Maritime Canada Author Events


Scrolling through Facebook this morning, I came across a notice from my favourite author, Diana Gabaldon. She’s coming to the Atlantic Provinces IN A FEW DAYS!! I didn’t know this and I’m gutted because she’s going to be speaking and signing in Halifax on Wednesday and it’s already sold out. Crap.

Anyway. For fans of hers and for fans of Canadian authors in general, this weekend, April 29-30, she will be at The Frye Festival in Moncton, New Brunswick.  From their website “The Frye Festival is Canada’s only bilingual international literary festival and the largest literary event in Atlantic Canada. The Frye Festival offers the best of local, Canadian and international authors, including children’s authors, graphic novelists, storytellers, poets, playwrights, spoken-word artists and more.”

I wish I had known about this before now. I likely would have made plans to go and see Ms. Gabaldon and I know I would have enjoyed the opportunity to find some great Canadian authors and books. This festival has been going all week and has featured a few other authors that I know of and have read, Wayne Grady, Zoe Whittall, Ami McKay and Madeleine Thien. I must make a note somewhere to remind myself to check out this festival and the authors that will be attending next year. I have a friend in Moncton where I can stay. Not sure if my husband would be interested but he’d go anyway, if I wanted to.

Ms. Gabaldon is appearing on Sunday, April 30 at the Delta Beauséjour at 1 p.m. Details here on ticket prices and how to get them.  She will also be at the grand opening, the Soirée Frye, with three other authors, including Madeleine Thien (Do Not Say We Have Nothing, excellent book btw).  Saturday afternoon, she’s lecturing at a conference about Imagination and the Writing Life but that is already sold out.

Then she’s in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island on Monday, May 1 doing a reading, Q&A and signing for Reading Town  in conjunction with the National Reading Campaign, at the Delta Prince Edward hotel at 7:30. Tickets are $15 plus tax and available at Bookmarks. I don’t know the status of sell out, you can contact: 902-566-4888 or e-mail at charlottetown@bookmarkreads.ca

Her last stop is in Halifax at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Wednesday, May 3 but as I mentioned, that event seems to be sold out according to the ticket purchase site.  You could contact the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office at (902) 494-3820   or 1-800-874-1669 in case of returns or last minute tickets that weren’t picked up perhaps.

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Canada Reads 2017 Notes on the finale


Today was the showdown between Company Town and Fifteen Dogs (linked to my reviews) to see which book would be the winner of Canada Reads 2017. Which book is the one all Canadians need to read right now?

So, on to today’s debates, trundling down the final stretch.

The three eliminees spoke about their books one last time.

Chantal felt she failed at her job to convince that it was the book that everyone needs to read. There are so many serious social issues rearing their heads and people need to have the patience to read about them. Jody explained that Nostalgia will help you make the choice on who you are and where you’re heading. It might be set in the future but it also reflects on where our society may go. Candy said her book was about family, women’s connections, and the effects of colonization today. There are a lot of different perspectives from several generations telling the story.

The two finalists are introduced and we are ready for the first debate with a 60 second defense. Humble reminds us that we are a diverse country, “we don’t tolerate our differences, we celebrate them.” The book allows us to forgive ourselves for these struggles. Measha read a statement by Tamara Taylor who was originally meant to defend Company Town. Measha had replaced her a few weeks ago. Tamara talkd about how effective stories educate and entertain. This book touches on old themes but in a sharp, new way.

How does Fifteen Dogs project the voices of the voiceless, something Humble stated yesterday? There was a discussion about so many different characters in the dogs, with many different dynamic relationships. There are a lot of negative emotions that we have to deal with and by facing them, we can also forgive ourselves. Chantal is impressed with what he just said and talked about the idea of forgiveness.

How does Company Town educate and entertain? Measha thinks science fiction can get a discussion going for people of all ages to talk about various issues. It’s a cautionary tale that actually relates to climate change with regards to the oil bubble. Jody thinks scifi makes you think “bigger”. New technologies today have been developed from older scifi and lend themseleves to what’s possible in the future. Issues in CT currently exist in their infancy and this is where it could end up, a speculative future vs. projected future based on the truth of now for things such as climate change.

