Literary legend Alice Munro won’t be competing for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize because she wants younger authors to get a crack at the award, her publisher said Friday.
The two-time winner was adamant that she didn’t want her latest book, the short story collection Too Much Happiness, to be considered for the prize, said McClelland and Stewart publisher Douglas Gibson. This year’s Giller will be handed out at a gala ceremony on Nov. 10. It’s the most lucrative literary prize in Canada, with $50,000 going to the winner, and $5,000 to each of the finalists.
Gibson said they had “a number of conversations” about taking Munro out of the running, since it will means her book — which hits stores Saturday — will lose out on untold amounts of free publicity.
“From a publisher’s point of view it’s too bad but it’s absolutely understandable and this is Alice Munro, she’s a genuinely nice person,” he said.
“It’s very hard to say no to someone who’s being so generous and it’s always hard for me to say no to Alice Munro, so of course we went along with her.”
Giller organizers said they were somewhat disappointed by Munro’s decision. Acclaimed author Margaret Atwood also has a new book out this fall and the possibility of two literary heavyweights vying for the prize would have made for an especially suspenseful Giller night.
But no one tried to change Munro’s mind, said Giller publicist Elana Rabinovitch. “I wouldn’t try and talk her out of it, I wouldn’t presume to do that,” she said.
Munro won the Giller in 1998 for The Love of a Good Woman and in 2004 for Runaway.
The only other writer to win the Giller twice is M.G. Vassanji. Other past winners include Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
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