Giller Prize 2016: And the Winner Is…

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Find out who won the most lucrative literary prize in Canada – the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize!


And the Giller goes to…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien, is set in China before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The win is only the latest accolade for the Montreal-based writer, who was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and last month received Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. Thien, 42, is the author of two previous novels, Certainty (2006) and Dogs at the Perimeter (2011), as well as a collection of short fiction, Simple Recipes (2001).


2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Madeleine Thien with Scotiabank’s John Doig, jury chair Lawrence Hill & founder Jack Rabinovitch. (Photo credit: Tom Sandler)

Recognized as Canada’s most prestigious literary award, the winner of the Giller Prize receives $100,000, and each finalist takes home $10,000. The annual prize toasts the past year’s best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English. The 2016 jury was composed of Lawrence Hill, Kathleen Winter, Jeet Heer, Samantha Harvey and Alan Warner. Of the winning book, the jury wrote:

“Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien entranced the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize jurors with its detailed, layered, complex drama of classical musicians and their loved ones trying to survive two monstrous insults to their humanity: Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in mid-twentieth century China and the Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors in Beijing in 1989. Do Not Say We Have Nothing addresses some of the timeless questions of literature: who do we love, and how do the love of art, of others and ourselves sustain us individually and collectively in the face of genocide? A beautiful homage to music and to the human spirit, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is both sad and uplifting in its dramatization of human loss and resilience in China and in Canada.”

This year’s contenders for the award were:

  • 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
  • Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux, translated by Lazer Lederhendler
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  • The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The televised Giller gala, held at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Toronto, was hosted by CBC radio host and comedian Steve Patterson. The roster of celebrity presenters included actor Gordon Pinsent, musician Tanya Tagaq and playwright Ins Choi.