Canada Reads 2014: The contenders

Miss the debates? Watch all the episodes here.

The Winner: Wab Kinew defends The Orenda by Joseph Boyden


Wab Kinew is an award-winning journalist, aboriginal activist and hip-hop artist. He's currently the first director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.

The Orenda is a visceral portrait of life at a crossroads in early Canadian history, and about the arrival of a Jesuit missionary into the life of a Huron elder and a gifted young Iroquois girl.

Joseph Boyden is the author of three novels, including Through Black Spruce, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2008.

Stephen Lewis defends The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood


Stephen Lewis is one of Canada's most prominent philanthropists. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he's the chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which provides support to women and children in Africa living with HIV/AIDS.

The Year of the Flood is the second book in Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, which deals with a dystopic future world that emerges after years of environmental degradation.

Margaret Atwood is one of Canada's most beloved writers and respected thinkers, with more than 40 books to her credit -- novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children.

Donovan Bailey defends Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan


Donovan Bailey is one of the fastest people in the world, and was a two-time gold medallist at the 1996 Olympic Games. He still holds the world record for the indoor 50-metre dash.

Evoking the world of Paris during the Second World War, Half-Blood Blues is about the disappearance of Hiero, a talented young black German jazz musician at the hands of the Nazi Party, and his friend and fellow musician, Sid, who is still coming to terms with Hiero's fate 50 years later.

Esi Edugyan is one of Canada's hottest young writers. Half-Blood Blues is her second novel, and it won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011.

Samantha Bee defends Cockroach by Rawi Hage


Samantha Bee is an award-winning comic, actor and writer. She has been a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2003.

Set during a frigid Montreal winter, Cockroach is an urgent, unsettling and insightful novel about the city's immigrant community.

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut and has lived in Montreal since the early 1990s. He is the author of three acclaimed novels, and is currently the writer-in-residence at the Vancouver Public Library.

Sarah Gadon defends Annabel by Kathleen Winter


Sarah Gadon is one of Canada's most promising young actors and a rising star in Hollywood. She has appeared in David Cronenberg's two most recent films, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis, and will be seen in several major films in 2014.

Annabel is a sensitive and compelling portrait of an intersex child who is raised in rural Newfoundland as male, and yet is unable to repress his feminine side.

Kathleen Winter is an award-winning author and former columnist for the Telegram in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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