Behind the Words

TORONTO, Oct. 27 /CNW/ - The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2009 Finalists recently answered a few questions about what they're reading, their favourite spots to relax in Canada, how to overcome writer's block and what they would recommend our Prime Minister read. Below is a sample of their responses. For the full list of questions, please visit:

Read Canada's Best and Guess The Giller!

Here's a sample of what the Canadian authors are saying:


Book: The Golden Mean

What inspired this book?

I first read Aristotle as an undergraduate and long after I left university I kept going back to his Ethics. It remains such a relevant, resonant book, 2300 years after it was written: what does it mean to be a good person? What does it mean to live a good life? How can we avoid extremes in ourselves and our behaviour? After September 11, 2001, I picked the book up yet again for a bit of solace and found myself reading the postage-stamp-sized biography of Aristotle. Idly I wondered, how could one structure that life into a novel? I sketched an outline, almost for fun, and then worked on it a little more. And a little more. And then a lot more. Eight years later, the novel was done.

If you were not writing, what would you be doing?

I'd have enjoyed an academic career, either in ethics or philosophy of law.

What was the last book you read?

Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's Skim.


Book: The Winter Vault

Is there a character in your book to whom you relate the most?

I feel an intimacy with all three main characters - Avery, Jean and Lucjan.

Which part of the book do you visualize first, the ending or the beginning?

An image comes to me, an image that haunts me and that I feel holds the essence and mystery of the book; this image usually becomes the beginning of the book.

Favourite spot in Canada to relax?

The north shore of Lake Superior.


Book: Fall

What inspired this book?

A strange anger at first - something to do with people labelling others without getting to know them. And a need to find some way to express the wordless movements of an excited adolescent in love - which I think came from the opposite place to the anger.

Best remedy for writer's block?


Name three things you're most proud of.

My son, Charlie. My brother, Sean. My novels, sometimes.


Book: The Disappeared

What inspired this book?

A woman in a market in Cambodia. I was alone, sitting on a bench, and this stranger sat beside me. She told me that she had tried to emigrate at the end of the Pol Pot era (1979) but she was forcibly repatriated to Phnom Penh from her refugee camp.

Then she said, "I lost my whole family during Pol Pot time."

I didn't know how to respond. Finally I asked, "What can I do? Can I help you?"

She answered, "No, I just want you to know."

This brief encounter stays with me. Over the years I have thought about the importance of having one's story heard, of being "witnessed" to.

If you were not writing, what would you be doing?

Listening to Khmer rock music.

Name three things you're most proud of.

Pride is suspect for us protestants...but things I love? Family and friends, woogle ball, canoeing.


Book: The Bishop's Man

Which part of the book do you visualize first, the ending or the beginning?

In The Bishop's Man, I visualized the ending first ... then wrote a long prologue which I subsequently ditched.

What was the last book you read?

Galore by Michael Crummey (simultaneously with A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, which chronicles the collapse of Lehman Brothers).

If you could give one book to the PM of Canada, which one would it be?

Two Concepts of Liberty by Isaiah Berlin ... it's actually a pamphlet so it wouldn't take up too much of his time.

SOURCE Scotiabank - Sponsorships & Donations

For further information: For further information: Elana Rabinovich, (416) 934-0755; Or, for Guess The Giller: Livy Feldgajer, Scotiabank Public Affairs, (416) 866-6203

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