Download 10 Giller Prize-Winning Audiobooks for Free
Get the best Canadian audiobooks in your library
When it comes to literary talent, Canada punches well above its weight. That talent has been cultivated by a prize culture that shines the spotlight on the best titles of each year, propelling great stories onto bestseller lists at home and around the world. In Canada, award-winning titles are always on our radar and at the forefront of Canada’s burgeoning literary prize culture is the Scotiabank Giller Prize, which celebrates the very best in Canadian fiction year after year and offers authors the largest cash prize for fiction awarded annually in the country. For nearly two months, Audible is making 10 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning audiobooks available to download for free. It’s a chance to get the best of Canadian writing in your library.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize has been awarded to some of the most significant Canadian writing over the years, and brings glamour and prestige to the Canadian publishing world through its annual gala. Started in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife Doris Giller to honour Canadian novelists and short story writers, the prize’s first black tie gala was such a success that the event would soon be broadcast nationally on the CBC.
In 2005, the literary award teamed up with Scotiabank, increasing the size of the total prize purse. It grew steadily to the current $140,000, with $100,000 going to the winner and $10,000 to each finalist. Not only does the sizable prize support writers themselves, allowing them to spend more time focusing on their art, but the support and publicity of the Scotiabank Giller Prize also introduces bold new fiction to Canadian audiences. The Giller Prize propels Canadian writers onto an international stage, and many winning titles and nominees have gone on to be published in the US and UK markets as well as translated into foreign languages.
Free Scotiabank Giller Prize-Winning Audiobooks from Audible
From April 29 to June 28, Audible is giving Canadians the gift of blissful literary escape by making ten previous Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning audiobooks free. They’re free to download into your library and, once downloaded, are yours to keep long term.
Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning audiobooks are the perfect way to explore the best in Canadian fiction. Below you’ll find a summary of the titles that will be available until June 28. Many of them are Canadian classics that have been adapted into movies and TV series in part thanks to the reputations they earned after winning the prize.
Barney’s Version, Mordecai Richler
Mordecai Richler’s iconic 10th novel is a masterclass in unreliable narrators. The story is told from the perspective of Barney Panofsky, an aging Montreal libertine defending himself against the accusation that he murdered his best friend. It’s a journey across decades, continents and marriages that always comes back to Richler’s Montreal.
Runaway, Alice Munro
The Giller isn’t the only prize Alice Munro has won in her long and illustrious career. When she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, it cemented her status as Canada’s most internationally-acclaimed writer. Munro has earned her name as a short story writer, and Runaway is one of her best-known collections. Known for her stories set in Huron County in Southern Ontario, Munro’s strong sense of regionalism has ironically made her popular across the globe.
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
The winner of the 1995 prize, A Fine Balance is set in India in the mid-1970s. It’s a story about four people whose lives become entangled during a State of Emergency when they wind up sharing the same apartment. Not all great Canadian stories take place in Canada, and A Fine Balance is the perfect example of Canadian literature’s cross-border perspective.
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood has become a household name in Canada and beyond, thanks to her prolific body of work spanning six decades. Alias Grace is historical fiction based on a real-life murder that happened in 1843 in Kingston, Ontario. Grace Marks is a woman in prison on murder charges, but she can’t remember anything about that day. An American doctor is then brought in to help bring back her memories. Even better, the audiobook is narrated by Canadian actress Sarah Gadon and Atwood herself.
Through Black Spruce, Joseph Boyden
Through Black Spruce is Boyden’s follow up to his critically acclaimed debut, Three Day Road. It follows Will Bird, a Cree bush pilot who is lying in a coma. Standing vigil is estranged niece Annie. As their stories unfold, it becomes clear that these two characters are searching for their place in the world.
The Sentimentalists, Johanna Skibsrud
No other title encapsulates what a big deal it is to win the Scotiabank Giller Prize than The Sentimentalists. When the book won the 2010 award, audiences acted quickly, and the publisher had difficulty keeping up. Gaspereau Press, a small, Nova Scotia-based press that specializes in hand-crafted covers, raced to produce enough stock to meet the demand. International publication deals soon followed, making Skibsrud’s debut about a Toronto woman’s journey of self-discovery an overnight bestseller.
419, Will Ferguson
Based on the famous 419 scam, an advanced-fee con that starts with an email requesting help from a stranger, Will Ferguson’s 419 is an immersive narrative of chance collisions and desperate actions. 419 also marked Ferguson’s personal transformation from a travel writer and humourist into a serious literary novelist.
Hellgoing, Lynn Coady
Hellgoing, a collection of nine short stories, was also shortlisted for the 2013 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book. These stories are about the messes people make in their lives, failures to communicate and the struggle to find resolutions in relationships that just aren’t that simple.
Us Conductors, Sean Michaels
When Us Conductors was announced as the winner in 2014, it was life changing news for the young, debut novelist, Sean Michaels. In his acceptance speech he called the prize “an unimaginable gift.” Based on the tragic life of Lev Termen, the inventor of the theremin, Us Conductors was praised by one jury member for its ability to make music sing from the pages.
Fifteen Dogs, André Alexis
Fifteen Dogs asks what happens when you give dogs human consciousness and language overnight. Suddenly given the gift of complex thought (by a pair of Greek gods wandering through the streets of Toronto), a pack of fifteen dogs escapes a veterinary clinic and begins to confront the problems of government, ethics and relationships. Fifteen Dogs was also the winner of CBC Canada Reads 2017.
Keep the Best of Canadian Fiction Forever
These timeless Canadian titles are great additions to any collection, and you can enjoy them for a lifetime. Whether you’re looking for an intro to the best in Canadian fiction audiobooks or you’re always on the hunt for more homegrown stories from your favourite writers, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winners are a great place to start. And, you can find many more captivating Canadian titles at Audible. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, Canada’s literary talent burns bright and there are hundreds of audiobooks to listen to.
Canada is home to incredible talent. Start with these free downloads of Scotiabank Giller Prize-winners, and rest assured there’s plenty more to explore. Head to our Facebook page to let us know what you think or share your great Canadian recommendations!