Dear Canadian Publishers,
We Americans are often portrayed as being completely ignorant of Canadian culture, and often are even disparaged as being dismissive. Yet when I set out to read the books shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, I was only able to access four out of six of them in my country. We are not that far away. We want to read good books. Please make them available to us as early as they are available to the avid readers in your own country. You will not be disappointed. Readers like me will spread the word and consume to the best of our abilities.
Jenny from Reading Envy
Now that my plea is out of the way, I have to be honest and say that I have only read four out of the six nominated books in their entirety. At one point this past week I was going to try purchasing The Antagonist by Lynn Coady but it was not even available on Amazon. As if they'd only bothered ordering five copies for all their American warehouses, and nobody thought to make a Kindle version available. At least that publisher had made the effort, and it seems as if the book distributors failed in that regard. I'm also seeing that the Gartner isn't easily available.
The good people at the Scotiabank Giller Prize website have made very brief samples of all six shortlisted titles available, so that is what I have used to weigh in on the Coady and the Edugyan. Hardly sufficient, and probably not accurate.
Here are my picks in the order that I would choose a winner!
1. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
Good combination of story with thoughtful commentary.
2. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
(oh, hello, we remember you from the Booker shortlist!)
Readable Western with a twist.
3. The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
This sounds like my kind of book, cyber stalkers and all, and I enjoyed the very brief sample I read.
4. Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
The sample wasn't really my thing, as I get bored easily reading novels about drugs, but maybe the entire thing isn't like the sample. Plus it was on the Booker list, so I'm guessing it has some kind of originality.
5. Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner
Great name, great first story, the rest were less memorable.
6. The Free World by David Bezmozgis
As I said in my earlier review, I wanted more from this novel.