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April 18, 2012

Three for Bloomsbury on Orange shortlist

|By  Lisa Campbell

Ann Patchett

Bloomsbury has three titles on this year’s Orange Prize shortlist, while novels published by independent publishers account for five of the six nominations.

The Bloomsbury titles are Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Georgina Harding’s Painter of Silence. Two other indie titles come from the Canadian author Esi Edugyan with Half Blood Blues, published by Serpent’s Tail, while Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies is from Atlantic Books. The sole entrant from a Big Four publisher is Irish author Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, which is published by the Random House imprint Jonathan Cape.

Miller is the only début novelist on the shortlist and Ozick is the most published of the runners: Foreign Bodies is her seventh book.


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April 5, 2012

Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt nominated for Walter Scott Prize

  By Shannon Webb-Campbell

Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt will go head-to-head once again, this time for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, a U.K. literary award established in 2010.

Last year, the duo dominated the Canadian award circuit. Edugyan won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen Publishers) and deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (House of Anansi Press) took the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Literary Award. Both were shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, but lost to Julian Barnes.

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November 9, 2011

Esi Edugyan’s Novel Wins Big Canadian Fiction Prize


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By Leigh Anne Williams

Esi Edugyan’s novel Half-Blood Blues is this year’s winner of the C$50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s richest prize for fiction.

Although Edugyan’s book was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, as well as Canada’s other two prominent fiction awards, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction prize, the Victoria- based author still said she didn’t really expect to win and hadn’t prepared a speech beyond a few scrawled notes.
Pausing frequently to calm herself, Edugyan said she was honored to accept the prize and thanked her Canadian publisher Thomas Allen Publishers, particularly Patrick Crean. “He saved this book when it most needed saving, after Key Porter that wonderful Canadian house fell apart, he believed in the book and purchased it, and I’m so thankful for that.”
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October 23, 2011

Ignore the Booker brouhaha. Readability is no test for literature

Authors on the Booker prize shortlist: left to right, Carol Birch, Stephen Kelman, Patrick deWitt, Esi Edugyan and A. Miller. Photograph: Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

The Booker prize judges misunderstand literature and its purpose. Would they blame maths for being difficult?

By Jeanette Winterson

The Booker Best Pony in Show row is an annual event that at least lifts novels off the books pages and into the public debate. This year’s fight about readability tempts me to set up a new publishing house, funded by Sir Stelios. EasyBook could recruit the chair of the Booker judges, Stella Rimington, as CEO and offer a no-frills novel-reading experience that goes from A to B and does not tax the brain.

Nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of entertaining reads that are part of the enjoyment of life. That doesn’t make them literature. There is a simple test: “Does this writer’s capacity for language expand my capacity to think and to feel?”

Subject matter is not the point. It might be socially relevant, or it might not. It might be historical, science fiction, a love story, a crime novel, a meditation in fragments. There is no point judging a novel by its subject matter; what is in vogue now will be out of date soon. Nobody reads Jane Austen because we want her advice on marriage. And we don’t care that she lived right through the Napoleonic wars and never mentioned them once. Who cares about the Napoleonic wars now?

Novels that last are language-based novels – the language is not simply a means of telling a story, it is the whole creation of the story. If the language has no power – forget it.

The problem is that a powerful language can be daunting. James Joyce is hard work. Virginia Woolf’s The Waves is a very slow read. Schools teach language-friendly versions of Shakespeare.

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October 13, 2011

Ondaatje declines Governor General’s Literary Award consideration

Michael Ondaatje

By Sue Carter Flinn

Although there’s been much buzz over award newbies Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt’s impressive hat trick of nominations, another story unfolded today as Michael Ondaatje’s well-received The Cat’s Table was noticeably absent from this morning’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction shortlist.

According to his publisher, McClelland & Stewart, Ondaatje asked for The Cat’s Table, which is shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, to be withdrawn from consideration. more

October 12, 2011

Booker prize 2011: the shortlist

Interactive: A shortlist for the 2011 Booker prize

By Christine Oliver

A judging panel focused on ‘readability’ has produced a shortlist for the 2011 Man Booker prize which has been accused of populism by some. Julian Barnes is the only contender to have been previously shortlisted. He joins Carol Birch, second-time novelists Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan, as well as debutants Stephen Kelman and AD Miller on a Booker shortlist which has set bookshop tills ringing. Here we gather together audio, reviews, interviews and features so you can get fully acquainted with all the contenders

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October 7, 2011

Shortlist For Giller Revealed

By Leigh Anne Williams

The shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s richest prize for fiction, was announced Tuesday morning in Toronto. The finalists are: David Bezmozgis  The Free World (HarperCollins Canada); Michael Ondaatje  The Cat’s Table (McClelland & Stewart);
Lynn Coady The Antagonist (House of Anansi Press); Zsuzsi Gartner Better Living Through Plastic Explosives (Penguin Group Canada); Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (House of Anansi Press); and Esi Edugyan  Half-Blood Blues (Thomas Allen Publishers)
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July 14, 2011

Esi Edugyan’s top 10 tales of Americans in Europe

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:27 pm

By Esi Edugyan

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From Henry James to James Baldwin, the novelist chooses the best books exploring the New World’s romance with ‘that dazzling, elusive, imaginary place’ across the Atlantic.

“It’s a complicated affair, the attraction the New World feels for the Old. Europe’s been many things to Americans, over the shared span of their histories – a seat of both liberty and oppression, power and corruption, of art, literature, even language itself. By the dawn of the 20th century, Europe’s liberties were the liberties denied so many Americans, whether racial, sexual, or gender-specific. It doesn’t matter how much of it was true – for so many artists, Europe came to stand for all that was bohemian. You only needed to board a boat in order to live a freer life. This is the case in Half-Blood Blues, where jazz musicians in the 1920s travel to Berlin to ply their trade in the cabarets.

“The books listed below wrestle with this complicated vision of Europe – sometimes failing to find it, sometimes finding it altered, or not as sweet as it was said to be, and sometimes (sadly) discovering Europe was less a place than a moment in time. Not all of these books are, strictly speaking, ‘expat’ works. But each reckons with the complicated inheritance North Americans have had to come to terms with, and still do, when understanding their place in the world: with that dazzling, elusive, imaginary place called Europe.”

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