11 february 2013

Canada Reads, and this time it's regional


Image courtesy of
Book covers of the contenders in Canada's annual Battle of the Books

The CBC Radio ‘battle of the books’ is an annual event. This year, in its 12th edition, it is taking on our Canadian identity in 5 regions, represented by novels from, and about the region.

It got going today with the first book, 'The Age of Hope', by David Bergen, representingCanada's Prairies & the North. According to the CBC’s website, ‘Bergen's novel follows the life of Hope Koop, a woman born in a small Manitoba town, who leads a safe, predictable life as a wife and mother, all the while pondering the meaning and importance of her quiet existence.’ The novel was passionately defended by Ron MacLean, a host on CBC television’s Hockey Night in Canada. In this first encounter, however, The Age of Hope, was voted off the list.

This is how the CBC website describes the remaining books in contention:
• Representing B.C. and the Yukon, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. An alcoholic Ojibway man looks back on his life from his time in residential school to the brief salvation he finds playing hockey. Defended by Olympic wrestler Carol Huyhn.

• Representing Ontario, Away by Jane Urquhart. Esther O'Malley Robertson relates the 140-year history that brought her family from the inhospitable shores of Ireland during the potato famine to the challenging realities of the Canadian Shield. Defended by author Charlotte Gray.

• Representing Quebec, Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan. Published in 1945, Two Solitudes tells the story of the Tallard family — Athanase Tallard is an aristocratic French-Canadian and his beautiful wife Kathleen is of Irish heritage, while their son Paul is torn between French and English cultures. Defended by actor Jay Baruchel.

• Representing Atlantic Canada, February by Lisa Moore. A Newfoundland woman’s life is shattered by the sinking of the Ocean Ranger and the death of her husband, Cal. In the years afterward, she struggles to raise her children and move on. Defended by comedian Trent McLellan.

Jian Gomeshi is the host of the program, and by Thursday of this week, a winner will have emerged. But they are all great books, and you just might want to give them a read for yourself. (ck)


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