Scotiabank Giller Prize Acceptance Speeches

2016 Giller Prize acceptance speech
Madeleine Thien
November 7, 2016

The following is a transcript of 2016 Giller Prize winner Madeleine Thien’s moving acceptance speech. Read the text and hear the words.




First, thank you to the jury. I thank you for your time, for lending yourselves to these books, for being transported.

To my fellow nominees, you have moved and inspired me, and I know we are in it for the long haul together.

To my partner, Rawi Hage, to my father and my stepmother, to my beloved friends – I want to tell you that I love you and that the love and faith you have given me has sustained me.

I wish my mother was here. She arrived in Canada 42 years ago and passed away too young in 2002. She wanted me to be free in this world, to live with confidence, to love and be loved. She taught me how to be kind and how to be brave.

I want to end this with the words of another writer, the words of my beloved, Rawi Hage. A character in his novel is asked, “What do you believe in? What do you live for?” and he answers:


“What do the stars believe in, Zainab? Where do the dead horses go? What do the birds worship, and what do the rivers live for?”

Thank you.

2014 Giller Prize acceptance speech
Sean Michaels
November 10, 2014

The following is a transcript of 2014 Giller Prize winner Sean Michaels’ rather wonderful acceptance speech. Read the text, hear the words, get a glimpse of what Sean was holding at the podium …



I must first thank the Giller Prize, its sponsors, and especially jurists Shauna Singh Baldwin, Justin Cartwright and Francine Prose. This mere nomination changed my life.

I want to thank my unbelievably splendid wife, Thea Metcalfe.

My great parents, Arlen and Jan, and my sister, Robin.

I want to thank the Cocteau Twins song “Lorelei” and Tim Hecker’s “In The Fog II”. Andrew Roberts for the book’s jacket. Amanda, Ruta and everyone at Random House. The theremin scholar Albert Glinsky.

Thank you to anyone who has ever read my book, whether you liked it or not. For spending some hours with me and Lev and electricity.

My beloved family and friends, especially, in this past year, Daphne Elwick, Raffi, Neale, Maryam, Vinny, Dan, Mollie, Toby, Stephen, Stephen and Catherine. Readers of Said the Gramophone, you secret gang. My writing group, the Soul Gazers: Melissa Bull, Anna Leventhal and Jeff Miller.

And particularly I want to thank everyone in writing and publishing who took a chance on me when they had no reason to. I say this to the people in this room: as a newer writer, it is an unimaginable gift when one of those people who seems to live in the clouds reaches down with kind words or trust. We need to do this more often.

And so especially I want to thank my unwavering agent, Meredith Kaffel, who started everything. My editors, Anne Collins and Meg Storey. And these writers who, maybe unbeknownst to them, pointed me here tonight: Carl Wilson, Anthony Marra, Pasha Malla, Matthew Derby, Efrim Menuck, Nicolas Dickner, Carmine Starnino, Joel Yanofsky and John K Samson.

In the same way, I want to thank the other finalists tonight. David, Frances, Heather, Miriam, Padma: you were the most incredible inspirations; you became the kindest companions.

Finally, the inverse of what I said about generosity from above. As we have been reminded in recent months, there are people in our little corner of culture who behave monstrously. We have to reckon with that, and change it. Each of us does. We must believe women, and the men too, mostly. We must tell good stories, and buy every book. And as the poet Sina Queyras wrote, “Let’s go forth and undo harm. Let’s go forth and do.”

closed-quotesThank you so much for this terrific honour.