Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Emma Donoghue

September 27, 2020

Emma Donoghue’s novel, The Pull of the Stars has been longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is an Irish emigrant twice over: she spent eight years in Cambridge, England, before moving to Canada’s London, Ontario. She is best known for her novels, which range from the historical (The Wonder, Slammerkin, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter) to the contemporary (Akin, Stir-Fry, Hood, Landing). Her international bestseller Room was a New York Times Best Book of 2010 and was a finalist for the Man Booker, Commonwealth, and Orange Prizes; her screen adaptation, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, was nominated for four Academy Awards.

What/who inspires you to write?

History has been my most frequent trigger – obscure episodes from the lives of underdogs that have only left the faintest traces on the written record.

Do you have a favourite passage/quote from a book?

Exultation is the going of an inland soul to sea. – Emily Dickinson

Is there an activity you do to help inspire your writing?

No, even before I was a mother of two, I deliberately cultivated an anywhere/anytime mindset about writing: I open my laptop and fire away.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?

I have lunch and get on with the next project.

What are you reading now?

The New Yorker.

What is your favorite CanLit book?

I adore Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

What would your job be if you weren’t an author?

Probably a literature prof, but I fear I might be an impatient and ungenerous one who’d always want to get back to writing.

Is there a book that you find yourself reading over and over again?

I love the troubling fantasies of Alan Garner, and I used to read his Red Shift over and over.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

I wrote a poem when I was about seven and it was the most exciting sensation I’d ever known.

What inspired you to write your Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated book?

An article in The Economist magazine about the 1918 flu pandemic.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

If it could be reduced to a line, there’d be no point reading a whole novel, would there?

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for the latest Scotiabank Giller Prize news, including when the 2020 shortlist is announced on October 5, 2020.