceremony hosted by Jian Ghomeshi (BA ’95). More than 500 members of the publishing, media and arts communities attended the gala.
The largest annual literary prize in the country, the Scotiabank Giller Prize awards $50,000 to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $5,000 to each of the finalists. This is the 19th year of the prize.
A shortlist of five authors and their books was announced on Oct. 1.
Those finalists were:
- Will Ferguson for his novel 419, published by Viking Canada/Penguin Canada
- Alix Ohlin for her novel Inside, published by House of Anansi Press
- Nancy Richler for her novel The Imposter Bride, published by HarperCollins Publishers
- Kim Thúy for her novel Ru, translated by Sheila Fischman, published by Random House Canada
- Russell Wangersky for his short story collection Whirl Away, published by Thomas Allen Publishers
The shortlist and ultimate winner were selected by a three-member jury made up of Irish author and screenwriter Roddy Doyle; Canadian publisher, writer and essayist Anna Porter; and American author and satirist Gary Shteyngart.
Of Ferguson’s book, the jury wrote:
“Will Ferguson’s 419 points in the direction of something entirely new: the Global Novel. It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America. It tells us the ways in which we are now bound together and reminds us of the things that will always keep us apart. It brings us the news of the world far beyond the sad, hungry faces we see on CNN and CBC and far beyond the spreadsheets of our pension plans. Ferguson is a true travel writer, his eye attuned to the last horrible detail. He is also a master at dialogue and suspense. It is tempting to put 419 in some easy genre category, but that would only serve to deny its accomplishment and its genius.”
A travel writer and novelist, Ferguson is the author of several award-winning memoirs, including Beyond Belfast, Hitching Rides with Buddha, and most recently the humour collection Canadian Pie. His novels include Happiness, Spanish Fly and 419.
Nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize, and a three-time winner of the Leacock Medal, Ferguson’s work has been published in more than 20 languages around the world.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize awards $50,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $5,000 to each of the finalists.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.