We heard a quick audio on past winning panelists and what they think the secret to winning is. Words such as luck, preparation, relate your own experience, psychology, mind games, the need to understand the otheres’ motivations.

In the next round, everyone was asked which of the two books was the best written. (and I’m paraphrasing the speakers here)

Candy, with biases, likes both but leans to Fifteen Dogs but only just, because she’s not a science fiction fan and is a dog person though did admit to liking the story of CT better which she thought had gorgeous and sometimes unexpected prose. Chantal allowed it was difficult to answer. CT is entertaining and vividly written, where FD is quite fluid and flowing. Jodi was asked what is more important, good writing or a good plot. He thinks if it’s not well written, it’s hard to get into the plot (I agree…DaVinci code, anyone?), sort of like video with bad sound. For Measha, the plot hangs on good writing and it helps the plot advance with a good turn of phrase. She loves the precision of the succinct language to get to the point. For the book with the most satisfying ending, Chantal liked CT for the heat at the end. Candy was let down by the endings of both final books.

Regarding the theme of the one book that canada needs now, the two finalists had to convince the three free agents that what matters to them is found in their book.
Humble spoke about trauma and healing, human nature and emotions, mentioning how the dogs were brand new to intelligence and found it traumatic and intense. Measha sparked a discussion on mysogeny in FD, thinking that the one female character wasn’t enough. With CT, Hwa, a strong female, is central to lives of the men in her life. The discussiong surrounding mysogeny threatened to become controversial with a question about reverse racism. Ali jumped on that and deftly moved the discussion onward to environmental concerns. Chantal happy to hear they did consider envionment effects in the books. The conflict in CT with Hwa getting new body to survive was touched on as was the pack leader dog Atticus’ wish to start over and make changes. There was also talk about the past and the future influencing each other.

There were some audio messages from the authors, Madeline Ashby and Andre Alexis, thanking their defenders.

Ali then charged the two finalists to say something nice about the other book. Humble liked the setting of Company Town and admired the use of current patterns to create the future. Measha thought Fifteen Dogs made her feel more human, bringing up ideas she hadn’t thought about ie. poetry, love and even the violence. It was a perfect image of humanity in general.

They each had a few last words to say before it came down to the final vote. In the end, Company Town had four votes against, with Fifteen Dogs only the one from Measha as you would expect.

Fifteen Dogs wears the crown.

No real surprise, I have to say. I  could see it coming all week. Well done to Humble the Poet for his fantastic defense.

It’s been interesting watching the debates all week. Last year was the first year I paid any attention to Canada Reads and had not read any of the books. This year, I’ve read all but one. It’s a lot better when you have, because you know what the panelists are referring to and you can become much more engaged with the debates. There seemed to be a bit of difficulty trying to differentiate between the issues that the books presented and trying to show *how* each book presented the issues and why each book was the best one to do that. Voting was often a matter of strategy rather than how the panelist actually felt but that’s part of being competitive, I think. If you know that The Break is the strongest book, you aren’t going to want to see it up against the book you’re trying to defend because you want your book to win.

The panelists were all very different personalities that often clashed. Humble the Poet seemed to be the Voice of Reason, always dignified, kind, calm, yet always stood his ground. Candy Palmater seemed to want to keep everyone on a politically correct path when it came to issues she personally promotes (Indigenous people, feminism). Jody Mitic seemed a little out of his element but also really believed in what he was defending. Measha Brueggergosman was well prepared and entertaining, she was down to earth and even tempered and passionate. (I should have realized she was a Maritimer!! She was born and raised in New Brunswick.)  Chantal Kreviazuk seemed overly defensive at times but she was also under a lot of personal stress, having a child ill in the hospital and it shows her integrity in an admirable light that she participated remotely rather than back out of her commitment at the last minute. Nobody would have blamed her if she did. The host, Ali Hassan, did a fantastic job herding the cats and dogs and keeping order when things got heated.

