Prizing Literature

The Celebration and Circulation of National Culture

Table of contents



  1. Prizing Canadian Literature
  2. The ‘Sri Lankan Poet, Domiciled in Canada’: Michael Ondaatje’s Territories, Citizenships, and Cosmopolitanisms”
  3. “The “American-Not-American’: Carol Shields’s Border Crossings and Gendered Citizenships
  4. The ‘Bombay-born, Canadian-based Banker’: Rohinton Mistry’s Hospitality at the Threshold
  5. Un Québécois francophone écrivant en anglais’: Yann Martel’s Zoos, Hospitals, and Hotels

Conclusion, or Discrepant Invitations

Works Cited


When Canadian authors win prestigious literary prizes, from the Governor General’s Literary Award to the Man Booker Prize, they are celebrated not only for their achievements, but also for contributing to this country’s cultural capital. Discussions about culture, national identity, and citizenship are particularly complicated when the honorees are immigrants, like Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, or Rohinton Mistry. Then there is the case of Yann Martel, who is identified both as Canadian and as rootlessly cosmopolitan. How have these writers’ identities been recalibrated in order to claim them as ‘representative’ Canadians?

Prizing Literature is the first extended study of contemporary award winning Canadian literature and the ways in which we celebrate its authors. Gillian Roberts uses theories of hospitality to examine how prize-winning authors are variously received and honoured depending on their citizenship and the extent to which they represent ‘Canadianness. ’ Prizing Literature sheds light on popular and media understandings of what it means to be part of a multicultural nation.


'Prizing Literature is a perceptive, theoretically sophisticated, and elegantly argued contribution to the growing study of Canadian literary promotional culture. It fills a notable gap in scholarship on the visibility of Canadian literature and will certainly become an important book in the field. Gillian Roberts' engaging writing makes Prizing Literature an accessible book for all culturally informed readers. '

- Lorraine York, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University