Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong congratulates Esi Edugyan and Joan MacLeod, two British Columbia-based literary artists who received major arts awards this week.
Edugyan received the Giller Prize - Canada's richest literary award - in a ceremony Tuesday evening in Toronto. On Monday, MacLeod won the 2011 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada's largest theatre award, for playwriting.
"Edugyan and MacLeod are outstanding writers, worthy of the national recognition and international acclaim they have received," Chong said. "I am proud that the Province, through the BC Arts Council, has supported both these artists in their careers and in some measure has helped contribute to their development as artists."
Victoria's Edugyan, 33, was awarded the $50,000 Giller Prize for her second novel, Half-Blood Blues. The daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Edugyan has received five grants from the BC Arts Council since 2001, including $5,000 this year to help her create a new work of fiction.
MacLeod, who also lives in Victoria, received $75,000 from the Siminovitch Prize committee. Another $25,000 was presented to a young playwright selected by MacLeod, Toronto-based Anusree Roy. In 2000, MacLeod received a $10,000 Creative Writing Projects grant from the BC Arts Council.
Vancouver's Zsuzsi Gartner and Patrick deWitt, a Portland, Ore., resident originally from Vancouver Island, were also nominated for this year's Giller Prize. Both deWitt and Edugyan were also nominated for England's Man Booker prize, the world's most prestigious literary award.
The BC Arts Council - an independent agency of the Province - supports opportunities for artists, strengthens local economies and enhances quality of life for citizens in communities across British Columbia.
"The BC Arts Council is proud of Edugyan's achievement, and congratulates all the writers of the Giller and Man Booker shortlists," said BC Arts Council chair Stan Hamilton. "B.C. is blessed with an abundance of great literary talent, and I am pleased the council, through its programs for literary arts and publishers, contributes to the development and support of these talented writers."
The Giller Prize
- The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, who passed away from cancer the year before. The award recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction - long format or short stories - and endows a cash prize annually of $50,000, the largest purse for literature in the country.
- In 2005, The Giller Prize teamed up with Scotiabank to create The Scotiabank Giller Prize. It is the first-ever co-sponsorship for Canada's richest literary award for fiction. Under the new agreement, the purse doubled, growing to $70,000 with $50,000 going to the winner and $5,000 being given to each of the four finalists.
The Siminovitch Prize
- The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, Canada's largest annual theatre arts award recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles.
BC Arts Council
- The BC Arts Council is the key arts development and funding agency in B.C. This independent organization has a legislative mandate to fund the arts across the province and to consult with the arts and cultural community to develop cultural policy and a long-term strategy for the development of the creative sector. The BC Arts Council is committed to its well established peer review process for all funding decisions.
- The BC Arts Council has distributed more than $150 million since 2001 and supported thousands of artists and hundreds of arts organizations in 228 communities across the province.
Esi Edugyan has degrees from the University of Victoria and Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2003. Her debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was published internationally to critical acclaim.
Joan MacLeod was born and raised in North Vancouver. Early in MacLeod's career, she was a playwright-in-residence at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre for seven years before returning to settle in B.C. Since 2004, she has taught at the University of Victoria in the Department of Writing. She has received the Governor General's Award in Drama for Amigo's Blue Guitar (1990), as well as both the Jesse Richardson and Betty Mitchell Awards for The Shape Of A Girl (2001).
Patrick deWitt was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Ablutions, which was named a New York Times Editors' Choice book. He lives in Portland with his wife and son.
Zsuzsi Gartner is the author of the short fiction collections Better Living Through Plastic Explosives and All the Anxious Girls on Earth, the editor of Darwin's Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow, and the creative director of Vancouver Review's Blueprint BC Fiction Series. She has been on faculty for the Banff Centre's Literary Arts Programs and is an adjunct faculty member for UBC's Optional Residency MFA in Creative Writing. Zsuzsi lives in Vancouver.
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development