Get to know your region's Top 5: Prairies and North

Hope or Trade? Late Nights or Diviners? Today, we guide you through your Prairie and North picks.

The Age of Hope by David Bergen

age of hope 110x180.jpg What's it about?
Written as a fictional memoir, Bergen's sixth novel spans 50 years in the life of Hope Koop, a small-town Manitoba housewife struggling to figure out who she is and what she really wants out of life.

What did the critics say?
Quill & Quire compared Bergen to Alice Munro, and other outlets commented that the novel is "quiet" but "moving and taut."

What else do I need to know?
Bergen is known for incorporating his Mennonite heritage into his writing, and he's won a slew of awards for his various novels over the years, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize (in 2005 for The Time in Between). Listen to him speak to Shelagh Rogers about another of his novels on The Next Chapter

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

the diviners 110x180.jpg What's it about?
Margaret Laurence's novel is the culmination of her famed Manawaka series set in a thinly disguised version of the Manitoba town where Laurence herself grew up. Morag Gunn is one of Laurence's most beloved characters, spirited, strong and independent.

What did the critics say?
The book won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 1974 and is widely considered a classic now, although several groups have tried to ban it over the years for "blasphemy."

What else do I need to know?
Check out the CBC Digital Archives for a collection of interviews with Laurence from over the years

The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak

the garneau block 110x180.jpg What's it about?
We meet the quirky residents of a fictional Edmonton cul-de-sac as they face the scandalous death of a neighbour and the unfortunate news that their land is about to be repossessed by the nearby university.

What did the critics say?
The Garneau Block was an instant "laugh-out-loud funny" hit when it first ran as a serial in the Edmonton Journal. The "inventive" and "fast-paced" story became a national bestseller when it was published as a novel in 2007.

What else do I need to know?
Listen to Babiak discuss his 2010 novel Toby: A Man with Jian Ghomeshi on Q. 

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

late nights on air 110x180.jpg What's it about?
A bitter, failed TV journalist returns to a small radio station in the North and falls in love with one of the on-air voices. The novel tells the stories of the transplanted employees at this northern radio station and what brought each of them to the North.

What did the critics say?
Hay has been compared to Alice Munro, Annie Proulx and A.S. Byatt, and praised for her "masterful storytelling."

What else do I need to know?
Late Nights on Air was the winner of the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize. You can listen to Hay take part in this panel discussion about storytelling hosted by Eleanor Wachtel on Writers & Company in June 2011. 


The Trade by Fred Stenson

the trade 110x180.jpg What's it about?
Set in 1822, The Trade is a fictionalized account of the Hudson's Bay Company's attempts to extend its monopoly in the fur trade by journeying into the as-yet unmapped territories occupied by the Blackfoot-speaking Indian tribes, and the impact of the company's 1921 merger with the North West Company.

What did the critics say?
The Globe and Mail called The Trade "one of the best historical novels to be written in this country" and Stenson was praised for his precise attention to detail.

What else do I need to know?
The Trade was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2010, and won the Grant MacEwan Author's Award, a City of Edmonton Book Prize and the Georges Bugnet Award for Best Novel.

Which one of these titles do you want to see on Canada Reads 2013? Let us know and you could win a Kobo Touch eReader!

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