I will definitely look forward to this every year and try to read as many of the books as I think I will enjoy. I’ve also read Quantum Nights by Robert J. Sawyer which was on the long list and there are a few more from the long list I would like to read as well.

You can find more information about Canada Reads on the CBC website, where they also have lists of past short lists and winners. No matter what your interests are, you will find some good recommendations there.

Canada Reads 2017 Notes on Day 3

The Canada Reads competition for the second day is finished and another book has been voted out. Today’s competition is down to three books. The final two will end the contest tomorrow.

Just to remind you, the program is hosted by comedian Ali Hassan and the panelists are Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Jody Mitic, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Measha Brueggergosman.

We’re down to three books, Company Town, Fifteen Dogs and The Right to be Cold. Candy Palmater and Jody Mitic are free agents for the voting process.

After a summary of Day 2’s events, We again saw the book trailers for the three remaining books. Each panelist talked about how good they felt their chances were and why. They tried to resist throwing some extra defense into their answers and not completely succeeding!

The first debate is to settle a question. Each person is asked to say why they voted against the book they did in Day 2 and must attempt to change the minds of the other panelists to agree with them. Humble voted against Company Town,

It was an interesting way to debate. Humble tried to gauge the mood of the room and he was looking for a book that had readability and entertainment factor vs substance and felt like The Right to be Cold had the substance but Company Town, which he voted against, had the entertainment, the “whodunnit” but there wasn’t enough substance. He likened it to enough pill vs enough applesauce which was clever, wasn’t it? Measha then defended her book and tried to change his mind, citing the entire society that was created by the author. She tried to show that Company Town does have substance. It might be likened to a soap opera, Young and the Restless but that show has been around a very long time.

Jody voted against Fifteen Dogs yesterday because he knew it was a strong book, and wanted to get rid of the competition! Strategy, it is. It’s difficult to change someone’s mind on that score but Humble reiterated how much he enjoyed his book and predicts it will be a classic.

Measha voted against The Right to be Cold and thought it wasn’t as entertaining or engaging even though it’s also essential and inspiring. Chantal tried to remind everyone that the theme is what book is essential to Canadians and that’s the same word Measha used. She said everything in the book was true and relevant.

The next piece was a brief audio clip from Sheila Watt-Clouthier who wrote The Right to be Cold. The question raised was whether it’s more important for a story to challenge the reader’s world view or reflect it. Candy thinks there’s room for both and it depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the book. Chantal believes you should do both and cited some spiritual examples from the book. Jody commented that it’s easy to read something you agree with so challenge is a good thing sometimes.

The next clip was from Andre Alexis regarding Fifteen Dogs and how the human world is far more violent than Fifteen Dogs is. The question to the panel, violence can tell a story but can it go too far?  Measha finds violence uncomfortable but it can be used in the right context to make you connect to the characters and make you care, as in Company Town. Humble wonders why we are bothered by violence when it seems that the safer our environment, the more we seem to be sensitive to it. Measha weighed in that the violence in FD is about maintaining control whereas in CT it’s a reaction.

Madeliene Ashby spoke about her characters and the point was identity, can a story include you in an experience you are excluded from in your own life. Jody says it depends on your attitude going into the book. He spoke about The Break as being not within his own experience. Chantal tried to relate the violence to the way of the Inuit life being chipped away. Measha added that the main character in CT suffers isolation from abuse and a lot of people can relate to that, and people are disconnected due to technology and that’s becoming more true, too. She says the world might be made up but the characters are still just like everyone else.

Round three brings in comments from social media. Company Town got a comment that it was inclusive but the characters didn’t feel three dimensional. Measha points out that the main characters may seem distant because that’s how the main character, Hwa, sees them or deals with them.

Fifteen Dogs got a remark that the tweeter was upset that the humans in the book were all very horrible. Humble begs to differ. Jody reminded us that the main dog who was the pack leader seemed to be changing later on in his life in spite of the violence.

