Sean Michaels is the winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize for his debut novel, Us Conductors. “I feel like a whale who had found a whole city in his mouth … this mere nomination changed my life,” the young Montrealer said, accepting the prize on Monday night at a ceremony in the ballroom of Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton hotel.
This marks the first year the winner receives $100,000, double prize amount that has been awarded since 2005, when Scotiabank became a key sponsor.
Monday’s ceremony was hosted by popular broadcaster and comedian Rick Mercer, who was brought in just a few weeks ago to replace Jian Ghomeshi, former host of CBC radio program Q, after Ghomeshi was fired by the broadcaster following allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
Mercer’s only reference to the switch-up was introducing himself to the audience as “your Giller filler.” He also saluted another CBC host in the crowd, telling attendees: “When you think of CBC Radio, think of Carol Off.”
In his acceptance speech, Michaels referred generally to the issue of abuse and violence, saying: “We must believe women, and men, and go forth and undo harm.”
Anticipation for the Giller Prize was greater than ever this year thanks to the doubling of the prize purse — with $100,000 earmarked for the winner and $10,000 for each of the other finalists. This made it the richest literary award in Canada, exceeding even Britain’s Man Booker Prize of £50,000 (about $90,000).