Jack Rabinovitch, the Canadian commercial real estate agent who founded The Giller Prize, died on Sunday. He was 87. The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 to honor his deceased wife Doris Giller, a former literary editor at the Toronto Star, and offered a C$25,000 cash prize to the top work of Canadian fiction written in English.
Today, it is considered Canada’s preeminent literary prize and the award ceremony is broadcast live on CBC television. Since 2005, it has been sponsored by Scotiabank and now gives C$100,000 ($80,000) to the winner and C$10,000 ($8,000) to each shortlisted author.
The prize was conceived, Rabinovitch said, over a plate of chopped liver at Montreal pub while he was in conversation with the novelist Mordecai Richler. Asked what immediately distinguished the Giller from other Canadian literary prizes, such as the Governor General's Literary Awards, Rabinovitch said " It was an idea that grew out of a relationship with a woman that I wanted to celebrate in a meaningful way. Doris loved parties, and she loved books and authors. The Giller is, more than anything else, a celebration of literature and writers."
On hearing the news of Mr. Rabinovitch's death, Brad Martin, president and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, said, "Jack has been a great friend to authors and to everyone in the book industry, and he will be greatly missed."
Recent winners of the Giller Prize were Madeleine Thien in 2016 for Do Not Say We Have Nothing and Andre Alexis in 2015 for Fifteen Dogs.