On November 18, Scotiabank’s 2019 Giller Prize was awarded to University of Toronto’s alumni, Ian Williams, for his debut novel Reproduction.

Williams is a three-time graduate from the University of Toronto (U of T), earning a Masters and PhD in English.

He began his undergraduate degree at U of T with plans to attend medical school. By the end of his first year, his love for literature overthrew his original plans and Williams ended up changing his major to a double in English and Psychology.

Following his education at U of T, Williams became a successful author and published poet as well as an assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. Williams also holds the title of Griffin Poetry Prize Trustee.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize is a prestigious award given to Canadian authors of both novels and short stories. Established in 1994, it originated as a charitable organization and currently works with Scotiabank to promote the growth of Canadian literary talent. Williams will join a long list of celebrated Canadians who have also received this honour, including Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Mordecai Richler.

Many current students take pride in knowing that a fellow alumnus has accomplished so much in his career. When asked about Williams’ recent award, students at U of T were excited and honoured to attend the same institution.

“As an English major myself, I think it is so cool that someone from our university, who graduated with the same major as me, has accomplished such a huge honour,” said Caitlyn Rajkumar, a fourth-year English and Political Science student at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).

According to CBC News, Williams received his prize with his local hero, Margaret Atwood, in audience.

“You have no idea how special this is for me,” said Williams, according to CBC News.

Ian Williams gives credit to Margaret Atwood for filling the majority of his childhood with her poetry.

“I’m sure a lot of people feel this exact way about her, and she gives us this sense of pride as well. It’s just so much she’s done for this country,” said Williams about Margaret Atwood.

Williams’ prize-winning novel Reproduction is about the complexity of intimate relationships and growth. It celebrates the bond between individuals and the experience of life and loss throughout the years. Serious but funny, Reproduction tells the story of families coming together, and what it means to be a family, without being bonded by blood.

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