2013 Books and Panelists Announced
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Olympic gold-medal wrestler Carol Huynh (B.C. and Yukon), Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.
Ron MacLean, sportscaster (Prairies & the North), The Age of Hope by David Bergen.
Charlotte Gray, historian and biographer (Ontario), Away by Jane Urquhart.
Actor and filmmaker Jay Baruchel (Quebec), Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan.
Comedian Trent McClellan (Atlantic provinces), February by Lisa Moore.
Q host Jian Ghomeshi will once again host the book debate.
I heard the last 10 minutes of Q today, and judging from their banter, it's going to be a good show this year. I've read February, which was excellent. Away is at the top of Mnt TBR, so I'll read that in December. Not sure if I'll get to the others.
I'm planning on reading Away and February for sure. I've got a hold on The Age of Hope but there are quite a few ahead of me so I don't know if I'll get it in time. I read Two Solitudes ages ago and hardly remember it but I don't think I'll have time to re-read it.
I wasn't looking forward to the theme of turf wars, but I too think the book choices are great. I wonder if Canada reads will ever have any Quebec books in translation- I would love to explore that side of Canadian literature.
A few years ago they had The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay.
edited to add: I see that Nikolski was translated from French (but it doesn't mention the Tremblay book was--I was sure that was written in French, but maybe not?)
(the videos don't seem to match up with the titles, maybe they'll realize and fix it . . . )
(edited to fix touchstone)
One thing that ticked me off in the discussion was that two of the panelists complaining that they just couldn't understand how a mother can abandon her children. I've come across this sentiment with other books before and I don't understand how people don't understand. Anyway, that's just a pet peeve of mine and I still like those panelists (unlike the year Debbie Travis was on and made me really dislike her!).
Okay, so tomorrow is the day Two Solitudes goes. Right?
I'm wondering, too, about the panelists who say they can't understand why a woman would leave her children. I'm wondering if they have ideas so ingrained that they can't read the story -- it's pretty clear in Away why Mary leaves.
Have you noticed how little is said about February? Is this a tactic on the champion's part -- it will just "sneak" to victory?
I do wonder why Ron McLean chose the Age of Hope to defend. While not a bad book, there are many stronger books from the Prairies (perhaps something by W.O. Mitchell? Margaret Laurence? Diane Warren? Marshall McLuhan?) I still don't have a clear idea why Age of Hope resonated with him.
I slogged through Two Solitudes and felt like I was in high school again. Perhaps it is because I live on the West Coast and we just do not have the same history and culture.
Indian Horse was my favorite, powerful and timely, and I am sad to see it go. February was amazing, though, and would be a deserving winner.
He didn't. In November, CBC Canada Reads took nominations at their website and then set up polls for people to vote for the books. The Age of Hope was the book that people voted on for the Prairies & North. None of the panelists picked their book. Although I didn't participate, I could have and I did follow it.
That said, I don't know how many times Giann Gomeshi has referred to the pseudo-celeb picking "their" book. Every time I say "huh?!"
I missed last year, but I heard about that. Yikes--it must have set a tone! I don't follow it very often but this year it worked with my schedule. I agree about the panelists--at least no one is annoying me!
As for Two Solitudes, it's been on my wish list for years, but I've now pushed it farther down. As the February-guy said, Two Solitudes seemed like required reading, and even the guy who defended it described reading it as "a civic duty." Also, Charlotte Grey said it had no characters, and just symbols and types. Pffft. No thanks. Two Solitudes is on every list of "important Canadian books," so it didn't get knocked off the canon here. It will continue to hold its important spot in CanLit. And when I'm old and have read everything else, I will read it too.
I still think the panel was good, but some of their comments today frustrated me. Ron McLean commented that he didn't like Helen from February because she wasn't a perfect character. Hello! Since when do characters need to be perfect? And then Carol Huynh--who I really like--said that she didn't connect with Helen because she didn't go after her goals. Hello! Miss the point of the book much? I guess when you're an Olympic gold medal winner it's hard to understand people who get stuck. Carol was also one of the panellists who couldn't relate to the main character of Away. Is she missing the point of reading books? New worlds, different ways of thinking? Really, I do like her, but some of her comments were . . . less than erudite.
But then again, I guess if we're picking books that all of Canada should read, her opinion is as valuable as anyone's. Even if it's kinda silly.
Anyway, I will find myself copies of Indian Horse (and be frustrated that it isn't about lacrosse, as McLean suggested), and the the Age of Hope, which I think sounds really interesting. And maybe even Two Solitudes, which I'll squirrel away for the future.
Two Solitudes is good enough that it shouldn't be put off indefinitely. I finished it after the debates were over and realized that no one on the panel mentioned that although it was written about the French and English in Quebec, it applies equally to all society who want fairness and justice despite the reality that justice is easier to obtain for those who have money, and that religion often appeals to the poorest and least educated in our society, especially when it's leaders are the better educated and wield influence. This was easy to recognize in Quebec because it was the English with the most money and prestige and it could be explained as a French/English divide, but I think the book has a more universal message than just that. Don't put off reading it till you have nothing else left to read - it does have an important message but I agree that the book is a bit long!
That comment McLean made about lacrosse and Indian Horse was silly. Hockey is Saul's portal to the white world. The white priest at the residential school introduces him to the sport and later, playing against and for white teams highlights all sorts of prejudices. Those are the meaty points of the book. Lacrosse just wouldn't provide the same opportunities both from a literary viewpoint and from a real life one. Also, hockey makes a great read accessible to more readers.