Trini Wins Canadian Lit Award
Trinidadian born poet and author, Ian Williams has won Canada’s richest literary award for fiction, for his novel Reproduction.
Williams was named as the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize, in a ceremony on Monday night, beating out five other authors for the prize.
The first time novelist, who is an assistant professor of poetry in the Creative Writing programme at the University of British Columbia, said he was shocked to earn the prize.
“It’s a total surprise, I mean there’s no preparing for it. Even in your wildest fantasy like you imagine it and there’s nothing like it. Maybe it’s what pro athletes feel like or when tennis players win Wimbledon or the US Open. Like we don’t write books for this moment and then it happens and you’re totally off guard as a human,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He said the win made him reflect on his past, including his time being raised in Trinidad and Tobago before his family migrated to Canada.
“Incredibly special and all of your history just kind of rushes back to you. I imagine myself as a boy in Brampton, I imagined myself as a boy in Trinidad,” said the 40-year-old.
Williams’s novel Reproduction presents the story of Felicia and her teenage son Army after their move into a basement apartment. There they formed a bond with the house’s owner and his two children which becomes complicated when strange gifts from Army’s wealthy, absent father start to be delivered to their new home.
“There’s a lot of history that goes into standing right here. I think we all come from families, right and the families are not perfect, they’re not messy and we’ve been novelists fascinated by how families are formed and how families are destroyed and how families are reformed and it’s all love that keeps people together.
It’s all love that keeps us saying well I’m going to try another family and I’m going try after to find someone to love me like it’s like that persistence of that universal. It doesn’t matter culture it doesn’t matter the nationality,” said Williams, who also stressed the importance of writers in the modern era.
“By writing fiction, we leave behind a record of what it’s like to be alive in 2019. One hundred years from now, we can look at the news reports and then we can read the writers and realize everything was more complicated than the news suggested,” he said.