It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, and I’m going to feature some CanLit. But these books aren’t just any Canadian books: they’re this year’s Canada Reads selections, which I’m desperately trying to read before I cash in my tickets to see the Canada Reads debates live and in person at the end of this month.
A quick primer on Canada Reads, for those who might not be familiar: the CBC hosts a program every spring to feature five Canadian books. Over the course of a single, mad-cap week, five panellists of semi-celebrity status fight for the right to name their chosen novel as the Canada Reads winner – the book that every Canadian should read. (You can read more about this grand tradition here.)
This year they’ve picked books that fall into a theme: starting over. Which is just broad enough that just about anything can fit into it.
Here are the books on tap in this year’s competition, and you can catch my full reviews of most of them (if not all of them, fingers crossed) in the next few weeks:
Some short synopses for you (with links to Goodreads, if you’re into that):
Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter: Henry responds to a bad break-up by taking a contract in Iraq. When working in a war zone ends with an old friend killed in action, he returns to Newfoundland to literally and figuratively rebuild.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg: After two decades of unhappiness and dashed hopes, Bernice – Birdie – lays down to sleep and refuses to get up. She’s separates her body from her spirit to finally face the wounds of past and lay them to rest, or die trying.
Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz: Sisters Beena and Sadhana share everything: the grief of their parents deaths, a childhood in their uncle’s Montreal bagel shop, the rich heritage of two cultures. And then, suddenly, their lives split – separating the sisters, maybe forever.
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill: Keita escapes the cruel dictatorship of his homeland to make a better life for himself in a new land, by doing what he loves best – running marathons. But even in a new country, he must fight: to ransom his kidnapped sister, to avoid the authorities who would deport him as “an illegal”, and to find happiness when the state seems hell-bent on denying him even the basic rights of personhood.
The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami: Sripathi is a middle-aged advertising copywriter living in a fictional Indian town off the Bay of Bengal. He navigates the domineering expectations of his aging mother, cataloguing small moments of pride and disappointment in his adult children – and then the sudden and necessary adoption of his 7-year-old Canadian granddaughter changes everything.