Suzette Mayr Wins $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize for Novel The Sleeping Car Porter | CBC Books

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Suzette Mayr has won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel The porter of the sleeping car.

The $100,000 prize is the richest in Canadian literature.

Mayr is a Calgary-based poet and novelist. She is the author of the novels. Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall, monoceros, moon honey, the widows Y venous tinnitus. monoceros won the ReLit Award, the City of Calgary WO Mitchell Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Award.

Mayr was president of the Writers Guild of Alberta and has taught creative writing at the University of Calgary since 2003.

“I want to acknowledge the importance of sleeping car porters – the men and the communities around them, who are an essential part of Canadian history and who I wrote about in this book,” Mayr said in his acceptance speech.

“And a final shout out to my LGBTQIA2S+ sisters, brothers and sisters, many of whom, like my main character Baxter, are still too scared to go out or can’t go out because doing so would be too dangerous. I love you and this book is for you.” Mayr said to a standing ovation.

The porter of the sleeping car, Mayr’s sixth novel, tells the story of Baxter, a black man in 1929 who works as a sleeper on a cross-country train. He smiles and tries to be invisible to the passengers, but what he really wants is to save up and go to dental school. On a particular trip west, the train stops and Baxter finds a naughty postcard of two gay men. The postcard awakens memories and longing for him and puts his work in danger.

“It’s really important for black people to become part of the fabric of this country’s history. It gets a little tiring when the only time you talk about it is in February, because it’s Black History Month. It’s every month. It’s everywhere.” Mayr said in an interview with CBC Books.

Mayr’s fellow finalists included Montreal’s Rawi Hage for the story collection. stray dogsEgyptian Canadian writer Noor Naga for novel If an Egyptian can’t speak EnglishKim Fu based in Washington for the collection of stories Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century and Tsering Yangzom Lama of Vancouver for Novel We measure the earth with our bodies.

This year’s shortlist marked the first time that the finalist books were written by Canadian BIPOC authors.

From left to right: Noor Naga, Suzette Mayr, Kim Fu, Rawi Hage and Tsering Yangzom Lama, shortlisted finalists for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize on November 7, 2022. (Jeremy Chan/Getty Images)

“I wrote it because it was a book that I wanted to read and couldn’t find anywhere,” Mayr said. CBC Books.

“I found that a lot of the stories about sleeping car porters tended to focus on union organizing and the labor movement and black rights in general, but I felt like something was missing in terms of the queer experience. Because I couldn’t.” Finding that book, I decided that I would be the one to write that book.”

The 2022 five-person jury was chaired by Canadian writer Casey Plett and also included Canadian authors Kaie Kellough and Waubgeshig Rice and American writers Katie Kitamura and Scott Spencer.

The jury read 138 submitted books, narrowed them down to a long list of 14 and then a short list of five.

“As only happens in the best historical novels, each page of The porter of the sleeping car feels alive and immediate, and eerily contemporary,” the jury said in a statement.

“The porter of the sleeping car in this elegant and stylish novel is called RT Baxter, called Jorge for the people he waits for, like any other black goalkeeper. Baxter’s dream of one day going to school to learn dentistry coexists with his secret life as a gay man, and in Mayr’s triumphant novel we follow him not just from Montreal to Calgary, but in and out of the lives of an indelibly cast. engraving of secondary characters. characters and finally into a beautifully acted glow.

This year’s televised in-person gala in Toronto, co-hosted by actress Sarah Gadon and poet Rupi Kaur, featured a spoken word performance by Kaur.

Mayr received the $100,000 award from Elana Rabinovitch, the daughter of Jack Rabinovitch, and Scotiabank Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer John Doig.

Jack Rabinovitch founded the award in honor of his late wife Doris Giller in 1994. Rabinovitch died in 2017 at the age of 87.

Past winners of the Giller Prize include Omar El Akkad for what a strange paradiseSouvankham Thammavongsa by How to pronounce knife, esi edugian by washington black Y mongrel blues, Margaret Atwood by aka graceIan Williams by Reproduction Y Alice Munro by Run away.

CLOCK | Broadcast of the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Award

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