Last night in the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, Ian Williams was announced as the winner of the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious and richest award for fiction. He took home the C$100,000 award for his debut novel Reproduction (Random House Canada), a book about the intersecting lives of a young black Canadian girl and rich older white man who produce a child and the interaction of this random family over 40 years. The jury citation called the book, a "masterful unfolding of unexpected connections and collisions between and across lives otherwise separated by race, class, gender and geography." Europa Editions will publish Reproduction in the U.S. next year.
Williams, who is also a highly regarded poet, said upon accepting the prize "It all started with the title, reproduction, and it flowed from there," and the book, which is experimental in form and structure, "is an attempt to see how the novel itself can reproduce within itself." He also took a moment to acknowledge and thank Margaret Atwood, who was also in attendance and celebrating her 80th birthday. "Yours were the first books I bought with my own money," he said.
The award ceremony, which was broadcast for an uninterrupted hour on CBC, Canada's national broadcast network, included comments from each of the shortlisted authors about their books. These included, David Bezmozgis for Immigrant City (HarperCollins); Megan Gail Coles for Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club (House of Anansi Press); Michael Crummey for The Innocents (Doubleday Canada); Alix Ohlin for Dual Citizens (House of Anansi Press); and Steven Price for Lampedusa (McClelland & Stewart).
Each of the shortlisted authors received C$10,000.