Thursday, November 29, 2012

Canada Reads 2013: The Turf Wars

We finally have the names of the panelists and their chosen books:

Olympic gold-medal wrestler Carol Huynh (B.C. and Yukon), Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese.

Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys. With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man.

Ron MacLean, sportscaster (Prairies & the North), The Age of Hope by David Bergen.

Born in 1930 in a small town outside Winnipeg, beautiful Hope Koop appears destined to have a conventional life. Church, marriage to a steady young man, children-her fortunes are already laid out for her, as are the shiny modern appliances in her new home. All she has to do is stay with Roy, who loves her. But as the decades unfold, what seems to be a safe, predictable existence overwhelms Hope. Where-among the demands of her children, the expectations of her husband and the challenges of her best friend, Emily, who has just read The Feminine Mystique-is there room for her? And just who is she anyway? A wife, a mother, a woman whose life is somehow unrealized? This beautifully crafted and perceptive work of fiction spans some fifty years of Hope Koop's life in the second half of the 20th century, from traditionalism to feminism and beyond. David Bergen has created an indelible portrait of a seemingly ordinary woman who struggles to accept herself as she is, and in so doing becomes unique.

Charlotte Gray, historian and biographer (Ontario), Away by Jane Urquhart.

A stunning, evocative novel set in Ireland and Canada, Away traces a family’s complex and layered past. The narrative unfolds with shimmering clarity, and takes us from the harsh northern Irish coast in the 1840s to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa at the time of Confederation to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake during the present day. Graceful and moving, Away unites the personal and the political as it explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Powerful, intricate, lyrical, Away is an unforgettable novel.

Actor and filmmaker Jay Baruchel (Quebec) Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan.

Hugh MacLennan's iconic 1945 novel Two Solitudes instantly became a symbol for one of Canada's most challenging dichotomies: the divide between French and English. The Tallard family stands in for the entirety of Canada: Athanase Tallard is born of an aristocratic French-Canadian tradition, while his beautiful wife Kathleen is of Irish heritage. Their son Paul, meanwhile, must reconcile the conflicting interests in his blood — he is at home speaking both French and English, but feels alienated from both cultures...and he is struggling to write a novel that will help define his Canadian identity. Two Solitudes won the Governor General's Award for fiction when it was published in 1945, and went on to become a classic work about Canadian identity.

Comedian Trent McClellan (Atlantic provinces), February by Lisa Moore.

In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O'Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns on the rig. It begins in the present-day, more than twenty-five years later, but spirals back again and again to the "February" that persists in Helen's mind and heart. Writing at the peak of her form, her steadfast refusal to sentimentalize coupled with an almost shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore gives us her strongest work yet. Here is a novel about complex love and cauterizing grief, about past and present and how memory knits them together, about a fiercely close community and its universal struggles, and finally about our need to imagine a future, no matter how fragile, before we truly come home. This is a profound, gorgeous, heart-stopping work from one of our best writers.

I can't wait to get started!  I'm somewhat ashamed to say I haven't read any of these books, but I'm looking forward to getting my hands on them very soon.

If you want more info on the books or the panelists visit here.

1 comment:

John Mutford said...

I'd have liked at least one on the least that I've already read. I like to read all the contenders so I can make an informed opinion, but I don't know if I'll get through five books in time (not with others that I'm not willing to move from my immediate TBR pile). I've read another book by Lisa Moore though, so even though I enjoyed it (Alligator), she won't be the first one I try to get to in time. I've always wanted to read Two Solitudes, so that'll probably take precedence.