Samantha Bee and Rawi Hage talk Canada Reads

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The Canada Reads 2014 contenders were revealed on November 27. The Daily Show's most senior correspondent Samantha Bee is a panelist this year, and she chose to defend Cockroach by Rawi Hage -- the story of a new immigrant to Montreal struggling to find means and meaning in his new home.

At first glance, Cockroach doesn't feel like a natural fit for the theme for Canada Reads this year: One Novel to Change Our Nation. But Bee isn't worried. "A book can change a person and then people can change the country," she said to Airplay's Dave White. "I think that this book lifts the veil ... the narrator is just an invisible person." She believes Cockroach will allow readers to take a good look at the people they come across in their everyday lives and see what's underneath.

Rawi Hage agrees. "All books tend to be an exchange between the reader and the writer," he said. "All fiction does is show us different possibilities. I think when we're exposed to complex scenarios or events or possibilities we tend to see the world in a more open, more spacious, more humane way."

Of course, it helps that Cockroach is "beautifully written, beautifully crafted and extremely entertaining," Bee said. The most successful, powerful and life-changing art often has far more humble beginnings. As an artist, "you set out to tell a story the best way you possibly can," Bee said. "And if the reverberations from that story are effective and affect people, that's the miracle of fiction. That's why we read."

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