Alexis was on Monday night announced as the winner of the prize for Fifteen Dogs, published by Coach House Books. In an interview with Canada’s CTV News on Tuesday, Alexis said he was pleased to win.
“I am pleased, but I also scratch my head a little bit because it does not feel like I did anything different with this,” the author said. He said he spent Monday night celebrating with his family. “I had my family celebrating with me last night, so we were up screaming until about 2 in the morning.” Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His other previous books include Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf and, most recently, Pastoral, which was also nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was named a Globe and Mail Top 100 book of 2014. In addition to the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Fifteen Dogs has also been awarded the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Alexis lives in Toronto and is due to attend the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in 2016.
Of his prize-winning book, Alexis said, “The book is basically a bet between two Greek gods – Apollo and Hermes – about whether human consciousness would make creatures happy or more inclined to be unhappy and they give human consciousness to 15 dogs who therefore suffered the results of that consciousness.” The award to Alexis comes in the same week that Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in Poetry, one of the world’s major poetry awards, leading some to herald these developments as the mark of a new age in Trinidad literature.
“There is something afoot,” said Marina Salandy-Brown, director of the Bocas Lit Fest which literature from the Caribbean diaspora annually. “Every week brings news of another Caribbean writer being in the running for an important and prestigious international literary prize, or winning one.” She noted Alexis was shortlisted for the Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction in 2011.