Johanna Skibsrud won the Giller Prize, and its fifty-grand purse, for her novel The Sentimentalists, which was published by Gaspereau Press.
The 30-year-old—-the youngest ever to receive the literary award—-grew up in Pictou County, specifically Scotsburn in Pictou County, home to one of the province's major dairies.
Based in Montreal, Skibsrud until this point has been known as a poet. Her book of poetry, I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being, came out on Gaspereau's spring list this year. (Read about it on the publisher's site: http://www.gaspereau.com/1554470854.shtml)
Skibsrud's debut novel, The Sentimentalists, accompanies the daughter of a dying Vietnam War-veteran as she retraces her father's steps and weighs his decisions and actions. A fuller summary is available on the publisher's site: http://www.gaspereau.com/1554470781.shtml. Patience: the site is very slow, no doubt due to morning-after-award-ceremony traffic.
Gaspereau authors, and the press itself, have received many prizes and recognition for writing and book design (set and pressed by hand—-objects to behold).
George Elliott Clarke, as perhaps the most high-profile example prior to this win, received the 2001 Governor-General's Literary Award for Poetry in English for Execution Poems, published in 2000. (The GGs get announced next week, November 16.)
Immediately before and after the Giller announcement, media has focused much of its attention so far on the fact that The Sentimentalists is widely unavailable in stores, owing to the purposely limited print runs Gaspereau produces. But, you can check out your local branch of the Halifax Public Libraries (halifaxpubliclibraries.ca), or other provincial library system, to see if there's a copy available on the racks, or one to be transited over from another branch. Or, alternatively, scan the shelves of a secondhand/used bookstore, such as the celebrated Doull Books (http://www.doullbooks.com).
The Giller jury this year comprised of CBC host Michael Enright, UK writer Ali Smith and American author and teacher Claire Messud.
Besides Skibsrud as the winner, they selected Alexander MacLeod's short story collection Light Lifting (Biblioasis) for the shortlist.