The 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist has been announced, and we would like to extend massive congratulations to Shani Mootoo, who has been recognized for her extraordinary new novel Polar Vortex, published by Book*hug Press. With this nomination, now four of Shani Mootoo’s five novels have received nominations for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize!

Read the jury citation here:

“A keen meditation on the complexities of identity and desire, Polar Vortex is the unsettling examination of a failing marriage.  In a small, southern Ontario town, Priya impulsively invites an old suitor, Prakesh, to spend the night and his arrival triggers the fault lines in her relationship with Alexandra.  Conflicting wants and untold truths drag the past into the present.  Memories cascade and clash as Mootoo masterfully dismantles the stories the narrators tell themselves in language as unsparing as winter.”

Shani Mootoo is a novelist, poet, and visual artist. Her novels include Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award; Valmiki’s Daughter, long-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; He Drown She in the Sea, long-listed for the Dublin Impac Award; and Cereus Blooms at Night, short-listed for several prizes including the Giller Prize, and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. She is also a recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. Shani is represented by Samantha Haywood.

The Giller Prize highlights the very best in Canadian fiction year after year and 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 longlist was selected by an esteemed panel of five judges: Canadian authors Mark Sakamoto (Jury Chair), Eden Robinson and David Chariandy, British-Canadian novelist, Tom Rachman and literary critic for The Guardian, Claire Armitstead.

The Giller Prize will be announced November 9th at 9pm EST during a virtual event hosted by Eric McCormack and featuring a performance by Canadian jazz pianist and singer, Diana Krall.

To view the full longlist, please visit:

Praise for Polar Vortex:

“How to know the shifting pieces of ourselves, how to acknowledge contradictory desires, as we are pulled into the maelstrom of desire and memory? Shani Mootoo’s intimate new novel suspends us in the vortex between acts of betrayal and acts of love. It is a powerfully unsettling work from a brilliant artist.”
—Madeleine Thien, Scotiabank Giller Prize winning author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing

“The past isn’t even past—and the present is tense with conflicting desires and untold stories. What brings clarity to this setting is Shani Mootoo’s limpid prose, clean and bracing. Polar Vortex is an honest, but also moving, exploration of true intimacy.”
—Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana

“What a gorgeous and thrilling novel. Beautifully crafted, with perfect form and icy-clear tone—Shani Mootoo held me under her spell until the shock and release of the last page!”
—Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light

“Shani Mootoo’s Polar Vortex is a powerful, fraught, and inventive exploration of the impossibility of ever really knowing the people we come to love. Told in urgent, incandescent prose and effortlessly spinning in and out of time, the book is an intimate and starkly honest examination of the complexities of sexual identity, lust, shame, regret, and how we, no matter where we come from or how we identify, are at our most complicated when it comes to the whims and failings of the human heart.” —Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder

“A slow-burning examination of identity, gender, desire, and immigration…Mootoo’s subtle, thought-provoking tale stands out among stories of characters gripped by the past.”
–Publishers Weekly

“Compellingly charts the complexity of human relationships, the illusions of memory, and the corrosive power of denial.”
–Kirkus Reviews