The Right to be Cold came in for criticism as a hard read with too much information. Chantal was affronted and couldn’t understand how that would work because the book has so much variety of story and science and statistics. I don’t think she got that was exactly why people might be put off. Jody mentioned  all the science and not enough about the author but Chantal really got defensive at that remark.

Ali had to cut off the debate because…

Now we vote:
It looks like they’re having a tough time as they all put their strategies into play.

The votes go to:
The Right to be Cold
Company Town
The Right to be Cold
Company Town
and again a tie breaker with Jody having to do the honours and he went with…
The Right to be Cold

Ok, did you see that coming?

Today, the finale. Fifteen Dogs vs Company Town

Which of the two books will be the victor? Guesses? I’m going with Fifteen Dogs even though I preferred Company Town because I think the awards it has got will be of some influence and I think Humble the Poet has been very convincing and has stayed calm, dignified and well prepared.

I found myself drawn to Jody who talked briefly about his grievous injury as a soldier when he lost his feet to a land mind. Would he change himself as characters in Nostalgia did? He didn’t say yes or no but allowed that he wouldn’t be where he is today, on television, with children etc. because it changed him and he had to remake his life.

Links to the ways to watch or listen to today’s debates online. 

 

Canada Reads 2017 Notes on Day 2

The Canada Reads competition for the second day is finished and another book has been voted out. Today’s competition is down to three books. The final two will end the contest tomorrow.

Just to remind you, the program is hosted by comedian Ali Hassan and the panelists are Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Jody Mitic, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Measha Brueggergosman.

Ali summarized Day 1 and then gave Candy a chance to talk about the book for the last time. She’s now a free agent in the debate.

We hear from each author talk about their books briefly and then the panelists are asked about their respective books, what makes it a great book?

Jodi/Nostalgia
He notes that the author started to write it before the onset of modern social media but shows how the world could evolve with the involvment of social media.

Chantal/Right to be Cold
She reckons her book is relatable to all ages, it’s autobiographical, and it’s a call to action in the midst of environmental controls and it gives hope to the future generations.

Humble/Fifteen Dogs
Humble pointed out that all of the CR books deal with issues and the root of every issue is us, and this book helps us “understand the world outside of us and the world inside of us” and by understanding and connecting both, we can understand why we are where we are now with various issues.

Measha/Company Town
Measha believes that Company Town “subverts the traditional dialogue surrounding literature to include the younger audience” Female voice in scifi. It focuses on science and technology in conjunction with a corporate involvement. There’s a diverse and multi-generational cast to match a diverse culture.

There was a lot of really great debate today, I thought. The tone was less aggressive though sometimes one or another panelist took things personally. There was a point made that it isn’t the issues that should be debated, it’s the way the books convey the issues and that’s exactly the way it should be but sometimes, it felt like the issues themselves got in the way. I noticed that Candy always seems to get a word or more in to direct or try to direct the conversation to her own issues, wanting to educate people she says, but this really isn’t the forum for that.

Now we get down to the initial debates with the question, which is,what the most inclusive book? (they can’t talk about their own book)

The Right to be Cold came into a lot of discussion here as being very inclusive since it affects absolutely everyone on the planet. It’s a marker and a call to action even though the text could be intense at times. Measha found that the autobiographical parts of the book were more accessible to her which then brings the book’s message to the forefront. I liked Humble’s description that diversity is often though of as superficial, what things look like or appear to be when he thinks it’s also about life choices and the diversity of thought. He liked Company Town’s diversity of characters, their various economic means, and the life choices of those characters.

The next question is Which book helps Canadians learn from the past?

While you might think Nostalgia would come in for a lot of debate here, it only did minimally. Fifteen Dogs started to come up more now and Measha thought a combination of Fifteen Dogs and Nostalgia would be the perfect book. Okay then. There were still lots of kudos for The Right to be Cold because our actions in the past certainly caused climate change and it will affect the future and the book is about more than just the issue, it’s about how the issue is affecting the way of life of the peoples in the North. Fifteen Dogs is mentioned as a mirror to human consciousness.

