Suzette Mayr wins 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Brad Wheeler (Globe and Mail) writes that Suzette Mayr has won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her latest work, The Sleeping Car Porter, a novel  based on her Bahamas-born great-great uncle. [See previous post Finding Black Queer Life Between the Lines of History. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

Calgarian Suzette Mayr has won the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Sleeping Car Porter, her sixth novel. The win is worth $100,000 to the 55-year-old author, who was presented a hand-blown glass trophy at a glitzy televised ceremony in Toronto.

Published by Coach House Books, The Sleeping Car Porter tells the story of a queer Black train worker in the 1920s who must contend with the perils of white passengers, ghosts and his secret love affair.

“I think today I’m officially done with any feelings with imposter syndrome as a writer,” Ms. Mayr said in an emotional acceptance speech.

The author then gave a “final shoutout” to anyone lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and two-spirit who was “still too scared to come out, or cannot come out because to do so would be too dangerous. I see you, I love you and this book is for you.”

Of the winning book, the jury wrote, “Suzette Mayr brings to life – believably, achingly, thrillingly – a whole world contained in a passenger train moving across the Canadian vastness, nearly 100 years ago. As only occurs in the finest historical novels, every page in The Sleeping Car Porter feels alive and immediate – and eerily contemporary.”

The awarding of the most lucrative prize in Canadian literature was witnessed at an in-person gala hosted by actress Sarah Gadon and poet Rupi Kaur, by an invitation-only black-tie crowd of 350 in the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel.

[. . .] Those with the most at stake were the five shortlisted authors. Up for the award in addition to Ms. Mayr were Tsering Yangzom Lama (for her novel We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies), Rawi Hage (for his short story collection Stray Dogs), Noor Naga (for her novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English) and Kim Fu (for her short story collection Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century). They each received $10,000 as runners-up. [. . .]

[Photo by COLE BURSTON/THE CANADIAN PRESS: Suzette Mayr accepts her award as the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner in Toronto.]

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