Where are Canada's heavy hitting literary lights on the Giller longlist? Nowhere to be found. Which leads me to believe the Giller Prize is determined to stay relevant and to acknowledge that Canada's literary landscape is changing.
True, our biggest stars - Ondaatje, Atwood and others like them - didn't release fiction this year. But that, too, speaks to the changing picture. Time was our publishing houses wouldn't dare go a full 365 days without a guaranteed bestseller.
The Giller jury - Roddy Doyle, Anna Porter, Gary Shtenygart - even went so far as to snub two previous winners. Linden MacIntyre's Why Men Lie and Vincent Lam's debut novel The Headmaster's Wager failed to qualify.
This years longlist includes Y, by Marjorie Celona (Hamish Hamilton), a debut novel, something that rarely occurs, Everybody Has Everything by NOW cover girl Katrina Onstad, a writer on the hip side not necessarily attended to by the Giller jury, and Billie Livingston's One Good Hustle, a small, gritty book, the kind the Giller used to pass over.
Will Ferguson must be in shock. He's also tapped for 419, a book that takes him out of his comic comfort zone. Robert Hough made the list for Dr. Brinkley's Tower, a surprise to me since, though it's entertaining, it doesn't have much heft.
Also nominated: Kim Thúy's beautiful poetic piece Ru which I'm betting makes the shortlist.
Here are the rest of the longlisters:
Lauren B. Davis for her novel Our Daily Bread, published by HarperCollins Canada
Cary Fagan for his short story collection My Life Among the Apes, published by Cormorant Books
Annabel Lyon for her novel The Sweet Girl, published by Random House Canada
Alix Ohlin for her novel Inside, published by House of Anansi Press
CS Richardson for his novel The Emperor of Paris, published by Doubleday Canada
Nancy Richler for her novel The Imposter Bride, published by HarperCollins Canada
Russell Wangersky for his short story collection Whirl Away, published by Thomas Allen Publishers