Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Omar El Akkad are on the longlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2021 announced on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

The Giller Prize, founded by Jack Rabinovitch in 1994, highlights the very best in Canadian fiction annually. In 2005, the prize teamed up with Scotiabank who increased the winnings 4-fold. The Scotiabank Giller Prize now awards $100,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel, graphic novel or short story collection published in English, and $10,000 to each of the finalists. The award is named in honour of the late literary journalist Doris Giller by her husband Toronto businessman Jack Rabinovitch, who passed away in August 2017.

The jury for 2021 features Award winning Canadian authors Megan Gail Coles, Zalika Reid-Benta (jury chair) and Joshua Whitehead, Malaysian writer and Whitbread and Commonwealth award winner, Tash Aw and American author and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize, Joshua Ferris. They announced the longlist of 12 titles via the Scotiabank Giller Prize’s YouTube and Facebook page.  The following writers of African descent making the shortlist;

  • Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia, The Son of the House
  • Omar El Akkad, What Strange Paradise

On the longlist, the jury wrote: “In a year of logistical challenges and the continued relevance of Zoom, the jury of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize has emerged from many hours of private reading and many rounds of lively debate with a longlist of twelve titles. This extraordinary dozen showcases an ecstatic diversity of voices and styles, of narrative deployment and moral urgency, of formal innovation and old-fashioned storytelling pleasure. There is something for everyone on this list, but within each of these books there is to be found beauty, honest reckoning, human compassion, and the irrefutable mark of the sublime. It was the jury’s great honor to delight in the manifold achievements of these books, and with their announcement we leave this debate settled for another year: Canada’s literature is as vibrant and expansive as ever.”

Omar El Akkad said of the longlist, “Such wonderful news to wake up to, and absolutely incredible company to be in. Congratulations to these brilliant writers.”

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia said of her nomination, “Truly thankful for the warm welcome that this book has received in Canada, starting with that first warm conversation with Scott Fraser, President at my publishing house, Dundurn. Thankful for Dundurn Press and all the work the team has put into bring this book home to Canada and to North America. Thank you Heather, Maria and the rest of the team.

She added, “Thankful to my editor, Jenefer Shute, whose constant refrain of ‘powerful’ as a descriptor and whose agreement on keeping the spirit, the language as is, while cleaning up fluff, is part of this book’s success. I am in joy and awe and wonder. I am grateful for God’s open doors and favours in a season like no other. Thank you dear Jesus for advance warning even if I am still struggling to believe it.”

The Son of the House has been on a roll since it was published winning the best international fiction prize at the Sharjah International Book Fair as well as being shortlisted for this year’s NLNG Nigerian Prize for Literature. The shortlist and winner will be announced in due course