Omar El Akkad and Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia are on the shortlist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2021 announced on October 5, 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 on September 8.

They announced the shortlist on Tuesday with the following writers of African descent making the shortlist;

  • Omar El Akkad, What Strange Paradise, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
  • Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia, The Son of The House, published by Dundurn Press.

Omar El Akkad responded to the shortlist with the Tweet, “I’m so grateful to be on this magnificent list, and to the judges, who I don’t envy at all for having to make these decisions — every one of the longlisted books and authors are outstanding.”

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a message on social media said;

“Good morning all! And what a wonderful morning it is! Grateful to announce that The Son of the House made it to the shortlist for Canada’s prestigious Scotia Bank Giller Prize!!!!!!!!!!!!I am in awe. It feels surreal to see this book make it this far and to see the stories of Nwabulu and Julie make it into the warm embrace of the world and my peers.

Thank you to Scott Fraser and the entire Dundurn Press team for their support. Thank you Scott again for loving this book and bringing it home to Canada.

Thank you to the jury. This must have been such a hard task – to choose from such sterling books, such stirring prose and such urgent and compelling stories and subject matters. Your wonderful words about The Son of the House are such encouragement in what is an often a lonely and self-doubt inducing task.

Congratulations to my fellow shortlisted authors. It is surreal to be in such hallowed company.

Congratulations to the longlisted authors. It’s been lovely getting to meet some of you and your wonderful books. We keep pushing.

Thank you to the Giller Prize team for all the work that goes into this year in and out for almost 30 years.

As always, grateful to be able to share joyous news with my parents, Obidinma and Rebecca Onyemelukwe, to whom my book is dedicated, ndi o ga-adili nma.

Thank you Lord God for a phenomenal year, blessings day in and out. All glory and honour to you.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony on Monday, November 8.