Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lynn Coady of Edmonton Wins $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Hellgoing"

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Lynn Coady of Edmonton Wins $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Hellgoing"

Article excerpt

Lynn Coady wins $50,000 Giller Prize

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TORONTO - A tearful Lynn Coady of Edmonton won the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize on Tuesday night for her short story collection "Hellgoing," calling the honour "shocking and overwhelming."

"I almost didn't write this because I thought, 'No, then I will hope,'" Coady, 43, said as she pulled out her acceptance speech onstage.

"I think probably the only way for me to keep it together is just to read from this page, so I'm going to hold on to these pages for dear life."

"I don't even like to cry in private," she added as she grew emotional. "This is very odd for me."

The Cape Breton, N.S., native then thanked her loved ones and her publisher, House of Anansi, which hasn't had a Giller winner in 13 years -- a streak dubbed "the Anansi curse."

She also praised businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who founded the prestigious prize 20 years ago.

"I can't express how honoured I am to play even the smallest part in such an inspiring event," Coady, decked out in a black Stephan Caras gown, told the glitzy, star-packed gala at Toronto's Ritz-Carlton hotel.

"It makes me proud not just to be a Canadian writer but to be a Canadian, to live in a country where we treat our writers like movie stars."

Coady, who is known for her comical yet compassionate approach to writing, included eight stories in "Hellgoing" with characters including a young nun and a bride-to-be.

This year's jury members -- CanLit legend Margaret Atwood, 2011 Giller winner Esi Edugyan and American author Jonathan Lethem -- praised the collection as having a "keen and sympathetic wit."

The book is also a finalist for this year's $25,000 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, which will be awarded Nov. 20 in Toronto.

Coady, who is also an editor and journalist, was also a Giller finalist in 2011, for "The Antagonist." In '98, her first novel, "Strange Heaven," was nominated for a Governor General's Award.

Her other books include "Mean Boy," "Play the Monster Blind" and "Saints of Big Harbour." She said she's now in a television writing program at the Canadian Film Centre.

Coady beat out titles by Toronto-based Dennis Bock, Toronto native Craig Davidson, Lisa Moore of St. John's and German-born Canadian Dan Vyleta.

This year's jury members read 147 titles submitted by 61 publishers.

Atwood said they chose the winner Tuesday morning. The deliberations were "a good process" with no "blood on the floor," she noted.

"It was a very, very rich year in Canadian writing. There were a lot of very good books published this year, so it was difficult to arrive at a 13-book long list, and then it was difficult to arrive at a five-book short list, but once we got there it wasn't too difficult."

Edugyan called the process "wonderfully amiable," adding, "Nobody put anybody in a headlock or anything like that."

"We did it in a drunken stupor," joked Lethem onstage, riffing on the day's headlines surrounding embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. …

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