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On Books: The Sleeping Car Porter shortlisted for the Giller Prize


Nearly 100 years ago a passenger train is moving across the expanse of the Canadian wilderness, and in that train exists a microcosm of contemporary society at that time.

There is a collection of mostly well-off white passengers and into this mix comes Baxter, a porter who is rendered invisible on two counts, as he is Black and gay. When a mudslide stalls the train in the middle of nowhere for two days, Baxter, whom the passengers call “George,” is forced to confront the specter of his own demons.

Eerily visceral, Suzette Mayr’s latest book The Sleeping Car Porter submerges the reader in a moment in time where the tensions of race, sexuality and one’s station in life are palpable.

Suzette Mayr is a Calgary based author who now finds her novel chosen for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize Short List. Tony King got on board the train with the author to talk about the mysterious romance of train travel, and what it feels like to be shortlisted for the Giller.