Five of the six finalists were female authors, but Montreal-based Thien took home the Giller prize and the $100,000 pot.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize gala, an annual event that recognizes the best Canadian fiction, was held last night in Toronto. This year's winner is Vancouver-born, Montreal-based author, Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We have Nothing. This breathtaking story begins in Vancouver, but weaves in and out of China during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The language of music plays a central role in the storytelling, with three young musicians who are at the Shanghai Conservatory at the heart of the novel. And the book's title is a reference to a worker's song adopted as the national anthem during the then-Chinese Soviet Republic.During her acceptance speech, Thien honoured her late mother: "She wanted me to be free in this world, to live with confidence, to love and be loved. She taught me to be kind and how to be brave," she said.
The event was hosted by comedian Steve Patterson, and each nominee received a special introduction by a Canadian celebrity, including playwright Ins Choi from Kim's Convenience, Jus Reign, a YouTube star, and actor Gordon Pinsent. A five-member jury that included Lawrence Hill and Jeet Heer each read 161 books, and then narrowed it down to a long list of twelve titles, and then finally, to the six finalists.
In 1994, Jack Rabinovitch launched The Giller Prize to honour his wife, Doris Giller, a literary journalist who passed away. The winner receives a $100,000 purse—the biggest monetary purse, and all other finalists receive $10,000.
Here are the six Giller finalists for 2016:
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien *winner
13 Ways Of Looking At Fat Girl by Mona Awad
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux (translated by Lazer Lederhendler)
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin