Adrienne Clarkson's choice for the novel that could change Canada

Adrienne.JPG Image: Alyssa Faoro Photography

Canada Reads 2014 is looking for the one novel that could change our nation. Who better to turn to for a recommendation than former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson? Clarkson came to Canada in 1941 as a refugee from Hong Kong and went on to become a prolific journalist and stateswoman. She was appointed the 26th Governor General of Canada in 1999 and remained in the post until 2005.

Adrienne Clarkson chose The Orenda by Joseph Boyden as the novel that could change Canada. She called it "a beautifully written Canadian epic." She writes:


"Joseph Boyden's The Orenda has taken the story of how Canada came to be and turned it on its head, transforming our collective memory. It is a tale of epic proportions with equal elements of beauty, violence and grace -- creating a novel that will carry weight well beyond the borders of Canada. Joseph creates his own style of magic realism while exploring the complexities of First Nations' relationships with each other and their early dealings with the colonial powers of the time. It is a story that covers pertinent themes for our country as we are still trying to navigate the complex relationship between First Nations and Canada.

By telling the story of early contact with Europeans from the Aboriginal perspective, The Orenda demonstrates the type of understanding and recognition essential for any positive progress to be made. The Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo recalled, in his recent Lafontaine-Baldwin Lecture, what his very wise grandmother said to him after the official apology for residential schools was read in the House of Commons in 2008: "Grandson, they are only beginning to see us." The Orenda is a literary work that will open Canada's eyes further. Joseph has said that his First Nations ancestry and Jesuit education made The Orenda a book he was born to write, and I think it has come at the right time for Canada to read."

Do you agree with Adrienne Clarkson? If so, consider making The Orenda one of your five picks! The more recommendations a book has, the bigger chance the book has to make the Top 40! You can submit your recommendations here.

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