Humble was the one that made the remark about which book is the best conveyor of the issue, not about the actual issues themselves. Very true. Because he feels a good book should be accessible to readers of all levels, he believes his book, Fifteen Dogs, does that. Human experience explains why we have climate change, why there is economic differences, why our Indigenous people are struggling.

Chantal didn’t think that Fifteen Dogs isn’t as accessible to all, calling it too mature for younger people due to the language used. Humble replied that he chose the book to represent because it represents him, not as a male, or a minority but how he feels inside, how he can struggle with his own regrets, choices and decisions. Everyone has inner conflicts and thoughts and that makes Fifteen Dogs accessible. Very good rebuttal, I thought.

Ali introduced audio from people in the panelists’ families and supporters to give them encouragement.

The next point for debate was the question about which book is the *least* effective at letting us know ourselves. I didn’t think there was any definitive argument. There was a lot of discussion about the human condition and again, consciousness and Fifteen Dogs again was the focus of much of this part of the debate. Jodi didn’t think that the dogs showed much evolution with the onset of the human reasoning they were given though Humble pointed out that he went to a deeper level of connecting to the characters. Candy found the two futuristic novels more difficult to relate to though it was coloured by a negative encounter with one of the authors. She and Chantal both felt Company Town’s ending let them down.

 

It’s time to vote.

Company Town
The Right to be Cold
Nostagia
There’s one vote left….will it be a four way tie? Yes, yes it will. The last vote is against Fifteen Dogs.

Candy, as the only independent, gets the deciding vote and she voted for Nostalgia to be eliminated.

Jodi was cool with that. you win some you lose some. All the books are great and he’s been excited to meet all the contestants and participate.

I do think that there wasn’t a lot of defense to day for Nostalgia, Jodi wasn’t as passionate in his chances and Nostalgia didn’t come in for a lot of the discussion. I think Fifteen Dogs probably dominated most of the debates today with The Right To Be Cold coming in a close second, though it started off dominating the debates.

Three books left. The competition is really heating up, now! I’m still backing Company Town but I think Fifteen Dogs and The Right to be Cold are very strong, probably stronger than the one I prefer. Humble the Poet is really impressing me with his arguments and his dignified demeanor and Measha is also very engaging. Chantal is passionate but unfortunately it seems more difficult to include her in the conversation due to her being at a remote location. I hope that doesn’t hurt her book’s chances in the long run.

Links to the ways to watch or listen to today’s debates online. 

Canada Reads 2017 Notes on Day 1

“It’s the Battle of the Books. Let the games begin!”

The Canada Reads competition for the first day is finished and one book has been voted out.

The host is comedian Ali Hassan. Just to remind you, the panelists are Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Jody Mitic, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Measha Brueggergosman.

To start with, each panelist is introduced and each of them exchanged a bit of small talk with the host, introducing their respective books. Candy Palmater mentioned recently deceased Canadian writer, Richard Wagamese. One defender, Chantal Kreviazuk, was not in the studio due to a family emergency, she was connected remotely from Los Angeles so we could see her but she couldn’t actually see her co-defendants.

The trailers for each book were shown and each defendant has 30 seconds to put forth their initial defence. That first impression could make a big difference. The next move is for each competitor then to discuss why each of the others’ books are not the right one to win the competition with some rebuttal by the defenders.

Notes on the initial book debates:

Nostalgia:
Jody says The past always affects your future and you can’t run from your past.
Candy didn’t like the idea of older man/younger augmented woman (but it turns out that female character was not augmented) and she couldn’t relate to it. She didn’t feel the book conveyed the urgency of the one book Canadians need to read *right now*. Humble says fiction is lies that tell the truth and he could see how Nostalgia could connect with people but again, the urgency didn’t strike him. Measha connected with the resourcefulness of some of the characters.

The Right to be Cold:
Chantal says civilization is at a critical moment and the book tells us how to fix the problems of climate control.
Jody thought the climate issue was far too broad and there was too much in the book that did not relate to climate change. Chantal believes that people are connected to everything around them and they won’t need Jody in the fight because he doesn’t buy into that fight and the two of them got into a sniping session that Ali kept trying to divert.  Humble thought the book encompassed more than climate change and wasn’t specific enough to be the champion of the issue. Candy jumped in defending Jody and Ali again redirected the discussion to the next book.

