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Victoria author makes Giller Prize long list

Victoria’s Marjorie Celona is among the nominees for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for her debut novel.The 31-year-old author is on the list of 13 titles for Y.

Victoria’s Marjorie Celona is among the nominees for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for her debut novel.The 31-year-old author is on the list of 13 titles for Y. The novel follows a young girl who bounces between foster homes after her mother abandon her on the steps of the Victoria YMCA as an infant.“I suppose it feels like you’d imagine it feels. It feels great,” she said, of learning she was a nominee. “For one thing, I’m a complete unknown. And for another thing, it’s my first book.”Celona, born and raised in Victoria, studied creative writing at the University of Victoria before attending the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the John C. Schupes Fellowship. She is currently based in Cincinnati, Ohio.She was thinking of her hometown, she said, when she chose Victoria as a setting for Y.“When I wrote the novel, I was living in upstate New York and I missed Victoria. So in some ways, it was a way of going back, to write about it.”Last year, Victoria’s Esi Edugyan won the prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues.Three fellow British Columbians also made the Giller long list. Vancouver-based Billie Livingston is nominated for One Good Hustle. Nancy Richler wrote The Imposter Bride in Vancouver, her home for 25 years, although she has since returned to Montreal. And Annabel Lyon of New Westminster is nominated for The Sweet Girl — a follow-up to The Golden Mean, which was shortlisted for the Giller and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2009.Other authors nominated include Regina native C. S. Richardson, winner of the 2008 regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and vice-president and creative director at Random House of Canada. He was nominated for his novel The Emperor of Paris.Montreal-based Kim Thuy is a nominee for her debut novel, Ru, which is translated by Sheila Fischman from the original French version that won a 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award.Two-time Commonwealth Writers’ Prize finalist Robert Hough of Toronto is in the running for his novel Dr. Brinkley’s Tower.And fellow Commonwealth prize finalist Russell Wangersky, a Halifax native who made the Giller long list in 2006, gets another shot at the honour with his short-story collection Whirl Away.The Giller long list also includes Calgary’s Will Ferguson for 419 and Toronto-based journalist and author Katrina Onstad for Everybody Has Everything. The list is rounded out by Montreal native Alix Ohlin’s Inside, Montreal native Lauren B. Davis for Our Daily Bread and Toronto’s Cary Fagan for his short-story collection My Life Among the Apes.Now into its 19th year, the Giller is one of Canada’s most distinguished literary awards, offering $50,000 to the best Canadian novel or short-story collection published in English.This year’s jury included novelist, dramatist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle; novelist Gary Shteyngart; and Anna Porter, author and founder of Key Porter Books.asmart@timescolonist.com

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