Yesterday on Canada Reads, we went from a touchy feely discussion of the modern family to Michel Vézina criticizing the reading skills of his fellow panelists. Today we start with Jian saying the Canada Reads books “sell like tickets to a Justin Bieber concert” (which may or may not have elicited a national cringe).
Before we get on to the main event, the highlights (or lowlights) from the Post-Day 4 Confessional:
- All Perdita can say is OMG and the other panelists seem genuinely shocked that the giant was felled
- Samantha Nutt claims she gives up on strategy
- Rollie decided to Keep It Real. Amen, brother.
- Simi admits she loved Nikolski (knowing this would make today’s vote less stressful)
- Michel says no one in Quebec thought it was too complicated . . . ooooooo
- Rollie condemns Good to a Fault calling it undeveloped and saying “I know a lot of moms who are into it”
And so the vote (and the re-vote!):
RP: Good to a Fault, SS: Nikolski, SN: Nikolski, MV (who apparently doesn’t know how to vote strategically) Jade Peony, PF: Good to a Fault (which was quite shocking to me, considering her frequent criticism of the book).
And so then, a dramatic re-vote, where clearly Simi Sara would be the deciding factor for the first of two times today:
MV: Good to a Fault, SS: Nikolski, RP: Good to a Fault, SN: Nikolski, PF: Good to a Fault
And then I may have cried out in excitement (which is somewhat frowned upon in an office environment). Not that I didn’t appreciate Good to a Fault, I just don’t think it’s the book that’s going to get all of Canada jazzed about reading, and I REALLY didn’t want to see Nikolski go.
Mentioning that with two smaller books remaining in the competition, we have something approaching a fair fight, Jian asks which author constructed the most vivid images and used language most vividly?
The panelists who are not championing one of the final books all get nice and comfortable on the fence, and Jian has to point out they’re “tremendously different writing styles.” Thankfully, Samantha Nutt really shines here, referencing specific images and metaphors in The Jade Peony (specifically the wind chimes, which were my favorite image in the novel as well). Michel chooses to focus on sensory details in Nikolski, saying he could smell the fish in the shop (which seems like an unfortunate example).
The last question asks which book is more relevant for people across the country today. As first generation Canadians, Perdita & Simi think The Jade Peony is still enormously relevant, though Simi notes that Nikolski‘s scope could make it more identifiable for a broad audience.
In a chance for final arguments, Michel Vezina stresses that Nikolsi gives you a picture of Canada and Canada in the rest of the world. Samantha Nutt says The Jade Peony asks, “What does it actually mean to be Canadian,” and that perhaps the Canadian experience is actually in the asking. I actually thought that was a pretty significant insight in all the debate over Canadianness that comes up for the competition. Perhaps being Canadian is the very act of continually questioning our own identity (something that is central in The Jade Peony and Nikolski).
And now, the final vote:
Let’s face it, this came down to Simi Sara once again, and I would have left her vote until last. SN & MV for their own, SS: Jade Peony, PF: Nikolski, RP: Nikolski
And so, Nikolski becomes the biggest fish in the Canada Reads pond.
In the post-vote disucssion, Michel identifies the TSN turning point being that FOYK fell so soon, which I think is accurate. FOYK is the only one that might have had a chance to fell Nikolski. Rollie also notes the importance of having a book that doesn’t have an identity. (Here’s hoping panelists take that under consideration next year.)
Interestingly, the Civilians Read competition played out only slightly differently (exchange the second and fourth elimination), and the result was the same: Nikolski. So given this insight, how important is the panelist factor? For anyone who followed Civilians Read, I’d love to have you weigh in with you thoughts.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce the winner of our Civilians Read best panelist poll. And the Oscar goes to . . . Natalie St. Pierre. Congrats, Natalie, and thank you for your preparation, your eloquence, and your great radio voice! A fabulous prize is coming your way. Also a huge thank you to all those who took the time to stop by for discussion during the Civilians Read and Canada Reads broadcast. The engaging discussion and contagious enthusiasm is what makes all the hard work worthwhile. Also, stay tuned for a new project announcement today at 3:00 involving me and fellow Civilian Erin Balser.
And so, Celebs and Civilians alike declare Nikolski is the book that all of Canada should read. And despite some of the panelists’ struggles with the book’s complexity, I have a feeling Canadians will be delighted.