Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mercy Among the Children

CBC has launched the 2009 Canada Reads, which airs on CBC Radio March 2-6, 2009. Here's the lineup (annotations from CBC):
The Book of Negroes (2007) by Lawrence Hill
In Lawrence Hill’s gripping historical novel, an unforgettable heroine recounts a life story that spans more than 50 years and three continents. As Aminata Diallo moves from slavery to freedom, she fights to keep her dignity and find a place she can call home. Defended by: Avi Lewis

The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (1981) by Michel Tremblay. Translation of La grosse gemme d'à côté est enceinte (1978) by Sheila Fischman.
In his lively and lovely first novel, Michel Tremblay pays tribute to the working-class Montreal of his childhood. Over 24 hours, the daily activities and social dramas of several pregnant women and their eccentric neighbours add up to a whole world.
Defended by: Anne-Marie Withenshaw

Fruit (2004) by Brian Francis
Brian Francis’ debut novel captures the many agonies – and a few ecstasies – of puberty in vivid and sometimes surreal detail. Peter Paddington is 13 years old and overweight when he sprouts a pair of talking nipples. When they threaten to out his secret desires, Peter has to come up with a real-life plan to get along with himself and others. Defended by: Jen Sookfong Lee

Mercy Among the Children (2000) by David Adams Richards
The events of David Adams Richards’ wrenching, compassionate novel stem from one pivotal moment. When 12-year-old Sydney pushes a schoolmate off a roof, he promises God he’ll never harm anyone else if the boy lives. His vow sets him on a path to heartbreak. Defended by: Sarah Slean

The Outlander (2007) by Gil Adamson
The Outlander is a classic western narrative with one twist: its outlaw anti-hero is a woman on the run after murdering her husband. In her flight, “the widow” encounters a gallery of strange characters in the rugged landscape of pioneer Alberta. Defended by: Nicholas Campbell

My prediction for the winner is Mercy Among the Children, based entirely on the track record of books defended by pop musicians winning this contest (2008, 2007, 2006, 2004). But The Book of Negroes and The Outlander are also good solid reads, defended by persuasive people. Avi Lewis grew up discussing big ideas around the dinner table with his dad, Stephen Lewis. Now married to Naomi Klein I imagine he continues to have to be persuasive around the table! But Nicholas Campbell played beligerent, bellicose and persuasive coroner Dominic Da Vinci on TV 's Da Vinci's Inquest (now available on DVD!) for years - would you argue with Da Vinci?


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