Blue Met 2014 Literary Prize: Canada’s Literary Prizes

As far as literary prizes go, one of Montreal’s biggest international prizes is the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Prize. Every year since 2000 we’ve awarded the prize to some of the most beloved writers in the world. They include such luminaries as Norman Mailer (2001), Mavis Gallant (2002), Carlos Fuentes (2005), Joyce Carol Oates (2012) and Colm Tóibín (2013).

So who’s gonna win for 2014? This year we had a long list of nearly 100 writers from all over the globe. After deliberations, discussions, arguments (some heated), we were left with this respectable short list:

Haruki Murakami, literary prizes

Haruki Murakami

 Haruki Murakami: perennial Nobel Prize nominee. One of Japan’s biggest names (writer or otherwise). His books have been made into movies. He writes about running. He loves Cutty Sark and Miles Davis. He has his pulse on what’s happening in contemporary Japan which is not a point of view we often have access to in Canada. 

 

 

Richard Ford, literary prizes

Or perhaps Richard Ford?

Richard Ford: he should win just for naming a novel Canada. The audacity of it. Especially since it’s about bank robbers (or, at least, they play a major role in it). But in addition to books set on the high plains of Saskatchewan, he writes about New Jersey hooligans, traveling in Mexico and mid-life crises. Plus he’s a real gentleman as about 25 people who’ve met him have told me. A real southerner who hasn’t written about the south in a long time (someone recently told me he used to teach Richard Ford stories at “Old Miss,” trying to instill a sense of pride in young southerners about one of their own.)

 

Barbara Kingsolver, literary prizes

Barbara Kingsolver?

Barbara Kingsolver: environmentalist, historian, complex creator of stories that straddle the personal and the political. Kingsolver is an underappreciated talent. Sure, she’s made money off her books. Sure, Oprah digs her. But that almost undercuts the seriousness with which she spends months and even years researching, writing, dedicating her life to her craft. She’s written to me twice (on paper, mailed with stamps), the kindest and most heart-felt thank you notes for invitations to the Festival. I have four hand-written letters in my office from writers: two are hers. And when she’s not crafting amazing novels like The Lacuna (personally I adore this novel), she’s mentoring young writers and putting her money where her mouth (or pen) is by supporting important environmental causes.

 

Eduardo Galeano, literary prizes

Or Eduardo Galeano?

Eduardo Galeano: OK I have to admit that I have had a soft spot in my heart for Galeano since I was a young man backpacking through Latin America. Long before the late Hugo Chavez handed over a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America to Barack Obama to “introduce” him to the real story of Latin America’s poor. He’s the kind of writer whose book you keep in your backpack for months at a time, dipping in and out of it, alternately moved, tickled, shocked, appalled and knocked over.

One of these amazing writers is going to be awarded our 2014 Blue Metropolis International Literary Prize and he or she will be announced at our official press conference next week: April 2, 2014 at Hotel 10 in downtown Montreal. It’s also means a check for $10,000 and first-class travel to the Festival, in addition to rocking glass-engraved trophy!

 

More than that, all 233 events, over 100 writers from 15 countries, events in six languages: it all gets launched next week and then that big clock that hangs over all we’ve been doing since September really starts ticking.

 

Blue Metropolis, our 16th edition, takes place April 28 to May 4, 2014. Stay tuned for our Grand Prize winner and the 232 other events!

PS: new blogging interface so bear with me as I get used to all these tools and make it look sharper…