Congratulations to Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia! Her book, THE SON OF THE HOUSE, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. The shortlist, comprising just five books, was announced on Tuesday, 5 October.
Of THE SON OF THE HOUSE, the jury said: “It is a delightful gift to find a book you feel fortunate to have read, akin to discovering a treasure. That is the case with The Son of the House. The novel explores issues of patriarchy and classism, themes of friendship and loss through the lenses of two very different yet unexpectedly connected women in Nigeria. Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia writes a modern novel with fairytale elements and prose that punches you in the gut, leaving you wonderfully stunned by the time the book is finished.”
THE SON OF THE HOUSE is Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut novel, published in South Africa by Penguin Random House in 2019 and in North America by Dundurn Press in 2021. It has also been published in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Armenia and the United Arab Emirates. It shares the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist with Omar El Akkad’s WHAT STRANGE PARADISE (published by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada), Angélique Lalonde’s story collection GLORIOUS FRAZZLED BEINGS (published by House of Anansi), Jordan Tannahill’s THE LISTENERS (published by HarperCollins Canada) and Miriam Toews’ FIGHT NIGHT (published by Knopf Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada).
The plot revolves around an encounter under duress between Nwabulu and Julie, two women from vastly different backgrounds. They’re united by the same societal pressure: to marry and reproduce. Set in Nigeria, the novel is alive with local culture and family drama. It uplifts the resilience of women navigating patriarchal society.
Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer of Nigerian origin who is based in both Nigeria and Canada. She graduated with a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and works primarily in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children.
THE SON OF THE HOUSE has been met with critical acclaim. It won the SprinNG Women Author Prize 2020. It also received the Best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019.
The Scotiabank Giller Prize rewards outstanding Canadian fiction. It was established by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, author Doris Giller, in 1994. Scotiabank came on board in 2005, quadrupling the financial value of the award. The 2021 winner will receive $100 000 and each finalist $10 000.
The 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize jury is chaired by Canadian author Zalika Reid-Benta. She is assisted by fellow writers Megan Gail Coles, Joshua Whitehead, Tash Aw and Joshua Ferris. Of the 132 works submitted for the prize, twelve were longlisted and five shortlisted.
The winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced on 8 November at a ceremony in Toronto hosted by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Rupi Kaur.