Toronto - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - Joseph Boyden has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious award for literary excellence. Boyden was honoured last night at the Four Seasons Hotel with a black tie gala attended by the country's cultural elite, including former Ontario premiers William Davis and David Peterson, broadcaster Moses Znaimer, former Toronto mayor David Crombie, dancer Rex Harrington, and Indigo Books and Music head Heather Reisman.
The jury, comprised of award winning author and previous Giller Prize recipient Margaret Atwood, Liberal MP Bob Rae and internationally celebrated author, journalist and professor Colm Toibin, honoured Boyden for his novel, Through Black Spruce, saying: "Joseph Boyden shows us unforgettable characters and a northern landscape in a way we have never seen them before."
Boyden's editor Nicole Winstanley said: "We are thrilled with the Giller jury's acknowledgement of Joseph Boyden last night and honoured to be the publisher celebrating this win. Through Black Spruce is a compassionate, powerful and significant novel written with grace, empathy and exceptional skill."
Through Black Spruce was published to critical acclaim this September, drawing rave reviews and confirming Boyden's place as "a major voice in Canadian fiction" (Montreal Gazette). Penguin Publisher and President David Davidar echoed the reviewer's sentiment, saying: "The Giller jury has confirmed what we at Penguin and readers across the country already know. Joseph is truly one of Canada's best writers. He belongs to an elite group of writers who are redefining the novel in new and glorious ways."
Through Black Spruce is a story of chaotic intersections, set amidst the glamour of New York City's modeling industry and the wilderness of Ontario's frozen north. It is a portrait of modern people and places, haunted by vice and possessed with unexpected glimmers of virtue. Boyden writes with breathtaking beauty of violent collisions; between radically different cultures, families and generations. Through Black Spruce is a poignant, moving testament to family and a stirring account of the complexity of lives in transition between two hard places.
The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, who passed away from cancer the year before. The award recognized excellence in Canadian fiction - long format or short stories - and endowed a cash prize annually of $25,000.00. In 2005, The Giller Prize teamed up with Scotiabank to create The Scotiabank Giller Prize, the first ever co-sponsorship for Canada's richest literary award for fiction. Under the new arrangement, the prize was increased to $70,000 with $50,000 going to the winner and $5,000 to each of the four finalists.
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