Johanna Skibsrud emerged as a big story in CanLit last year. First, her novel The Sentimentalists became a critical darling and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious fiction award. Then she won, and the fact that her small-press book was nearly impossible to get your hands on kept her in the headlines for even longer.
Recently, Skibsrud took part in the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal, where she spoke about the experience of winning the Giller with past winner Linden MacIntyre and CBC host Carol Off. This panel, and the other interviews done as part of CBC Blue, will be broadcast in the coming weeks on CBC Radio One. In the meantime, CBC Books caught up with Skibsrud and asked her about the last book she read and loved. Here's what she had to say:
"I'm teaching a children's literature course at the Université de Montréal this spring and so have had the opportunity to re-read a lot of the classics recently. The book that really stood out for me -- not only on that particular course list, but from all the books I've read lately -- was Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. I had read it when I was much younger but hadn't appreciated the subtlety and scope of the cultural and political analysis at work in the book. That, along with Twain's incredible attention to language and detail -- which, rather than interrupting the story line or slowing the reading down, in fact contributes to the books readability -- really blew me away."
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark TwainBuy this book at
First published in the U.S. in 1885, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
is widely considered one of the greatest American novels of all time. It is also one of the first books written in the American English vernacular. This is the story of a poor illiterate boy, Huckleberry Finn, who sets off on a journey down the Mississippi River to escape his violent father with a runaway slave, Jim, as his only companion. In the course of describing their adventures, Twain explores universal themes: the meaning of freedom, the need for moral courage and the hatefulness of racial and class prejudice.