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On November 6th, at a gala affair held in Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel, Elizabeth Hay ascended the stage and entered the winner's circle of former Giller Prize Winners for her novel Late Nights On Air. The victory was not unexpected.
Tradition requires that the judges pick the winning novel the day of the ceremony, and it took them only about an hour to do so. In a statement by juror David Bergen, "We definitely had some discussions before reaching the decision. It was a smooth process and had nothing to do with her previous nominations. It had to do with the excellence of this particular book."
Hay has been nominated for many of Canada's top honours before, including a 2000 Giller, as well as serving as a Giller juror in 2005. Most Canadian authors and writers felt that she well-deserved claim on the bronze statue signifying Giller supremacy.
A gracious woman, Hay at 56 was emotional and excited about the win. Accepting the award with charming dignity and humour, part of her acceptance speech included the comment, "I am very thrilled and very lucky; so lucky in fact that I'll probably be hit by a truck tomorrow, so it's important that I say my thank-yous now."
Hay's novel Late Nights On Air triumphed over Michael Ondaatje's Divisadero, MG Vassanji's The Assassin's Song, Alissa York's Effigy, and Daniel Poliquin's A Secret Between Us for the prize. Each of the runners-up received $2,500.
The invitation-only, black-tie, star-studded event of about 500 people included such individuals as former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, onetime Ontario Premier David Peterson, and broadcaster Knowlton Nash. Presenters included actors Gordon Pinsent, Lisa Ray (Water), and Kelly Rowan (The O.C.), author John Ralston Saul, and Pamela Wallin, former Canadian Consul General to New York. The host was Seamus O'Regan, co-host of Canada A.M., the Giller's broadcast partner.
Hay's other novels include A Student Of Weather, a finalist for The Giller Prize and the Ottawa Book Award, Garbo Laughs, winner of the Ottawa Book Award and a finalist for the Governor General's Award, and Small Change.
Congratulations to Ms. Hay from all of us here at Inkwell Newswatch!
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