What? Regular people are involved with the Giller?

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now: the Scotiabank Giller Prize people are asking for readers to nominate eligible titles for inclusion on this year’s longlist. There are scads of opinions out there about whether this is a good or bad thing and I’m not going to burden anyone with my thoughts for or against. However, I do love anything that gets people reading and talking about books. Love your books, people. LOVE THEM.

While it may seem strange that a very visible and cachet-laden literary prize is going user-friendly, it doesn’t really surprise me very much.

In the past few years, the Giller has been broadcast on national television, and shortlisted authors have walked an actual red carpet with varying degrees of discomfort and introduced at the gala by real live movie actors. These are all ways of bringing literature to the masses, so why should the development of the longlist be any different?

And as all my author friends know, this is a challenging time for books. E-books are changing the publishing industry very quickly, and we’ve all been forced to play catch-up. So none of us should be flabbergasted that publishers and literary prize organizations are doing everything they can to bring interaction to the reading experience. Open discussion is what everyone is aiming for in this social media world although, as yet, no one has developed a book that actually talks back to the reader (I should put on my inventor’s hat and get on that right now). But we have mobile apps that illustrate and animate the content of books, and we have authors who answer every last question from readers within minutes of receiving it. Yes! we’re all shouting. Books are fun and interesting too! Throw a virtual sheep at an author and she’ll poke you back! Huzzah!

Okay, I’m making fun. I have always been one hundred percent behind the accessibility of literature. We should care about our readers. We should have open and honest discussions. We should allow the public a peek into how prize juries work. Listen, I spent a week debating what book should win Canada Reads 2009 in full view of the Canadian people. I practice what I preach.

But at some point, it all becomes too much. On a personal level, I like to be able to unplug from my author persona and just be. You know, do things like sit in the shade and stare at the clouds. Or walk into a bookstore without checking on the stock of my books. Or just read something for fun. If I check my Facebook account every fifteen minutes, none of that unplugging stuff ever happens. Because even if there’s no action online, I’ll be obsessing about why there’s no action online.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that the Giller Prize is awesomely awesome. And that having the public vote this year is great because I have an eligible title out! If you want to nominate The Better Mother, please do. And then I’ll for sure make you my Facebook friend. That is, whenever I get around to creating a profile. Never mind. I’ll take you out for a drink instead.

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