Thirty years, 30 photos: A look back at the Scotiabank Giller Prize’s greatest moments
Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative literary honour has launched careers, celebrated legends and championed authors of all stripes
Tonight, the Scotiabank Giller Prize—Canada’s most prestigious and lucrative literary honour—marks its 30th anniversary at the Four Seasons. And it’s the biggest one yet. This year’s jury plowed through a mountain of 145 books, whittling the list down to five finalists: Sarah Bernstein (Study for Obedience), Eleanor Catton (Birnam Wood), Kevin Chong (The Double Life of Benson Yu), Dionne Irving (The Islands: Stories) and C.S. Richardson (All the Colour in the World). The winner takes home the $100,000 grand prize, not to mention the speaking tours, festival appearances and skyrocketing book sales that come with it.
The prize has celebrated plenty of legends over the years—Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler. But it’s also adapted to a changing population and literary climate. Last year, for example, none of the finalists were white, and four of them were women. “That wasn’t intentional. The jury is far too busy to pay attention to anything but the text,” says executive director Elana Rabinovitch. “But it means the award represents the true face of Canada. Much of the industry’s white male establishment has been replaced by new voices.”
Here, a looks back at some of the Scotiabank Giller Prize’s finest moments.
1994: Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch presents M.G. Vassanji with the inaugural award.
1995: Rohinton Mistry accepts his prize for A Fine Balance.
1997: Mordecai Richler wins for Barney’s Version.
1998: Alice Munro earns her first award for The Love of a Good Woman.
1999: Bonnie Burnard marvels at the winner’s trophy.
2000: Michael Ondaatje and David Adams Richards share top billing.
2001: Noni, Jack, Daphna and Elana Rabinovitch at the eighth edition of the gala.
2002: Toronto’s Austin Clarke wins for the The Polished Hoe.
2003: Another victory for M.G. Vassanji.
2005: David Bergen takes home the award for The Time In Between.
2006: Vincent Lam wins for Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures.
2007: Elizabeth Hay, centre, celebrates with former senator Sabi Marwah and Jack Rabinovitch.
2008: Willowdale’s own Joseph Boyden, awarded for his second novel, Through Black Spruce.
2009: Winner Linden MacIntyre, at centre stage with Jack Rabinovitch.
2010: Anne Murray presents the Scotiabank Giller Prize to Johanna Skibsrud.
2011: Esi Edugyan wins her first of two Scotiabank Giller Prizes.
2013: Gordon Pinsent and music executive Denise Donlon.
2016: Madeleine Thien, all smiles, accepts the honour for Do Not Say We Have Nothing.
2017: Award-winning soprano Measha Brueggergosman pays tribute to Scotiabank Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August of that year.
2018: Esi Edugyan at it again, this time for Washington Black.
2019: Ian Williams wins for his debut novel, Reproduction.
2019: Margaret Atwood, who won in 1996 for Alias Grace, shows support.
2020: Souvankham Thammavongsa edges out 13 fellow nominees for the top prize.
2021: The year’s shortlisted authors—Miriam Toews, Angélique Lalonde, Jordan Tannahill, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe and winner Omar El Akkad.
2021: Omar El Akkad accepts the honour for What Strange Paradise.
2021: Filmmaker Barry Avrich.
2022: Noor Naga, winner Suzette Mayr, Kim Fu, Rawi Hage and Tsering Yangzom Lama.
2022: Scotiabank Giller Prize executive director Elana Rabinovitch with legendary novelist John Irving.
2022: Suzette Mayr, author of The Sleeping Car Porter, delivers her acceptance speech.
2022: Winner Suzette Mayr, with gala co-hosts Sarah Gadon and Rupi Kaur.