Fifteen Dogs:
Humble believes it raises issues that happen because of the human condition and we need to understand the human conditions before we can address the issues. Fifteen Dogs does this.
Measha is not a dog person but “liked the exercise of exploring the human consciousness”. Chantal is a dog lover and applauds the awards this book has already won but isn’t sure understanding the human condition from this book necessarily was conveyed. Jody thought the book didn’t make clear how much or how little the dogs are evolving and thought the characters were a bit inconsistent for him. Humble agreed and took it a step further as representative of how much humanity isn’t evolving. Candy pointed out that all the dogs were male and therefore the book, for her, was about men’s consciousness, not people in general though it was thought that her opinion was ironic considering The Break is from the women’s point of view.

Company Town:
Measha says: The bitter medicine we need in order to heal, and it’s about  justice being served.
Candy liked the book but still didn’t connect with any urgency as applies to the theme. She doubted that a woman character necessarily needs to have male traits to be portrayed as “Strong”. Measha pointed out that the book protagonist Hwa’s biggest strength is her intuition and we need to be authentic to survive. Jody did connect to Hwa as a great character but didn’t think the story, as good as it was, was one Canada needs right now. Chantal stood behind the heroine but found the book ‘chaotic’ in part and the lead character a bit cliche. Measha defended her book as cinematic, and a surreality with the futuristic world and society built completely.

The Break:
This country is in need of healing. Candy asks Can this book heal a nation?
Measha pointed out that this book excludes men from the “nation”, the ones that are in the book are not redeemable and that it could encourage a “combative atmosphere between men and women.” Jody agreed. Candy wants people to feel that the book is about the experiences of the particular women in the book and their experience with the men in their community and that many Native women she has spoken with intimately knows these characters. It’s the number one selling book and it’s number one for a reason.

Each person then gave another quick defense/plea before the first vote. Which book gets dropped today? Candy commented that she voted for a different book than she thought she would as a result of the initial debates which she thought was exciting.

There wasn’t an unanimous or heavily leaning vote but there was a two way tie. The Break and The Right to be Cold got two votes each, with Company Town being the odd vote out. Chantal was selected to break the tie because she voted for Company Town, the non-tied book. But the thing is, the book she’s defending is The Right to be Cold, one of the tie voted books. Of course she’s going to vote off the other book and not her own. It’s a no brainer and she allowed that she did feel bad because she really liked The Break. These are the rules for breaking a tie, the non tied book defender is the tie breaker but in this case, the rules failed, I think. It didn’t seem fair to The Break, it didn’t have any fighting chance at all.  I’d have suggested one of the panelists whose book didn’t get a vote. It made me sad because it was my favourite book. I guess I’ll be rooting for Company Town next.

The reaction on Social Media:
There was a lot of shock at the book voted out. Some were saying that they were disappointed that the focus of the debate for The Break seemed to be man vs woman and others thought the indigenous experience isn’t relatable to non-indigenous people and it ends up being another example of the whole issue portrayed in The Break in the first place. Mind you, I agree with one tweet that pointed out Fifteen Dogs is male-centric but then the debate didn’t seem to really expand on that point aside from the initial suggestion. Other comments made accusations of agendas being pushed too aggressively. Tempers get heated and emotions run high sometimes.

We’ll see if things cool down or change direction today.

Links to the ways to watch or listen to  today’s debates online. 

Canada Reads 2017 Starts Today

Canada Reads 2017 Defenders

Let the competition begin!

Canada Reads 2017 starts today, in a few short hours (11:00 a.m. Eastern, that means 12:00 p.m. Atlantic Canada, 12:30 in Newfoundland, 8:00 a.m. on the West coast. Check your local listings for other areas), and I’m excited about it.

