The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Friday, February 27, 2009

This Canadian Reads

By Andrew Tibbetts

For the first time I’m making my way through all the novels in preparation for CBC’s 2009 version of “Canada Reads”. I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I’m sure glad I started. So far, I’m enjoying the books immensely. I started with “Fruit” by Brian Francis, mostly because I’m a fruit by Mr. and Mrs. Tibbetts. I do like queer lit. The book’s funny and lively and I whipped through it in a couple of days. It reminded me of the fun young adult novels I read when I was a kid—that’s a compliment. But at the same time, I imagined it wouldn’t ‘win’ because lightness and whimsy and comedy and ‘accessible’ usually don’t score big in Canadian Culture.

Next up, I read “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill. This was just as entertaining a read but had some serious meat to it by way of throwing light on some dark corners of Canadian and world history. It’s the first person narration of a former slave recounting her experiences from her richly detailed childhood in Africa, through her abduction, her life in slavery, her escape as a young adult, her movement with British loyalists to Nova Scotia, her emigration to the Sierra Leone project and her eventual old age in England working with the abolitionists to end the slave trade. The character is lively and completely convincing. I was sad to put the book down, I felt like I was leaving a good friend.

There was no way the next one could top that, but I’m half way through Gil Adamson’s “The Outlander” (luscious prose to tell a riotous adventure yarn! It’s a gorgeous book.) and I’m just thrilled with the quality and variety of Canadian novelizing! This one’s a winner too.

All these books are assured creations. It’s ridiculous and impossible to compare them and I’m glad I’m not on the panel. Although, I can’t wait to hear the debates! I hope I make it through the others in time. I’ve got a week. David Adams Richards and Michel Tremblay are both writers I’m familiar with (unlike these first three) and I enjoy their work—so this is going to be some event! The debates begin March 2 and last the week.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Wow, it starts tomorrow! I haven't read a single one of these, and I admire you were taking them on. I met Mary Novik at Hannah Holborn's reading on Thursday and she said a friend of hers was defending "Fruit." Another friend said she was moved by "The Book of Negroes." "The Outlander" has a fascinating premise. I may start with that one.

Mon Mar 02, 12:27:00 am GMT-5  

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