March 28, 2023
Suzette Mayr wins the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Suzette Mayr wins the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Suzette Mayr accepts her award as the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner in Toronto, Monday, November 7, 2022.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Calgarian Suzette Mayr won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Sleeping Car Carrier, his sixth novel. The win is worth $100,000 for the 55-year-old author, who received a mouth-blown glass trophy in a glitzy televised ceremony in Toronto.

Published by Coach House Books, The sleeper doorr tells the story of a queer black train worker in the 1920s who must deal with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair.

“I think today I’m officially done with any feelings of impostor syndrome as a writer,” Ms. Mayr said in an emotional acceptance speech.

The author then addressed a “last cry” to any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and Two-Spirit people who were “still too scared to come out, or can’t come out because it would be too dangerous to do so. I see you, I love you and this book is for you.

About the winning book, the jury wrote: “Suzette Mayr brings to life – in a believable, painful and thrilling way – an entire world contained in a passenger train traversing the Canadian vastness nearly 100 years ago. As only happens in the best historical novels, every page of The Sleeping Car Carrier feels alive and immediate – and oddly contemporary.

The presentation of the most lucrative prize in Canadian literature took place during an in-person gala hosted by actress Sarah Gadon and poet Rupi Kaur, by an invitation-only black-tie crowd of 350 in the hall of Ball at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Attendees included writer John Irving, Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, CBC personality Ali Hassan, jazz singer Denzal Sinclaire, and filmmakers Atom Egoyan and Clement Virgo. Past Giller laureates in attendance were Margaret Atwood, Andre Alexis, Madeleine Thien and last year’s laureate Omar El Akkad, a former Globe and Mail journalist.

Also in attendance were friends and family of the late Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who launched the award in 1994 in honor of his late wife, journalist Doris Giller.

Those with the most stakes were the five shortlisted authors. Besides Ms. Mayr, Tsering Yangzom Lama (for her novel We measure the Earth with our bodies), Rawi Hage (for his collection of short stories Stray dogs), Noor Naga (for his novel If an Egyptian does not speak English) and Kim Fu (for his collection of short stories Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century). They each received $10,000 as finalists.

In the weeks leading up to the gala, the nominees had taken part in a cross-country tour. The annual Between the Pages series brought Giller finalists to literary-loving audiences in Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto for evenings of readings and discussions. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the authors to get to know each other,” Giller chief executive Elana Rabinovitch told The Globe and Mail ahead of the gala. “They even went to Peggy’s Cove to see the lighthouse.”

The tour also dipped south of the border. A standing-room event at the Canadian Consulate in New York was hosted by New York Times literary critic Alexandra Jacobs.

Ms. Mayr’s victory earns her membership in an exclusive club of 27 Giller Laureate Authors which includes MG Vassanj, Rohinton Mistry, Alice Munro, Austin Clarke, Vincent Lam, Lynn Coady and Esi Edugyan.

Mrs. Mayr’s 2011 novel Monoceros was shortlisted for a Giller, shortlisted for a Ferro-Grumley Prize for LGBT Fiction and won the ReLit Award, which recognizes Canadian independent publishers. his comic novel widows from 1998 was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best book in the Canada-Caribbean region.

The Sleeping Car Carrier was chosen as the best of the year by a Giller jury consisting of fellow Canadian authors Casey Plett, Kaie Kellough and Waubgeshig Rice, and American authors Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer. The book can expect an uptick in sales. After Giller’s victory last year, Mr. El Akkad What a strange paradise jumped onto The Globe and Mail’s bestseller list for Canadian fiction and stayed there for over two months.

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