Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Canada Reads Books Announced

Canada Reads has become a national event in the past couple of years, its books gaining prestige among Canadians similar to that of international award winners. Though the week-long CBC Radio 1 special does not air until March 2, CBC has announced the books and the panel that will defend them to allow listeners to read the books before the contest takes place. The lucky five are:

* TV personality Avi Lewis defending The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.
* Singer Sarah Slean defending Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards.
* Actor Nicholas Campbell defending The Outlander by Gil Adamson.
* TV host Anne-Marie Withenshaw defending The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (La grosse femme d'à côté est enceinte ) by Michel Tremblay, translated by Sheila Fischman.
* Author Jen Sookfong Lee defending Fruit by Brian Francis.

The contest pits each panel member defending his/her choice over the course of the hour with a vote to eliminate one book each program. At the end of the week, one book is left as the book that "all Canadians would enjoy reading."
The contest has become rather impressive in its impact over the last few years. Last year's winner, King Leary by Paul Quarrington, infamously became this blog's first club choice. In 2007, Lullabies for Little Criminals won and has since increased in popularity; well, at our bookstore, anyway. It seems that Canada Reads has gained the power of persuasion over the Canadian people, either introducing new authors to the reading public (Lullabies) or reintroducing staples of Canadian literature to a new audience - for instance, 2003's winner was Next Episode by Hubert Aquin, originally published in 1965.
This year's nominees seem to follow the same trend. Mercy Among the Children won the Giller Prize in 2000, while The Outlander is the debut novel by Adamson. It provides a worthy list of soon-to-be classic Canadian literature. In fact, what about choosing a book from this list as the next book club selection? We can predict the next Canada Reads selection and then judge the panel on its ability to pick the winner.
Read the about this year's books here, or see the complete list of past winners and nominees here.

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