The Giller Prize Eligible List

The eligible list for this year’s Giller Prize is out and already on Twitter I can see people getting excited, particularly authors who think  this means they’ve been nominated for the award. Twitter is buzzing with congratulatory messages.

But it doesn’t mean that at all.

Elana Rabinovitch and I exchanged a number of tweets about this yesterday, and she’s confirmed what I had learned last year after I saw my book on the eligible list and started freaking out — this is simply the eligible list, not the actual nominated books that the jury will read so they can make their selections for the longlist.

If you read the rules carefully, the  list is comprised of those books that publishers have identified as published within the requisite time period that this year’s award covers. That’s all it is.

From that list, each publisher can choose no more than three books to  nominate for the award, , i.e. the ones that will be submitted to the jury. They keep that information close, because selecting any given book means rejecting another–you can imagine the internal politics involved.

The actual list of submissions is a much shorter list than the eligible list–each year, the jury announces that it’s read 150 books or whatever the number is–which is always far less than what’s on the eligible list. But we’ll never find out which of the eligible books have been put forward to the jury as nominees because that’s a secret. The only ones we will know for sure made the cut will be the ones the jury selects for the longlist.

By the way, self-published books can’t be entered, although I know of at least one that slipped through. I had great deal of back-and-forth last year with an author on Facebook after the eligible list came out; she insisted her book had been nominated, and I explained how the nomination process worked. She said her publisher told her that her book had been submitted, which surprised me, given the secrecy around the nominations.

But it turned out she was right: because she was the publisher! She’d created a entity to self-publish her book, and got the book into the competition, as well as a few others, including one she won. Talk about chutzpah!

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