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Canada Reads titles 2020

 

CBC Radio’s battle of the books is over for another year.

The show was originally scheduled for the 3rd week in March, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After 4 days of debate, Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir, defended by Amanda Brugel, was the winner.

All five books (fanned out awkwardly in my hand) are well worth your time (Son of a Trickster is my personal favourite).

I spoke to local CBC radio shows across the country from St. John’s to Winnipeg to Whitehorse to recap some of the heated and most heartfelt moments from this year’s debates.

Memoirs and Misinformation by Jim Carrey

 

“Should I Read It?” review for Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon. 

Listen to the review HERE

Jim Carrey wrote a novel – with novelist Dana Vachon. It’s “a novel” but it’s called “Memoirs and Misinformation.” The book cover carries a Jim Carrey quote: “None of this is real and all of it is true.” The protagonist is a Hollywood star named Jim Carrey who shares a biography with the real Jim Carrey. It’s a novel that has a foot in the memoir camp then.

It’s a story about apocalypse (mid-2020 timely), Hollywood excess (always timely), and fear of the end of relevance (always timely to people of a certain stature above a certain age, perhaps). It is certain to be a bestseller.

But should YOU read it?

My review for Day 6 on CBC Radio >> listen here

Day 6 Summer Reads 2020

 

An eagerly awaited (by me definitely, and also by many others) new novel by the The Outlander author Gil Adamson, a domestic page-turner of from Katrina Onstad, stunning debut fiction from poet Souvankham Thammavongsa, and a debut from American Gabriel Bump, centred around a fictional race riot in Chicago.

All four of my summer reads recommendations this year landed at the exact right time: books to provide escape and reflection in a year unlike any other.

 

 

2020 Holiday Gift Guide CBC

Another year, another holiday gift guide. It wasn’t my intention to choose books whose covers were so matchy-matchy, but it’s a nice bonus if you want to splurge and buy them all together!

Listen to the audio here >> LISTEN

My top picks for 2019 are:

The Innocents by Michael Crummey – my favourite Canadian novel of the year

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry – my favourite non-Canadian novel of the year

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow – already a Pulitzer Prize winner and major buzz book, this book about the journalist’s pursuit of the Harvey Weinstein story reads like a le Carré novel

Agnes, Murderess by Sara Leavitt – an awesome Canadian historical graphic novel with a queer subplot and gothic vibe, this will appeal to teens and adults

Just Because by Mac Barnett illus. Isabelle Arsenault and King Mouse by Cary Fagan illus. Dena Seiferling – two picture books for little kids that tell two very different stories, both about kindness, patience, and the magic of imagination.

 

 

The literary “season” is upon us, with award nominations coming thick and fast.

Below, a summary of my coverage for the Globe & Mail.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist was announced Sept. 3, the same day that Margaret Atwood was named to the Booker Prize shortlist in the UK (she was on both). Read my story here.

Then, on Sept. 17, the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction shortlist was announced. For the first time, all five books in contention are written by women. Read my story here.

The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize shortlist came next, on Sept. 24. No Atwood here, but repeat appearances for André Alexis, Michael Crummey and Alix Ohlin, and a great morning for Canadian independent presses. Read my story here.

On Sept. 30, the Giller Prize longlist was whittled down to a shortlist of six. Past winners Atwood and Alexis failed to make the cut, but Michael Crummey and Alix Ohlin chalked up a second shortlisting each. The shortlisted six  – who hail from across the country – include a majority of writers who are successful in genres beyond fiction (poetry and drama). Read my story here.

I didn’t write about the Governor General’s Literary Awards shortlists this year, but they were announced on Oct. 2, when it became the year of Michael Crummey. He is the only author to appear on all three lists (his novel, The Innocents, is fantastic BTW).

 

On Sept. 10, Margaret Atwood released The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Thanks to the global attention surrounding Atwood, the book, and the TV show of The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s safe to say this is one of the biggest books of the year, with the publisher enforcing ferocious non-disclosure agreements on prize juries, booksellers and advance juries (though that didn’t quite work out as planned).

Should you read it?

My review for CBC Radio One’s Day 6 is here

 

Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead’s follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning The Underground Railroad is one of the big-buzz releases of the summer.

Whitehead is on the cover of TIME, heralded as “America’s Storyteller,” and The Nickel Boys tells another dark chapter in American history.

Should you read it? Listen to my review here.

Summer Reads 2019 CBC

 

My summer reads picks for this year are here! (Beach towel and Wayfarer-wearing fox friend not included)

Listen to the segment here.

 

sally rooney

 

Sally Rooney = international literary sensation.

Her new novel, Normal People, has been out for aaaaaages in the UK and Ireland, but has only just made it to North America.

Should you read it?

My review for Day 6 >> audio.

2019 Holiday Reads

 

Books: they’re easy to wrap! (I say this every year, but it’s true).

My annual Holiday Gift Guide for CBC Radio’s Day 6  is here.

It includes:

SOME OF MY FAVOURITE FICTION OF 2018
Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart
Beirut Hellfire Society by Rawi Hage
Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page

A BIOGRAPHY & A MEMOIR THAT MAKE A GREAT PAIR
In Pieces by Sally Field
Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography by Andrea Warner

A GREAT GIFT FOR TEENS – A BOOK THAT SHOULD BE IN EVERY CANADIAN LIBRARY AND HOME
The Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada 

A PICTURE BOOK FOR LITTLES AT BEDTIME
Sleep, Sheep! by Kerry Lyn Sparrow. Illustrated by Guillaume Perreault