Two of the five jury panel members of Canada’s most prestigious literary award this year have University of Guelph ties.
Sociology professor Cecil Foster and alumna Alison Pick were selected to the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for excellence in Canadian fiction. Last year, the winner won $100,000, with each finalist receiving $10,000.
This year’s longlist will be chosen by the jury and revealed in September. The shortlist will be announced the following month, with the winner to be named at a gala in Toronto on Nov. 10.
Foster said he was “a little surprised and extremely honoured to be part of this jury.”
“The chance to be part of a committee that brings recognition to the arts, and can offer feedback to writers, is special. I have been in academia for so long, I am glad that people remembered me and feel I have something to contribute.”
He published Independence, his first fictional work in 12 years, in 2014. The well-received novel is a coming-of-age story of a boy in the Caribbean in the 1960s.
Foster hopes to bring a different perspective to the Giller Prize jury.
“They expanded the committee membership for the first time from three to five, in part to bring diverse voices and a diversity of opinion to the jury,” he said.
“I will be looking for those books that would appeal to all Canadians. I’m going into this with an open mind; I want to be surprised and get a good feel for the vast expanse of Canadian writing. I think the winning book will be one that Canadians will want to read and will love.”
He said he’s proud to serve along with Pick, who graduated from U of G in 1999. Last year, she published the memoir Between Gods; her 2010 novel Far to Go was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.
“At Guelph, we have a tremendous collection of writers who have made a name for themselves, including such notables as Tom King and Dionne Brand,” said Foster. “We are well-known throughout Canada for our English department at U of G.”
Foster could have hundreds of books to read this year as a jury member.
“It’s early, so I’m not certain what the process involves yet in terms of determining what books make the longlist. However, I think it’s safe to say that my plans for this summer involve a great deal of reading.”
Original Article – University of Guelph