Scotiabank Giller Prize founder Jack Rabinovitch has changed up the usual pattern of his picks for the jury that presides over Canada's most prominent literary award, choosing populist authors Gary Shteyngart and Roddy Doyle to join Canadian Anna Porter on the three-person panel.
Prolific Irish author Doyle is best-known for The Commitments, which was made into a hit film, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which won the Booker Prize in 1993.
Russian-born U.S. author Shteyngart earned a reputation as one of the leading satirists of the age with The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan. Shteyngart's current book is Super Sad True Love Story, which he is promoting with the funniest book trailer created in the brief history of that genre. Watch this YouTube video and you'll understand how different the 2012 Giller program might be.
Although the Giller jury is usually a tri-national affair, with one Canadian and two foreign members, those selected in the past have tended to represent the higher end of the literary spectrum, with Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood among the Canadians who have done the job. Thus, the inclusion of two popular, largely comic novelists is bound to change the established character of the program.
Along with Porter, a former publisher and award-winning non-fiction author, the Doyle and Shteyngart will consume a year's worth of Canadian literature over the summer and name the best of it in a series of announcements next fall.
The jury will reveal its long list of finalists Sept. 4, followed buy a short list month later and a ceremony to announce the winner on Oct. 30 in Toronto.