André Alexis said winning the Giller Prize of $100,000 for his novel Fifteen Dogs was ‘most unexpected.’

André Alexis said winning the Giller Prize of $100,000 for his novel Fifteen Dogs was ‘most unexpected.’
Photo Credit: Chris Young/Canadian Press

‘Fifteen Dogs’ wins top literary prize

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André Alexis has won the Giller Prize worth $100,000 for his novel called Fifteen Dogs published by Coach House Books. The novel is about canines gifted by gods with human traits. Jury members praised it as an “insightful and philosophical medication on the nature of consciousness.”

Typically, prize-winning books like Fifteen Dogs see a big jump in sales.
Typically, prize-winning books like Fifteen Dogs see a big jump in sales. © Canadian Press/handout/Giller Prize

Second time nominated for a Giller

Alexis was also a finalist for the Giller Prize in 1998 for his debut novel, Childhood, but at the time lost out to renowned author Alice Munro and her work The Love of a Good Woman.

Besides taking the Giller this year, Fifteen Dogs won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize last week, so the novel has captured two of Canada’s top literary awards, the last one being the Governor-General’s awards. That fiction prize was taken by Guy Vanderhaeghe and his book Daddy Lenin and other stories.

Prize was ‘most unexpected’

The 58-year-old Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his family and said the award was “most unexpected.” When asked what he would do with the money, he said he would use it to pay the mortgage on his house. Several of the other finalists had previously said that if they won, they would pay down their debts.

The Giller runners-up were:

  • Samuel Archibald for his story collection Arvida, published by Biblioasis, translated from the French by Donald Winkler
  • Rachel Cusk for her novel Outline, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • Heather O’Neill for her story collection Daydreams of Angels, published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • Anakana Schofield for her novel Martin John, published by A John Metcalf Book, an imprint of Biblioasis
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