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B.C. Writers Earn Major Literary Awards

It’s been an amazing November for B.C. literary artists.

Last week, Esi Edugyan received the Giller Prize -- Canada’s richest literary award -- in a ceremony in Toronto, while Joan MacLeod won the 2011 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada’s largest theatre award, for playwriting.

This week, Patrick deWitt won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, his second major literary award for his debut novel The Sisters Brothers.

Victoria’s Edugyan, 33, was awarded the $50,000 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 work on 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 arts council.

deWitt, a Portland, Oregon resident originally from Vancouver Island, previously won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. deWitt was also nominated for this year’s Giller Prize, and both he and Edugyan were also nominated for England’s Man Booker prize, the world’s most prestigious literary award.

Vancouver’s Zsuzsi Gartner was also a Giller nominee this year.

The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. The award recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction – long format or short stories – and endows an annual cash prize of $70,000, with $50,000 going to the winner, and $5,000 being given to each of the four finalists.

The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. It is Canada’s largest annual theatre arts award, and recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles.

The Canada Council funds, administers and promotes the Governor General’s Literary Awards, Canada’s oldest and most prestigious awards for Canadian literature. Each of the 14 winners receives $25,000.