He was up against four other books that sounded quite interesting in varying degrees too. Anne Michaels' The Winter Vault and Colin McAdam's Fall each sounded like they'd be particularly good reads. I'm not sure if it could be considered an upset win due to the fact that this was his first foray into a fictional work, at least of this magnitude, but I think some of the Canadian literati were probably caught off guard by his win.
The story takes place in the northern region of Nova Scotia, in one of the more staunchly devout areas, and deals with the cover-up of child molestation by priests in the diocese. It's somewhat timely that this book would win during a year when Nova Scotian churches are under fire yet again due to the abhorrent (or allegedly abhorrent) actions of certain priests and bishops in the past--shocking to learn just how much went on during the "good ol' days." Lindon was quick to point out the book was written and published prior to the most recent case of Roman Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey being arrested and charged with possessing child pornography.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to mention the Gillers and The Bishop's Man is that I've mumbled for some time about wanting to read some quality Canadian literature, yet I haven't really gone out to look for any. Oh sure, I've read some enjoyable books by Canadian authors, but their nationality was purely incidental. I think, in 2010, I need to make a resolution to read more Canadian fiction. And the Giller short list looks like a good place to start. Beyond that, I also want to become better acquainted with Canadian authors that deal in dark fiction, whether it be horror, fantasy, etc.
I'm open to suggestions, people. Is there a Canuck's book that you've read and liked enough to recommend?
If you're looking for one yourself, I'll point a finger towards Timothy Findley's Not Welcome on the Voyage. Imagine a very skewed, and more than a little disturbing, re-imagining of the Noah's Ark fable.