Of all the literary juries, the panel for Governor General Award is the last you'd expect to give tons of props to Toronto writers. GG adjudicators usually like to highlight Canada's diversity, unearthing worthy nominees, many of whom have flown under the radar, from all across the country.
But this year's list for fiction includes three Toronto books - Vincent Lam's The Headmaster's Wager, Robert Hough's Dr. Brinkley's Tower and The Purchase by Linda Spalding, who also appears on the Writers' Trust shortlist. Contrast that with this year's Giller shortlist where Toronto writers number exactly zero.
And get this: the other GG shortlisters - The Juliet Stories by Carrie Snyder and Tamas Dobozy's Seige 13, also on the Writers' Trust list - are both from Ontario.
Only Spalding, Dobozy and Alix Ohlin (Inside) appear on more than one of the major shortlists. You could say that speaks to the rich array of fiction in this country, and I'm always happy to see juries spread the wealth, but not all the GG shortlisters come close to making my best-of list.
Lam's first novel, the follow-up to his Giller-winning short stories, is a real page-turner but, it's got a distracting, soapy quality, and Hough's story, though big fun, is laced with stock characters - near stereotypes - not the kind of thing the GG jury usually goes for.
For a complete list of nominees in all categories, including non-fiction, drama - NOW cover girl Anusree Roy is nominated for Brothel #9 - children's lit, poetry and more, go to ggbooks.canadacouncil.ca/en.