The Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s richest prize for fiction, has a new democratic element. Readers now have an opportunity to vote for their favorite title. The C$50,000 prize has always been awarded by a jury from a shortlist drawn from books submitted by their publishers, and a few years ago, the prize began releasing a longlist. Now readers will be able to nominate their own choice from a list of all of the eligible titles published during the year. The book that gets the most votes will be given a place on the longlist.
Elana Rabinovitch, director of the prize, says the primary intent of the prize has always been to bring Canadian literature into the spotlight. Over the prize’s 18 year history, organizers have seen that “people have an opinion, sometimes a very strong opinion about the books,” she said. They have also wanted an opportunity to see a list of all of the eligible books published in that year, and it was gratifying to be able to provide that, she said of the prize’s new “Crazy for CanLit” feature.
“And then extrapolating on that idea, was giving people a voice to determine what they thought deserved to be one of the best books of the year. And that just naturally turned into this idea of “readers’ choice,” she said. The contest, which runs from Aug. 2 to 28, is being promoted by the Giller’s new television broadcast partner CBC. The publicly owned network is also hosting the contest on a micro-site of its website. Readers can vote for a book and also post their argument for a particular book. Those who participate have a chance to win weekly drawings for a Kobo eReader and a grand prize of two invitations to the Giller gala awards night on Nov. 8 with airfare to Toronto and accommodations at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
Rabinovitch says the response to the contest has been enthusiastic and more than 1,000 people voted in the first week. The longlist, including the new Readers’ Choice title, will be announced on Sept. 6.