Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Not satisfied with their own abundant success, it seems, some people must decide for others if they are worthy or not. The following quotation is from "Kingmakers" by Stephen Henighan. The complete article can be found here:


"The first four nominees were introduced by Canadian actors. As soon as Atwood stood up to introduce the fifth shortlisted author, Vincent Lam, anyone who understood power in Canadian culture knew that Lam had won. Margaret Atwood does not introduce losers. By placing her authority behind Lam, she was giving the equivalent of el dedazo, the crook of the finger with which a Mexican president signals his successor. The image was so powerful that the next day’s Globe and Mail misreported the event, stating that Lam had received his Giller Prize from Atwood when, like every previous winner, he was handed his cheque by Jack Rabinovitch, founder of the prize. But in political terms, the Globe’s initial report—later retracted—was accurate.

"The peculiarly Canadian feature of Atwood’s intervention was her astonishing decision to tell in public the story of how Lam had approached her to read his manuscript while working as the ship’s doctor on an Arctic cruise on which Atwood was a passenger. The Family Compact takes for granted that advertising pre-existing links between old and new members of the establishment legitimizes the next generation in the eyes of the public. Our bourgeoisie, being weaker than that of other Western countries, must assert its cohesiveness in public. In the United States, the story of Atwood’s role in finding Lam a publisher would have remained the property of a small group of acquaintances educated at private colleges. In Great Britain, the story would have surfaced weeks later in a tabloid newspaper. Only in Canada could it have been broadcast on national television, prior to the awarding of the prize, to enable the old Wasp establishment to claim parentage over the new multicultural establishment. In an instant Vincent Lam, in contrast to previous “multicultural” Giller winners Vassanji, Rohinton Mistry and Austin Clarke—all of them relative loners, none of them born or raised in Canada, none of them able to boast an exemplary interracial marriage such as that between Lam and his Anglo-Greek-descended wife—became a member of the Family Compact and a potential teddy bear."

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