As I type, the Canada Reads 2013 contenders have been chosen, along with the panelists, and they’re all on stage at CBC, talking about the books and introducing themselves. I was invited, along with several of you, I’m sure, to attend this fun event, but as I’m not close, I couldn’t go.
So here is what we have to look forward to this coming spring! (From CBC’s Canada Reads site):
British Columbia and Yukon:
Carol Huynh defends Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Carol Huynh is one of Canada’s best wrestlers, with 11 Canadian championships, four world titles and two Olympic medals under her belt.
Indian Horse deals with Saul Indian Horse, an alcoholic Ojibway man who finds himself reflecting on his past when he becomes a reluctant resident of an alcohol treatment centre.
Richard Wagamese is one of Canada’s foremost Native authors and storytellers with six novels, a book of poetry and five non-fiction titles to his name.
Prairies and North:
Ron MacLean defends The Age of Hope by David Bergen
Ron MacLean is one of the most recognizable and beloved broadcasters in the country, having hosted CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada for 25 years.
In The Age of Hope, Hope Koop struggles with her safe, steady and predictable life as a wife and mother of four living in small-town Manitoba.
David Bergen is the author of seven novels, including The Time in Between, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2005.
Charlotte Gray defends Away by Jane Urquhart
Charlotte Gray is one of Canada’s best-known biographers and historians and has written eight critically acclaimed books of literary non-fiction.
Away is an epic family saga spread across multiple decades and countries, detailing the history of an Irish family in Canada.
Jane Urquhart is a bestselling novelist, well known for her evocative blending of history with the present day.
Jay Baruchel defends Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
Jay Baruchel is an actor, writer and producer known for his work in films like Knocked Up, Million Dollar Baby and Goon.
First published in 1945, Two Solitudes instantly became a symbol for one of Canada’s most challenging dichotomies: the divide between French and English.
Hugh MacLennan was the first major English-speaking Canadian writer to attempt to portray the country’s national character in fiction.
Trent McClellan defends February by Lisa Moore
Trent McClellan is a regular on the comedy festival and club circuit, as well as on Sirius, XM Satellite and CBC Radio and Television, CTV and the Comedy Network.
February is about a subject that touched the life of anyone living in Newfoundland in the 1980s: the tragic sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig on Valentine’s Day in 1982, with the loss of all 84 aboard.
Lisa Moore is the bestselling author of two award-winning novels and two collections of short stories.
My two cents: not a single one of the books I would have preferred to have seen for each region was chosen. But that’s not to say I have no hope for next year’s contest! I think the choices are good books, and the mix of them, as well as the mix of panelists and their pairings, promises a stimulating debate. Ron MacLean is a perfect panelist, in my opinion, after seeing him present Lynn Cody’s The Antagonist at the Gillers last year. The man reads, is passionate, and knows how to sell a book! The other pairings are intriguing, too. I’m very glad to see some young Canadians on the panel, and it will be interesting to see how funny man Trent McClellan handles Lisa Moore’s unfunny but beautiful February. I’m also interested in seeing how Jay Baruchel, an actor I’ve enjoyed, deals with Hugh MacLennan’s 1945 classic, Two Solitudes.
I’m excited about all of this, you guys. I’m genuinely looking forward to this. I have to say right now I’m impartial: they’re all good books, and I don’t favour one over the other. Rather, fingers crossed that the debate is not just entertaining but also, and mainly, satisfying!