For those that do not know what the heck my title means, here is a quick explanation. The Scotiabank Giller Awards are like the Oscars for a Canadian book geek like me.  But the longer version tells the story of a man who loves Canadian literature as much as he loved his late wife, Doris. This gala will always honour her name while celebrating some of our great Canadian authors.


2014 marks the 20 year anniversary of this very special event.  It was held in Toronto on Monday night with Mr. Rick Mercer at the helm as he worked hard to scrub the tarnished screen that was meant for Jian Gomeshi. Rick kept everything light-hearted as Canada celebrated this year’s shortlist which included The Betrayers (David Bezmozgis), Us Conductors (Sean Michaels), The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (Heather O’Neill), Tell (Frances Itani), All My Puny Surrows (Miriam Toews) and The Ever After of Ashwin Rao (Padma Viswanathan). All, of course, worthy finalists. My pick was All My Puny Surrows.


For those of us that could not make it to the big smoke for a star-studded evening with the literati, there were several Giller Light Bashes held around the country to help celebrate the event. Not only did we gather to support our literary community but the bash also helps to raise funds for Frontier College. This organization has been around since 1899 and has helped millions of Canadians not only read and write but they have aided in helping both young and old find their own voice in this very noisy world.

Halifax’s bash was held at the Atlantica Hotel and the roaring 1920’s theme did indeed add some extra sparkle to us usually “plain Jane” bookish types.  I managed to score my flapper girl dress at my favourite place to shop, Frenchy’s, for only five bucks.  Sweet.


I enjoy any excuse to dress up for a period piece.  My theatre days may be long behind me but I will always love a good costume party.  Complete with a feather in my hair.


The night started with wine of course, some lovely nibbles and an array of prizes to bid or buy tickets on.  The lady sitting next to me had her numbers drawn three different times.  I rubbed her for good luck and made mention that she could now give Shakespeare the finger.  I was referring to her winning a very cute Shakespearian finger puppet.  The wine had indeed kicked in by then.  I also became a little Twitter happy as I live-tweeted the event as much as I could.  At one point #TightsFree got thrown out there by the @gillerlighthfx crew as I mentioned my dislike for wearing what I like to refer to as “torture socks.”  I think it will catch on as next years theme no doubt. Everyone around me seemed to share in my joy of being out at a grown-up party.  Even my husband will admit that he shared a few chuckles here and there, despite being dragged along by me for most of the night.


The evening did not disappoint.  Six different panelists took the stage to do their own pitch for each of the Giller nominees.  I relished in hearing from local book lovers such as Kaleigh Trace, Heidi Hallett, Graham Steele, Brigid McWhirter, Sarah Emsley and Michael Hamm.  It was interesting to hear the different perspectives from each individual and the book they were celebrating. The lovely and very talented Stephanie Domet was Halifax’s guest host and kept everyone on time. She was a perfect fit to guide the evening’s festivities, being that she too is an author and the host of CBC’s Mainstreet on radio one.  I was in the mix of some great company and did my best to connect with Stephanie, Kaleigh and other amazing literary types throughout the evening.  Both these women, in particular, inspire me and being able to steal a few moments of their valuable time meant a lot. Everyone was very gracious and I felt part of something I could one day play a bigger role in supporting. I made sure to connect with Cheryl BlackRegional Adult Programming Facilitator for Halifax Public Library and committee member for the bash to express my interest in helping out at next years event.


The night ended with a few of us audience members being taken by surprise when Sean Michaels took home the Giller for Us Conductors. I really did think Miriam would win but in reality, I believe all the finalists were already winners.  Their names have been associated with one of Canada’s highest literary achievements. They will go down in our history books as some of the greatest writers our country has known. I would love to have my name written in that very book someday but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. I am not afraid to try and I am encouraged by those that love the written word as much as I do.

I am already looking forward to next years event.  And a big thank you to Giller Light HFX for my swag bag.  I really love The Novel Cure.  Red is my favourite colour and I have already found several ailments inside that I absolutely suffer from. Number one being “Household Chores” as mentioned on page 185.



Until next year Giller Light Bash HFX #TightsFree.

R.H. Downs