You can watch it live online at the CBC Books site though I think the CBC site for streaming may possibly be country specific, meaning if you are not watching from Canada, you may not be able to watch the video on CBC’s site. They will also be streaming on YouTube and on their Facebook page. (see next paragraph for links) If you can’t watch the video, you should be able to listen to it via podcast. Here’s a link to CBC radio podcasts and one to iTunes.

To Watch: The links for today’s episode are here. The links will change each day and soon after the live episode, the video will be available for replay. CBC will also air it on television at 4 p.m. local time (in most of the various time zones across Canada, adding a half hour for Newfoundland 4:30 p.m.)

I may not get a chance to listen live during my lunch hour but I have the dvr set to record so I can watch when I get home later, just in case. I plan to blog notes on the daily competitions and post them the next morning.

The opening day doesn’t waffle around though there are initial introductions to the defenders, books and the competition. The defenders are always chosen with the idea that they should have very different voices from different aspects of society. They may be from the various arts, sports, political realms. They might be a journalist, a musician, an athlete, an actor. They need to be able to love the book they’ve chosen from a short list assigned to each of them and they need to read all the books chosen so that they can defend one and argue for others once theirs is voted out of the contest. They will be articulate and passionate.

This year’s defenders are:
Chantal Kreviazuk, singer/songwriter, defending The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Humble The Poet, rapper/spoken word artist, defending Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Measha Brueggergosman, opera singer, defending Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Candy Palmater, comedian/lawyer/broadcaster, defending The Break by Katherena Vermette
Jody Mitic, Armed Forces veteran, defending Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji

You can read more about them here. I’ve read all of the books (reviews linked in the above list) except The Right to be Cold and of the ones I’ve read, my favourite is The Break, with Company Town probably second favourite. It will be very interesting to hear the debates since the books are all so different. There are short trailers for each book here. 

Off to the races!

Canada Reads 2017 books and defenders

CBC yesterday morning released the announcement about the five books selected for Canada Reads 2017 and the people that will be defending each book.

The books and defenders are:

Nostalgia – M. G. Vassanji defended by Armed Forces veteran Jody Mitic
Company Town – Madeleine Ashby defended by actor Tamara Taylor
The Break – Katherena Vermette defended by comedienne Candy Palmater
The Right to be Cold – Sheila Watt-Cloutier defended by singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk
Fifteen Dogs – Andrei Alexis defended by poet/rapper (“spoken word artist”) Kanwer Singh aka Humble the Poet

Tamara Taylor, Jody Mitic, Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Chantal Kreviazuk, Canada Reads defenders and their books

Tamara Taylor, Jody Mitic, Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Chantal Kreviazuk, Canada Reads defenders and their books (photo from CBC)

I confess the only one of the defenders I’ve heard of is Candy Palmater but have no real knowledge of her work. It’s quite a wide range of people so the debates should have some interesting perspectives. The theme is the book that Canada needs Right Now.  It doesn’t seem to be the obvious theme linking the books though the non-fiction book does talk about the effect of climate change on the Northern communities and that’s happening Right Now, for sure. But then, the idea of the debate is to prove that each book embodies the theme. You can watch a 12 minute video recording of the defenders who were on the CBC radio version of Q  for a little taste of what you might expect. I’m not sure if that’s available outside of Canada, however.

I’m looking forward to the competition. I’ve bought two of the books last week and both of them made the short list (Nostalgia, The Break) so that’s good. Not sure if I’ll read all of the short list but I did have Company Town on my list of books I’d like to read. Fifteen Dogs has been out a couple of years and won the Giller prize in 2015. It didn’t appeal to me then and it still doesn’t but it would be a quirky little book just the same. The Right to be Cold is non fiction, where the others are fiction, and most of the other fiction books have aspects of science fiction and fantasy to them aside from The Break which is different.

If you live in the Toronto area or want to go and attend the debates, tickets are available here. They will be live streaming the event on CBCBooks.ca and broadcasting it on CBC television and radio as well. I seem to recall last year it was during the daytime so if I can’t watch it, I might be able to listen live to the radio broadcast at work or at least watch it on the reruns each evening. The dates for the competition are March 27 – 30.