Wab Kinew stated it best when he said that the two main issues facing Canada are reconciliation and the oil sands, and I wholeheartedly agree. Wab Kinew did say most things best in this competition. Though Samantha Bee said things pretty darn well herself. So, it’s no big surprise for me that The Orenda won this year’s Canada Reads with the theme of “the book that will change Canada.” From a story perspective, while I haven’t read The Orenda yet, I know Boyden’s work and the writing is always excellent. I’m absolutely sure this book deserved to win.
A lot of people seem to have been upset that Annabel was taken out of the running, but I was okay with it given the theme of the competition. It was a funny thing to listen to this morning as I was pretty hard on Rawi Hage in a previous post about his occasional rudeness about doing the publicity parts of his job as an author, and then he goes and sends bagels to everyone on the panel. But, I started championing Cockroach, though I don’t think I’ll ever read it (too dark for me), because I had a really large reaction when panelists like Lewis said that the extremity of isolation expressed as the immigrant experience in Canada in this book were not realistic. Being a first generation Canadian, I got to see my parents’ experience as well as that of their immigrant friends, and I can tell you it was a youth spent watching immigrants come full of hope to this country and then fall through the cracks of the Canadian system. The isolation for some was unbearable, and so the idea that are educated people out there who would think “Oh, that can’t be in Canada, our immigrant experience could never be that bad,” just set my blood boiling a bit. The fact that Cockroach brought to light the isolation of both the mentally ill and the immigrant in this country, and the state of mind of immigrants coming in from war-torn nations, and that Samantha Bee did such an excellent job of expressing herself about these issues, made me quite happy that this book made it to the final 2.
But all the issues brought up in the year’s Canada Reads were good ones. If you’re interested in more, the Literary Press Group has given some lovely ideas with their Canada Reads Indie suggestions.
What about you? Were you happy with the way this competition went?