CBC Books' Writers to Watch share their picks for novels that could change Canada

Each year, CBC Books selects 10 "writers to watch" -- that is, up and coming authors who have what it takes to make a mark on the Canadian literary landscape. We thought we should ask the 10 writers chosen for 2013 (who all of Canada should read!) what novels they thought has the power to change our nation. See what they chose below!

Cassie Stocks chose Roost by Ali Bryan:


"I chose Roost because it's a marvelous book and because I'm proposing a change to Canada's literary landscape. As a country, in part defined by our literature, we might learn -- as the rule not the exception -- to take our humorous literature (yes, I used those two words together) seriously. It takes self-confidence to laugh at yourself, to be defined not only by your tragedies but also by your joy and your foibles. We need more of that "joie de vivre" -- an exultation of ourselves as uniquely, wonderfully flawed and funny Canadians. It's time for a revolution of modern Canadian humorous literature because, as Peter Ustinov said, 'Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.'"

Rebecca Silver Slayter chose Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien:


"This book stays and stays with me. There is something exquisitely intimate in its pages, a view into a privacy of experience that I've encountered in few other novels. Reading Dogs at the Perimeter, I am taught again what reading is, the vastness it can bring to our experience of the world, widening the margins of what we've seen and felt. Tunneling back to 1970s Cambodia, across continents in time and place, and then mining deep into the heads and hearts of its characters, this quiet, brave book is an education in empathy. It inspires the reader to confront seemingly incomprehensible events in human history, hinting at the irresponsibility and danger of surrendering the attempt to comprehend. Wrenched out of the lessons of history, these are lessons for the heart."

Kenneth Bonnert chose The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman:


"I'll nominate The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. It's not set in Canada, but written by a Canadian. The book has a global feel, peopled with expatriate characters from different parts of the world. In part it's about the societal changes caused by disruptive technology."


Sara Peters chose Y by Marjorie Celona:

From O Magazine: "A meditation on loss, identity, and family, Y showcases a tenacious young writer as she schools us in compassion and ultimately cleans house."

Spencer Gordon chose Savage 1986-2011 by Nathaniel Moore:


"Writing in 2009 for the National Post, Mark Medley dubbed author Nathaniel G. Moore 'a writer so far removed from the CanLit conversation that he might as well be writing in another language' -- an honour that may at first glance sound like baffled, even backhanded praise, but trust me: if you've got your head screwed on right, this is the best of compliments. So it is with Moore's latest, Savage 1986-2011, a novel released this month from Vancouver's Anvil Press, and which continues to defy the narrative and stylistic clich├ęs of our award-winning tomes while still (somehow) remaining utterly Canadian, utterly Torontonian, and utterly of its time. We read for so many reasons, but if 'social change' is yours, then Savage is a must, boasting a sweeping tour of nostalgia, melancholy, and private, pop-addled history, ranging from the Cold War Reagonomics of 1980s Leaside to the Post-Sacred haunts of late-2000s Bloorcourt. Twinning the crumbling mausoleums of our collective spectacles to a private coming-of-age story like you've never read, Savage judders with vitality, mourning a life lived in the spotlight of art, beneath the menace of family, and ravaged by the forever-cuts of love."

Saleema Nawaz chose Cockroach by Rawi Hage:


"Cockroach is a book that shows another side of Montreal and one that is often ignored: namely, that it is a city of many peoples and many languages. Hage's novel depicts the grittiness of an urban winter and an immigrant in search of a better life, haunted by his past and marginalized by racism and poverty."

John Vigna chose The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway:


"The Cellist of Sarajevo traces the lives of three everyday civilians caught in the crisis of war as they struggle to survive: Arrow, a female sniper assigned to protect a cellist who plays at the site of a mortar attack for 22 days in a row to honour the 22 people killed in the blast; Kenan, who risks his life every day by crossing the city to gather drinking water for his family; and Dragan, a baker, who is confronted with the everyday brutality tearing apart the city he calls home. The Cellist of Sarajevo is a lean, profound novel that examines our motivations, values, and dignity in times of inconceivable violence and oppression. It's a story that asks if art is a luxury or a necessity. A story that challenges readers to look beyond themselves and their borders, their attitudes and principles and in doing so stretches their own humanity. It's a story that changes lives. What more could we ask of a book?"

Ayelet Tsabari chose My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki:


"In My Year of Meats, Ruth L. Ozeki takes on the meat industry and corporate America, and tackles issues of racism, cross-cultural tensions, sexism and body image. The book is fiercely political but Ozeki's treatment of these topics is never didactic or righteous and makes for a fast-paced, funny, and compelling read."

Yasuko Thanh chose The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields:


From the New York Times Book Review: "Carol Shields has explored the mysteries of life with abandon, taking unusual risks along the way. The Stone Diaries reminds us again why literature matters."

Jowita Bydlowska chose Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger:


"My pick is Tamara Faith Berger's Maidenhead because we are in serious need of books in this country that are not polite, nor talk about things like spruce. Maidenhead is a peculiar coming-of-age story that is perfectly contained within its own universe of beauty and filth. It is written in a quiet but insistent voice that stays with the reader long after the story is finished. "

Which one of these picks do you think has what it takes to change Canada? Cast your vote below! The more votes a book has, the more likely it will land on our Top 40 list and be one step closer to being on Canada Reads 2014. The poll will be open until Sunday, October 20, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

What is the one novel that could change our nation?

Once you've voted, don't forget to submit your own recommendations here and enter our inspiring reads contest here!

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