A North Okanagan author is in the running for Canada’s most prestigious literary award.
Brian Thomas Isaac’s debut novel All the Quiet Places cracked the longlist for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
For Isaac, coming from a less-than extensive education background didn’t prepare him for the news of his nomination.
“If someone had told me when I walked out of school with only a grade 8 education that at the age of 72, I would be longlisted for the best fiction book in Canada I would not have believed it,” said Isaac, who has been overwhelmed by the support his novel has garnered over the past year.
After leaving school, Isaac had a short career riding bulls in local rodeos. He then went on to work the oil patch in northern Alberta and eventually retired as a bricklayer.
Isaac was born in 1950 on the Okanagan Indian Reserve. He now lives with his wife in the Salmon River Valley near Falkland. His novel is set in the same geographical area he’s spent his life.
All the Quiet Places tells the coming-of-age story of Eddie Toma, a Syilx boy who lives with his mother and his little brother on the far edge of the Okanagan Indian Reserve. Eddie’s life is governed by the decisions of the adults around him. His mother is determined that he learn the ways of the white world by sending him to school in Falkland.
The novel progresses to Eddie’s teen years, when his future seems more secure after he finds a job and his long-time crush on his white neighbour is reciprocated. But whenever things are looking up, circumstances beyond his control come crashing down around him.
The novel tells the story of what can happen when every adult in a person’s life has been affected by colonialism.
Looking back on his 12-year-old self, Isaac says, “being nominated for such a prestigious book award would have seemed laughable … or to live that long! To Elana Rabinovitch and the 2022 Giller Prize jury, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Isaac’s novel is one of 14 nominated books. There are seven first-time nominees and no previous winners.
The other authors and titles that made it into the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist are:
• Billy-Ray Belcourt for his novel, A Minor Chorus, published by Hamish Hamilton Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
• André Forget for his novel, In the City of Pigs, published by Dundurn Press
• Kim Fu for her short story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, published by Coach House Books
• Rawi Hage for his short story collection, Stray Dogs, published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
• Sheila Heti for her novel, Pure Colour, published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
• Conor Kerr for his novel, Avenue of Champions, published by Nightwood Editions
• Suzette Mayr for her novel, The Sleeping Car Porter, published by Coach House Books
• Noor Naga for her novel, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, published by Graywolf Press
• André Narbonne for his novel Lucien & Olivia, published by Black Moss Press
• Dimitri Nasrallah for his novel, Hotline, published by Véhicule Press
• Fawn Parker for her novel, What We Both Know, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
• Tsering Yangzom Lama for her novel, We Measure The Earth With Our Bodies, published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada
• Antoine Wilson for his novel, Mouth to Mouth, published by Simon & Schuster Canada