Canada Reads 2015 reveals finalists, panellists


Let the games begin.

Canada Reads, CBC's annual battle of the books competition, revealed this year's roster of panellists and contending books Tuesday morning on Q:

  • Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, will defend Ru by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman, a story inspired by the author's own experiences as a refugee from war-torn Vietnam.
  • Actress Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast, Smallville) will defend journalist Kamal Al-Solaylee's memoir Intolerable, which chronicles his journey as a Middle Eastern gay man finding a home in Canada while members of his family slip into hard-line interpretations of Islam.
  • Activist and social entrepreneur Craig Kielburger will defend The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, the acclaimed writer's critical and personal missive on what it means to be "Indian" in North America.
  • Broadcaster Elaine "Lainey" Lui (etalk reporter and co-host of The Social) will defend When Everything Feels like the Movies by Raziel Reid, an edgy work of YA fiction that explores youth, sexuality and the search for identity.
  • Singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright will defend And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins, a haunting meditation on aging and identity.
  • You can learn more about this year's contenders and panellists on our Canada Reads 2015 page.

    The 2015 show will be hosted by Wab Kinew, who won last year's competition defending The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. This year's panellists are tasked with identifying "the one book to break barriers."

    Canada Reads 2015 highlights "remarkable diversity"

    Kinew has said he's excited to see how the debates unfold, describing this year's contending books as offering "remarkable diversity."

    "[It's] going to allow us to explore topics as far flung as sexuality, religion and aging in different ways," he said.

    The debates will take place from March 16 to 19 and will air on CBC Radio One, stream online at CBC Books, and be broadcast on CBC-TV and documentary channel.

    The annual debate challenge began in 2002. This edition of Canada Reads marks the first time works of fiction and nonfiction will run against each other, as well as the first time a YA novel (When Everything Feels like the Movies) is part of the mix.

    Previous winning books include The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (2009), which is currently airing on CBC TV as a mini-series; The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis (2011); and In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje (2002). Some of Canada's most prominent artists, public figures and intellectuals have served as panellists over the years, including Justin Trudeau (2003), both Avi Lewis (2009) and his father Stephen Lewis (2014), Kim Campbell (2002), Jay Baruchel (2013) and Samantha Bee (2014).

    On each one-hour episode, one book is voted off by the panellists until one remains.