Aug 07, 2017

By Bob Sheppard

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Jack Rabinovitch, the creator of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for literature has died.

He died Sunday afternoon in Toronto at the age of 87.

According to an obituary on the Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel website, Rabinovitch died as result of a catastrophic fall at his home last week.

Rabinovitch, who was born in Montreal, had several careers, including real estate, food retail, and journalism.

The Giller Prize was created in 1994 when Rabinovitch wanted to honour his wife Doris Giller, a literary journalist who died the previous year. It recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction, in long format or in short stories.

He says the idea came to him while having drinks at a bar in Montreal with famed Canadian author Mordecai Richler.

The Giller Prize at first awarded 25-thousand dollars to the winner, but when it teamed up with Scotiabank the prize money became 50-thousand dollars for the winner and 5-thousand for the finalists. The winner now receives 100-thousand dollars.

Authors fortunate enough to have their book nominated would likely feel the “Giller Effect.” The Giller website says more than 2.5 million copies of nominee books were sold in the first 10 years of the award.

Past winners include Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler, Alice Munro and Michael Ondaatje.

It was while working on his B.A. degree in Honours English at McGill University in the early 1950s that Rabinovitch developed his love of literature.

Every year at the gala dinner and awards night for the Giller Prize, Jack Rabinovitch would say: “For the price of dinner in this town you can buy all the nominated books. So eat at home and buy the books.”

A funeral will be held Wednesday.

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