Trini wins Canadian Lit award

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 17:45

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.