Ian Williams wins 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize for debut novel



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Ian Williams, an assistant professor in the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing program, has been named the winner of the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his debut novel Reproduction, taking home a prize of $100,000. The prize is Canada’s largest literary award and recognizes the very best of Canadian fiction.

The announcement was made at a black-tie dinner and award ceremony hosted by Canadian singer-songwriter and actress Jann Arden and attended by members of the publishing, media and arts communities.

“The UBC Creative Writing Program congratulates Ian on this remarkable achievement. We are proud that he is part of our literary community and delighted to see his work recognized by such a prestigious award,” says program chair Alix Ohlin.

Reproduction is a hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented set in a polyglot suburb of Toronto. The book is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists family isn’t a matter of blood.

Of the book, the five-member jury panel wrote:

“Williams’s Reproduction is many things at once. It’s an engrossing story of disparate people brought together and also a masterful unfolding of unexpected connections and collisions between and across lives otherwise separated by race, class, gender and geography. It’s a pointed and often playful plotting out of individual and shared stories in the close spaces of hospital rooms, garages, mansions and apartments, and a symphonic performance of resonant and dissonant voices, those of persons wanting to impress, persuade, deny, or beguile others, and always trying again.”

Williams has been a faculty member with UBC Creative Writing since 2017. He teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses on writing poetry and fiction, along with supervising theses for the program’s MFA degree.

This year marks the most UBC Creative Writing affiliates nominated for a Scotiabank Giller Prize with Alix Ohlin, program chair, shortlisted for her novel, Dual Citizens, and MFA alumni Megan Gail Coles shortlisted for her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Gun Club and Michael Christie longlisted for his novel, Greenwood.