Jack Rabinovitch, a powerful patron of the arts in Canada who established the Giller Prize for literature, died yesterday in Toronto. He was 87.
Now known as the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the lucrative award for best fiction in Canada, in long format or short stories, was created in memory of his wife, Doris Giller, who died of cancer on April 25, 1993.
Doris Giller was a journalist who’d been the book review editor at the Montreal Gazette, and then assistant book editor at the Toronto Star.
“A generous patron, a loyal husband and friend and a great man”
The two celebrated Canadian writers were two-thirds of the jury that chose M. G. Vassanji‘s, The Book of Secrets, as the winner that year.
The Giller Prize initially endowed $25,000, the largest amount for literature in Canada.
“It started at a pub in Montreal called Woody’s and ended up at a famous restaurant in Montreal called Moishes, and over chopped liver we decided what to do,” Jack Rabinovitch told The Canadian Press at the Giller Prize gala in October 2012.
When the award teamed up with Scotiabank in 2005, the prize grew to what is now $50,000 for the winner, and $5,000 for each finalist.
David Adams Richards was the co-winner of the prize in 2000, for his novel Mercy Among the Children. “Let’s be clear: No one is ever obligated to give their time and energy to create something as prestigious as the Giller Prize, but Jack Rabinovitch did,” he told the Globe and Mail.
“In doing so, his spirit was revealed to all Canadians; that of a generous patron, a loyal husband and friend and a great man. I will always remember his kindness to writers from all walks of life. And writers from all walks of life benefited from his simple unaffected goodness.” Adams Richards said.
(With files from CBC, the Globe and Mail and CP)