Thursday, November 11, 2010

Johanna Skibsrud wins this year's $50,000 Giller Prize

Johanna Skibsrud, from Montreal, was awarded this year's $50,000 Giller Prize on November 9, for her first novel, The Sentimentalists, which she based on some of her father's real-life experiences in the Vietnam War. I remember the Vietnam War. One of my best friends lost her brother in a helicopter crash and she was never the same afterwards.

It's nice to see Johanna win after being referred to as "perhaps the most unlikely winner in Giller Prize history. The novel was originally published in October 2008 — too late to qualify for last year’s prize — but came and went without too much attention; it garnered scant reviews, sold a few hundred copies, and remained relatively unknown until being named to the long list in September."

Here's an interesting writer's dilemma for Johanna Skibsrud now that she's won the Giller Prize. She's with a small five-person publishing house, Gaspereau Press that can't keep up with the demand for her prize winning novel, and is struggling to crank out 1,000 books a week. A happy problem just the same.

And Gaspereau Press didn't lose any time hopping on the bandwagon to promote themselves. They made a short video of themselves feeding the manuscripts of her book into the binding machine. It's just a video of NOISE! As if anyone would be interested in this. I'm wondering how they survive without ear plugs! But it will make you so happy you are at peace with your writer's pen or keyboard and quiet office! And if you've never seen a book binding machine, here it is.

I'm usually more interested in the writer's story than the novels they produce.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the famed Harry Potter books, is one of my all time favourites. Before she published her first book, she struggled to survive as a single parent. It was hard for her to finish her first manuscript, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone-U.S. title).

J.K. Rowling kept many of her notes in simple shoe boxes. Five publishers rejected her masterpiece. Until, one day, an exec at Scholastic found her first Harry Potter manuscript on top of his to-take-home-and-read pile and couldn't put it down. The rest is history. J.K. Rowling is now famous and rich with a series of Harry Potter books and Hollywood feature films.

Happy reading and writing!

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