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David Bergen has shot at second Giller Prize

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TORONTO -- Winnipegger David Bergen will have a shot at winning a second Scotiabank Giller Prize next month.

Bergen's sixth novel, The Matter With Morris (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins), was shortlisted for the $50,000 award Tuesday morning. It's about a middle-aged newspaper columnist who is reassessing his life after his son is killed in Afghanistan.

Just being a finalist guarantees the 53-year-old writer a $5,000 consolation prize.

"I'll take it," Bergen joked in a telephone interview after learning he'd made the short list.

"I've got three kids in university and one in private school."

When Bergen won the Giller in 2005 for The Time in Between, a novel set in Vietnam, he was the dark horse on the list. Five years later, he's the marquee name.

Two short story collections are also in the running this year: Light Lifting (Biblioasis) by Dartmouth, N.S.-based Alexander MacLeod, who is the son of the acclaimed writer Alistair MacLeod, and This Cake Is for the Party (Thomas Allen Publishers) by Toronto's Sarah Selecky.

The short list is rounded out by two first novels: The Sentimentalists (Gaspereau Press) by Johanna Skibsrud and Annabel (House of Anansi Press) by Kathleen Winter. Both women live in Montreal.

Winter's novel is also nominated for a Writers' Trust Award.

Another Winnipegger, Joan Thomas, had made this year's Giller long list with her second novel, Curiosity, but it did not survive the cut.

"It's a crapshoot," said Bergen, who has already begun working on another novel, his seventh.

"Every year the Giller jury is different. You write the best book you can and throw it out there."

The Giller winner will be announced at a Toronto gala on Nov. 9.

The short lists for this year's Governor General's Literary Awards are being announced Oct. 13.

This year's Giller jury consists of broadcaster Michael Enright, author Claire Messud and writer Ali Smith. They arrived at the short list after reading 98 books submitted by 38 publishing houses.

The prize was established in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. It has become one of the country's most popular and lucrative literary awards, with nominated books receiving a considerable boost in sales.

The gala ceremony will be broadcast live on Bravo! and CTV.ca, and will air on CTV on Nov. 10.

 

-- Canadian Press with staff files

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 6, 2010 D1

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