TORONTO — After spending eight years at the library toiling over her debut novel, The Golden Mean, British Columbia writer Annabel Lyon has been rewarded with nominations for three major Canadian literary prizes.
An engaging look at Aristotle’s relationship with Alexander the Great as told through the voice of the great philosopher, The Golden Mean was named a finalist Wednesday for a Governor General’s Literary Award, worth $25,000.
It has also made the short lists for the $25,000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
“It hasn’t really had time to sink in yet, I’ve got to say,” Lyon, 38, said breathlessly Wednesday over the phone from her Vancouver home, just minutes after dropping off her four-year-old daughter at pre-school with her two-year-old son in tow.
“I woke up and had to get the kids ready for school and then the phone rang and I’m sort of answering the phone with one hand and feeding my daughter with the other hand and then I had to drive her to school and I’ve only just gotten home.
“So it hasn’t sunk in yet, really.”
Lyon, who has also published two collections of short fiction, spent eight years writing The Golden Mean, acting on a passion she developed for Aristotle during her studies at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University.
The University of British Columbia creative writing instructor recalls being pregnant with her second child in 2007 and waddling her way to the library so she could write the book while her husband, Bryant Ibbetson, looked after their little girl.
“I took the SkyTrain, and we live at the top of a steep hill, and I did it until I was too big with the pregnancy to make it up the hill anymore,” she said with a laugh.
“He was a big baby, and then after he was born, starting when he was about six months old, then I started again and would work in the New Westminster library.”
Writer Judy Fong Bates, who read 181 books as part of the fiction jury along with Wayne Johnston of Toronto and Shaena Lambert of Vancouver, said Lyon is “certainly a writer to watch and her project was certainly very daunting.”