2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury

The Scotiabank Giller Prize is pleased to announce the award-winning, five-member jury panel for the 2021 Prize. They are Award winning Canadian authors Megan Gail Coles, Zalika Reid-Benta (jury chair) and Joshua Whitehead, Malaysian writer and Whitbread and Commonwealth award winner, Tash Aw and American author and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize, Joshua Ferris.

High-resolution photos of the jury are available on the media resources page.

Tash Aw

Tash Aw was born in Taiwan to Malaysian parents and grew up in Kuala Lumpur. He moved to England in his teens and studied Law at the University of Cambridge and Warwick. After working as a lawyer for four years, he studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. His first novel, The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), won the 2005 Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific Region Best First Book). His subsequent novels include Map of the Invisible World (2009) and Five Star Billionaire (2013). In 2019, Aw published We, the Survivors, with Fourth Estate. His work of short fiction Sail won the O. Henry Prize in 2013 and he has been published in A Public Space and the landmark Granta 100, amongst others.

Megan Gail Coles

Megan Gail Coles is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland, National Theatre School of Canada and University of British Columbia. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Poverty Cove Theatre Company for whom she has written numerous award-winning plays. Her debut short fiction collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award, the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award and earned her the Writers’ Trust of Canada 5×5 Prize. Her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a contender for CBC Canada Reads and recently won the BMO Winterset Award. Originally from Savage Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Megan lives in St. John’s where she is the Executive Director of Riddle Fence and a PhD candidate at Concordia University. Megan’s debut poetry collection is forthcoming from House of Anansi this fall.

Joshua Ferris

Joshua Ferris is the author of three previous novels, Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, and a collection of stories, The Dinner Party. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was named one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” writers in 2010. To Rise Again at a Decent Hour won the Dylan Thomas Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. Ferris lives in New York.

Zalika Reid Benta

Zalika Reid Benta is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection Frying Plantain won the 23rd annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction. Frying Plantain was shortlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Awards, the 2020 Trillium Book Award and longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The collection is currently nominated for the 2021 White Pine Award and was shortlisted for the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award presented by the Ontario Library Association. Reid Benta is also the winner of the 2019 Byblacks People’s Choice Awards for Best Author. Frying Plantain has been on numerous “must read” lists from Buzzfeed, Bustle, Refinery29, Chatelaine Magazine, Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail, and was also listed as one of Indigo’s 50 “Best Books of 2019”. Reid Benta was the June 2019 Writer in Residence for Open Book and she was listed in CBC’s “6 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019”. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, was the 2019 John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writers’ Studio. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore.

Joshua Whitehead

Joshua Whitehead is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) which was shortlisted for the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. He is also the author of Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018) which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. It won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Whitehead is currently working on a third manuscript titled, Making Love with the Land to be published with Knopf Canada, which explores the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and, most prominently, mental health through a nêhiyaw lens. His work has been published in such venues as Prairie Fire, CV2, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CNQ, Write, and Red Rising Magazine.