Suzette Mayr is the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2022. The announcement was made Monday night at a gala ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto hosted by Brampton poet Rupi Kaur and award-winning actress and producer Sarah Gadon.
Calgary-based Mayr won for her novel “The Sleeping Car Porter” by Coach House Books, in which a strange, sleeping black car porter takes a treacherous journey from Montreal to Vancouver in 1929. She was previously longlisted for the award in 2011 for her novel “Monoceros.”
“I think I’m officially done with my feelings of impostor syndrome as a writer,” Mayr said, tearfully.
In an interview with the Star a short time later, she said that “writing is such a lonely act. I’ve previously written five books that have gotten a little attention, but not much. Even though I love to write and will always continue to write, sometimes when you don’t get nominated for awards or you start to wonder if you might be in the right profession.”
The $100,000 prize is the largest grant in Canadian literature and is awarded each year to the best fiction book – be it a novel or short stories.
When asked what she hoped the win would do for the LGBTQ community, Mayr said, “I hope it helps create a little more compassion and I hope it helps some of us who are scared… a little comfort, a kind of sanctuary. I want to give people comfort and let them know that they are not alone.”
The other four finalists, each receiving a $10,000 prize, were: Kim Fu, for her short story collection “Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century,” published by Coach House Books; Rawi Hage, for his short story collection “Stray Dogs”, published by Knopf Canada; Tsering Yangzom Lama for her novel “We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies”, edited by McClelland & Stewart; and Noor Naga for her novel “If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English”, published by Graywolf Press.
This year’s judges, Casey Plett, was joined by fellow Canadian writers Kaie Kellough and Waubgeshig Rice, as well as American authors Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer to determine the winner. They read 138 books from publishers across the country. Those books were reduced to a long list of 14 books, which then became the final five.
In an interview when that list was released, Plett said, “We don’t feel any conflict or doubt about the choices we’ve made,” she said. “It was all consensus. There was no bitter, last-minute horse trade. We are very different readers, but there was no groupthink.”
The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by businessman and philanthropist Jack Rabinovitch, who died in 2017, in honor of his wife, Doris Giller, a literary journalist and former editor of Toronto Star books. That first year, a $25,000 prize was awarded to the winner, MG Vassanji for his book “The Book of Secrets”, while last year’s prize, now worth $100,000 to the winner, was awarded to Omar El Akkad for his book “What Strange Paradise”. .” Other winners include André Alexis, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ian Williams and many other well-known names.
And because it’s a tradition continued by the Giller organizers, including his daughters, we’ll end as Jack Rabinovitch always did: “For the price of a dinner in this town, you can buy all the nominated books. So eat at home and buy the books.”
JOIN THE CALL