TORONTO Acclaimed Calgary humorist Will Ferguson captured Canadas most lucrative literary prize on Tuesday night, winning the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel 419.
Id like to raise a toast to the written word, the kilt-wearing Ferguson said as he accepted the award, pulling out a flask.
So. Thanks. Ladies and gentlemen: To the written word. And finally, to answer the question youre all wondering yes I have something on underneath!
Fergusons winning novel, about an email scam, marked a serious turn for the comedic writer, who has written a dozen books ranging from budget travel guides to works of literary fiction.
Penning a more serious work clearly didnt cause Ferguson, 48, to lose any of his satiric edge.
Earlier in the night, when asked about the lavish praise the Giller judging panel has heaped on 419, he quipped: I think that means they suspect I have incriminating photographs of (them), which I dont.
His book was up against titles by Montreal-bred authors Nancy Richler, Alix Ohlin and Kim Thuy.
Rounding out the Giller short list was Russell Wangersky of St. Johns.
With a short list chock-full of newcomers, this years Giller was said to be a wide open race.
Some of the nominees sounded downright dazed to be included at the glitzy awards show.
Wangersky, who attended the black-tie bash with his editor-wife Leslie Vryenhoek, found the experience very, very strange.
Its a long way from working in your kitchen and making sure the cats water dish is full, which is more like what writers deal with, said the journalist, nominated for his short story collection Whirl Away.
(These arent) my clothes its my shoes and my bow tie and the rest of it is someone elses stuff. Its very, very different.
Ohlins Inside about a group of characters trying to help each other is also up for the $25,000 Rogers Writers Trust of Canada fiction prize. The author who was raised in Montreal and is now a professor of creative writing at Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., said the nominations have helped readers find her work.
Im not someone that anyone had ever heard very much about in Canada up until now, so the idea that anyone is talking about the books at all, or reading them or emailing me about it, its very new and it feels very wonderful.
Hosted for the second year in a row by CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi, the show broadcast from the Ritz Carlton featured presentations from actress Kim Cattrall, gold medallist Rosie MacLennan and actor Allan Hawco.
Established in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, the prize celebrates the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. Finalists receive $5,000.
This years jury members Roddy Doyle of Ireland, Gary Shteyngart of New York, and Toronto-based Anna Porter read 142 works of fiction submitted by 51 publishing houses from across Canada.
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