*Trumpets and Fanfare*
And the Canada Reads 2010 selections and their champions are:
- Good to a Fault, by Marina Endicott. Championed by professional broadcaster Simi Sara.
- Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Championed by Olympic track star Perdita Felicien.
- The Jade Peony, by Wayson Choy. Championed by physician and humanitarian Samantha Nutt.
- Generation X, by Douglas Coupland. Championed by rapper/poet Roland Pemberton.
- Nikolski, by Nicolas Dickner, trans. Lazer Lederhendler. Championed by author Michel Vézina.
Now my knee-jerk reactions to the picks, champions, and initial pitches:
I’ll admit, though I own Good to a Fault, I keep eyeing it suspiciously. I think it has to do with the cover, which though some people love, I just loathe. It looks overly wholesome to me, reeking of whole grains from the prairies (I should be over this old bias by now, but apparently, I’m not). It looks like something you SHOULD read rather than something you’d want to. That said, I’ll probably eat those words later, but that’s just my gut instinct. Also, one of last year’s Giller nominees? Bor-ing. But believe radio broadcasters have the potential to make great advocates, so we’ll see.
I was thrilled to see Fall on Your Knees get some love, since it’s probably my favourite Canadian novel, though of course it doesn’t exactly need another platform. After the Commonwealth Prize, the Giller shortlist, and the “Golden O” seal of approval, it got major international recognition. So while my heart ‘s with this one, I’d like to see something that had less exposure take the prize. I was pretty disappointed with Perdita’s 30-second pitch. It’s not about how you liked it, it’s about how other people will. Where are the awards, the stats, the visceral reaction? My one-line pitch for this book? “It’s like getting repeatedly kicked in the stomach and still begging for more.”
I know very little about The Jade Peony, but from reading the synopsis I think I’d enjoy it. I’ve read very little Chinese-Canadian history beyond last year’s CR panelist Jen Sookfong Lee’s The End of East, so I think reading this book will feel like a fresh experience. I also think Samantha Nutt is going to be a formidable debater, and for that reason alone, I can see The Jade Peony sticking around.
I’ve read a few Coupland novels, but never the one that started it all. I found Coupland’s next to-last offering The Gum Thief to be a little bit of a retread of his other work, so it’ll be interesting to go back to his first success. I’ve never heard of Roland Pembleton or his alter-ego Cadence Weapon, but I thought his initial pitch was fairly eloquent. Certainly it’s nice to see something more modern and off-beat in the mix, even if it is still “iconically canadian.”
As for Nikolski, I don’t know anything about the author or the book. But last year’s french offering proved to be fresh and enjoyable, and a dark horse favorite among readers. As for Vezina, he can breathe fire. Being part dragon could help when things get heated (There it is, the first bad joke of the competition!)
And on the choices as a whole? Some good books, some well-known authors, but no big surprises, and I would have liked to see more small press representation — this kind of competition makes the biggest difference to them. All of the books are also fairly recent, the earliest book published in 1991 (GenX). All the books were bestsellers/and or award winners. Solid choices, but safe choices. But the panelists are lively and have diverse backgrounds, and as the reveal approached, my little heart was a-racing. So March still can’t come fast enough.
Now, my two cents aside, here are some things you can do to make your Canada Reads 2010 experience exponentially more exciting:
- Get the books. You can get them for a deal from the CBC, or from any major bookseller, or from your friendly neighbourhood bibliotheque.
- Read ‘em. (All of them.)
- Review ‘em. Do it on your blog and leave links here or just add comments to other people’s posts. And if you’re a blogger, join the Canada Reads Reading Challenge over at Roughin’ It in the Books, a wicked review site run by two courageous women reading the NCL start to finish (or start to exhaustion). It’s good fun, and a great place to discuss as well!(@RIITB)
- Follow the coverage at the CBC Book Club and on the Canada Reads site. Since Hannah Sung’s gone on a vacay, it’s being temporarily hosted by the brilliant and inimitable Julie Wilson of Seen Reading and Book Madam fame (@BookMadam). It’s bound to knock your wooly winter socks off. The CBC also does a great job collecting bonus content like interviews and the sweet video testimonial (which I dearly hope will make a return this year), and has active forums for discussion. But, y’know, you could come here too.
Also, if you couldn’t get to the reception in the CBC atrium today, check out the tweets from Erin Balser @booksin140. It’s the next best thing to being there! Thanks, Erin!
So, what are people’s initial thoughts on the choices? Any you’re looking forward to or dreading?