Novelist Joseph Boyden is the winner of the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of the country's most prestigious literary awards. Boyden receives $50,000 in prize money for his book "Through Black Spruce."

He thanked his mother for his win, saying that through her "selfless love and hard work" she helped guide him on his proper path.

The announcement was made at the 15th annual Scotiabank Giller Prize gala. Hosted by Seamus O'Regan, co-anchor of CTV's Canada AM, the black-tie literary event held at Toronto's Four Seasons Hotel was broadcast live on Bravo! and on CTV's Video Player.

Boyden's win puts the spotlight on a new wave of Canadian writers who bring divergent themes and world perspectives to their books.

Two women and three men were nominated for this year's prize.

Montreal writer Rawi Hage became toast of the fall awards season with his sophomore novel, "Cockroach." This book about a lowly outsider looking for meaning in his life was also shortlisted for a Writers' Trust Award and the Governor General's Literary Award.

Boyden, a New Orleans resident, owed his spot on this year's Giller shortlist to "Through Black Spruce," his follow-up to his bestselling first novel, "Three Day Road." Boyden's artfully-crafted story about a weary Cree hunter and the quest for human redemption made "Through Black Spruce" a Giller favourite.

Marina Endicott of Cochrane, Alta., married slapstick humour and tragedy in "Good to a Fault," her Giller-nominated novel about an unfulfilled woman who awakens to life thanks to a serendipitous car accident.

Guelph, Ont. resident Mary Swan scored a finalist's spot with "The Boys in the Trees," a dark, haunting novel inspired by a true story from the 1880s about a Guelph man who kills his family.

Finally, "Barnacle Love," Anthony De Sa's book about a Portuguese fisherman who flees to Canada, landed the first-time author and Toronto high school teacher onto this year's shortlist.

Making the cut

The five finalists were selected by a jury panel comprised of award-winning author and Giller Prize winner Margaret Atwood; Liberal MP, foreign affairs critic and author Bob Rae, and renowned journalist, professor and author Colm Toibin.

The 2008 finalists were chosen from 95 books submitted by 38 publishing houses for consideration.

Past winners of the Giller Prize include Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and the late Mordecai Richler.

In 1994 businessman Jack Rabinovitch founded the Giller Prize in memory of his late wife, Doris Giller. A well-known literary journalist, Giller served as a reporter and editor at three major Canadian newspapers during her career. She died of cancer in 1993.

Created to recognize excellence in Canadian fiction for both long or short stories, the Giller originally endowed $25,000 to prize winners. In 2008 the prize purse was increased to $70,000, awarding $50,000 to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English and $5,000 to each of the four finalists.

To date, the Giller Prize has endowed more than $250,000 to Canadian authors.

More than 2.5 million books nominated for the Giller Prize have been sold during the first 10 years of the award. More than $60-million in book sales have been generated because of the prize.