Ghanaian–Canadian writer wins the $100,000 Soctiabank Giller Prize
By Rosie Awori
Ghanaian –Canadian writer, Esi Edugyan won the $100,000 Soctiabank Giller Prize for her novel, Washington Black.
This is her second time clenching the prize, in 2011 her novel, Half-Blood, also won. This makes Edugyan the third author to win the Giller Prize twice.
Washington Black traces the life of 11-year-old, George Washington “Wash” Black who is born into slavery on Faith Plantation in Barbados.
The cruel Erasmus Wilde owns the plantation and Wash is watched over by Big Kit, a spiritual woman who longs for her life before her enslavement.
“Wash” manages to escape from the plantation with the help of the owner’s kind brother and the adventure continues from there.
In accepting the Edugyan, who is Canadian born to Ghanaian parent said she was not expecting to win and she had not even prepared a speech.
“In a climate in which so many forms of truth telling are under siege, this feels like a really wonderful and important celebration of words,” she said as she received her prize.
The New York Times Book Review praised the novel for “complicating the historical narrative by focusing on one unique and self-led figure.” While The New Yorker praises both the novel’s success as historical fiction and at taking on grand themes such as love and freedom, writing “That striving—the delicate, indomitable, and often doomed power of human love—haunts.
Born and raised in Alberta Calgary, Edugyan now calls Victoria, B.C home. She studied creative writing at the University of Victoria and earned a Master’s degree at John Hopkins University.
Her first book was titled the Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Hurston Wright Legacy award in 2005.
In 2011 she copped the Giller Prize with her second book Half Blood, which was also short listed for the Man Booker prize.
Washington Black is her third book and it earns her the 2018 Giller which is in its 25th year.
Each year the Giller awards a Canadian writer of an English novel or short story a $100,000 for the top prize and $10,000 to each of the finalists.