06 October 2010

Skibsrud is on the Giller Shortlist

Johanna Skibsrud is on the Giller shortlist. I'll write more later when I have a minute to sit down for half a second. For now, here's the text of our press release:

On Tuesday 5 October the Scotiabank Giller Prize unveiled the 2010 shortlist for Canada’s richest literary prize for fiction. Included on the list was Johanna Skibsrud’s novel The Sentimentalists. The prize, worth $50,000, will be awarded at a gala event in Toronto on 9 November 2010. The shortlist, chosen by journalist Michael Enright, American novelist Claire Messud and British novelist Ali Smith, includes:

David Bergen’s novel The Matter with Morris (HarperCollins)
Alexander MacLeod’s short story collection Light Lifting (Biblioasis)
Sarah Selecky’ short story collection This Cake Is For The Party, (Thomas Allen Publishers)
Johanna Skibsrud’s novel The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press)
Kathleen Winter’s Annabel (House of Anansi Press)

According to the Scotiabank Giller Prize web site (www.scotiabankgillerprize.ca) CTV has confirmed that it will be the official media partner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize gala for a sixth consecutive year. Seamus O’Regan will host the gala, which will be broadcast live on Bravo! and CTV.ca with the CTV network premiere the following day, Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Subsequent encore broadcasts and complete broadcast details to be announced soon. CTV will once again support the broadcast with a dedicated website, giller.CTV.ca.

About the Book

Johanna Skibsrud’s debut novel connects the flooding of an Ontario town, the Vietnam War, a trailer in North Dakota and an unfinished boat in Maine. Parsing family history, worn childhood memories, and the palimpsest of old misunderstandings, Skibsrud’s narrator maps her father’s past.

Napoleon Haskell lives with Henry in the town of Casablanca, Ontario, on the shores of a man-made lake beneath which lie the remains of the former town. Henry is the father of Napoleon’s friend Owen, who died fighting in Vietnam. When her life comes apart, Napoleon’s daughter retreats to Casablanca and is soon immersed in the complicated family stories that lurk below the surface of everyday life. With its quiet mullings and lines from Bogart, The Sentimentalists captures a daughter’s wrestling with a heady family mythology.

"The real beginning of this story," says Skibsrud, "was a summer that I spent working on Flagstaff lake, a lake that covers four now submerged townships in northern Maine, and served as the inspiration for the lake and the buried town in my book. That fall, with the beginnings of a story in my head, my father began to speak for the first time about his experiences in the Vietnam War. I am still not sure exactly why he told me his story when he did, but I think it had to do – it was 2003 then – with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had been for some time stirring in him a deep anger toward a government willing to repeat the mistakes of the past at the expense of innocent people; soldiers as well as civilians. My mother thinks that my father told me his stories because he knew that I would do something with them – what I did write, though, was not my father’s story, but my own. And it is not a true story. At its root, though, there are two true things. One is my father’s testimony following Operation Liberty II in 1967, in which he spoke out against the murder of a civilian woman by the Captain of his squad. The other is the feeling I got floating over the buried towns of Flagstaff Lake: a feeling of the way that everything exists in layers, that nothing disappears; it just gets hidden sometimes."

The Sentimentalists, designed by Gaspereau Press’s Andrew Steeves, recently won first place in the the fiction category of the Alcuin Society’s 2010 competition for Excellence in Canadian Book Design. Typeset in customized version of Eric Gill’s Joanna types, the book prompted Alcuin judges to hail Steeves as "a modern day Eric Gill updating the medieval." The sheets were printed offset, folded into signatures, Smyth sewn and bound into paper covers. They are enfolded in a letterpress-printed book jacket features an illustration by Wesley Bates. The book retails for $27.95.

About the Author

As well as The Sentimentalists, Johanna Skibsrud’s first poetry collection, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, was published in 2008 by Gaspereau Press and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. Her second poetry collection, I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being, was published by Gaspereau Press in 2010. Originally from Nova Scotia, she now lives in Montreal.

Contact Information

For more information about the Scotiabank Giller Prize:

For general information, interviews, author photos, imposition advice … etc.

Gaspereau Press Limited
Gary Dunfield & Andrew Steeves, Printers & Publishers
47 Church Avenue, Kentville, Nova Scotia, B4N 2M7
e: info@gaspereau.com T: 902 678 6002 f: 902 678 7845

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