Victoria author Esi Edugyan ‘thrilled’ and ‘floored’ to be back in Giller Prize spotlight
CALGARY—When Esi Edugyan found out she was on the short list for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, it was in the midst of chaos — her young children had just gone out the door for school, leaving behind a mess in their wake.
She paused from cleaning to watch the announcement through an online livestream. When her name was announced as one of the five authors left in the running for the coveted book prize, she was in shock.
“I’m genuinely surprised that this has happened again.
You never get used to it. It’s always wonderful and thrilling and a huge honour,” Edugyan said speaking from Victoria.
“I won the prize with my last book, so to be shortlisted again, I was floored.” (The winner of the $100,000 award will be announced Nov. 19.)
In 2011, the Calgary-born author won the Giller for her second novel Half-Blood Blues. There are talks of the critically acclaimed novel being made into a movie. Edugyan said the rights for the book have been optioned by a German producer. Now, she’s entering the ring again, with her novel Washington Black contending for one of Canada’s top literary prizes.
Washington Black is about an 11-year-old field slave in Barbados who finds himself selected as a personal servant of the plantation master — a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor and abolitionist whose single-minded pursuit of the perfect aerial machine mystifies all around him. His plans are soon shattered and Washington finds his life in danger.
Esi Edugyan says she felt “a sense of responsibility” to guard against barbarity.