Grad Student in the Running for Giller Prize

September 28, 2009 - News Release

University of Guelph graduate student Shani Mootoo is on the long list for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her novel Valmiki's Daughter is one of 12 books in the running for the prestigious award.

The 12 works were selected by a jury from a pool of 96 books submitted by 39 publishers from every region of Canada. The short-listed finalists will be announced Oct. 6.

Mootoo, a master’s student in the School of English and Theatre Studies, is a filmmaker, visual artist and writer. Her first novel, Cereus Blooms at Night, published in 1996, was also a finalist for the Giller Prize, among other awards, and was published worldwide.

Valmiki’s Daughter is about a well-to-do Trinidadian family. Valmiki, a renowned doctor, is a central character, along with his daughter, Viveka, who is lively, intelligent and intent on escaping from her family’s confines.

Mootoo was born in Ireland and grew up in Trinidad. She has lived in Canada since the early 1980s. She is also the author of He Drown She in the Sea, which was on the long list for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller and was founded in 1994 by her husband, Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch.

The award recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction — long-format or short stories — and includes a cash prize of $50,000, the largest for Canadian literature.

This is the 16th year the prize has been awarded. Celebrated American novelist and short-story writer Russell Banks, acclaimed U.K. author and journalist Victoria Glendinning, and distinguished Canadian writer and professor Alistair MacLeod make up the 2009 jury.

Recent Giller prize winners include Joseph Boyden, Vicent Lam, David Bergen and Alice Munro.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338 or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

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