Colwood author Esi Edugyan shares what it means to win Giller Prize for second time


WATCH: An author from Colwood says she is still in “disbelief” after winning one of Canada’s top literary awards for the second time. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind for local author Esi Eduygan.

“It hasn’t fully sunk in,” Eduygan told CHEK News at a book signing in Langford this weekend.

The author from Colwood took home this year’s $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for her latest novel, Washington Black, at an awards ceremony in Toronto earlier this month.

Published by Patrick Crean Editions, the book follows the journey of an 11-year-old boy who escapes slavery at a Barbados sugar plantation.

“I ended up telling the story of a man looking for his own sense of freedom and reconstructing his identity after a childhood of pain,” Edugyan explained.

Edugyan, a graduate from the University of Victoria, admits she didn’t expect to win the award.

“I totally didn’t feel like I was going to win because I had previously won,” Edugyan said.

This is the second time Edugyan has won the prestigious literary award.

In 2011, she received the prize for her novel Half-Blood Blues. 

“The two books that won the prize are so vastly different,”Edugyan said. “I now feel really empowered to keep writing things that are wildly different from each other.”

Edugyan shared why she feels it’s vital for authors to share the stories of marginalized people at a time when many forms of truth-telling are “under siege.”

“You just have to be true to what you’re writing and just run with it,” Edugyan explained.

Washington Black was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Writers’ Trust fiction award.

Edugyan plans to spend the cash prize on paying off a recent home renovation.

“We did some big house renovations over the last couple of years and we still haven’t paid those off so this will go to that,” she said with a laugh.

Past winners of the Giller Prize include Andre Alexis, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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