The Current turns 10: Anna Maria Tremonti's most memorable author interviews
For 10 years, CBC's The Current has brought you provocative interviews with the world's newsmakers and cultural influencers. Hosted by veteran journalist Anna Maria Tremonti, the show has featured numerous authors over the years. To celebrate the program's 10th anniversary, we chatted with Anna Maria about her 10 most memorable literary interviews, which are highlighted below.
Andrew Nikiforuk: Tar Sands (2009)
Be sure to check out more of The Current's 10th anniversary programming at its special website, including the live broadcast on Monday, November 19.
Monique Lepine: Aftermath (2008)
"It's such a heartbreaking story and it's so surprising. When Monique Lepine heard that someone had massacred young women at École polytechnique she was going to a prayer meeting and she said, 'let's pray for the mother of the killer.' She didn't even know that she was the mother of the killer. And it is a soul-searching book, and it is not at all self-serving. This is a women who really suffered with the terrible thing that her son did, and it gives you insight into the mind and the heart and the soul of someone who realizes that a terrible killer is her son. It's a heartbreaking story, but it's also very surprising."
"I think this was the best Canadian journalistic book of 2008. It looked at an industry in ways that weren't getting a lot of attention. It looked at the social side. He talked about the fallout of the industry in a way that makes some people uncomfortable, but in a way that speaks to some concerns. So it's a provocative book but it is heavily researched and it stands out. At a time when most publications talk about the straight-up economics of the oil sands, he was looking at all sides, and he raises issues that had not been raised on a national scale."
Murray Brewster: The Savage War (2008)
"The most important book about Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Murray Brewster reported on the troops on the ground with
the troops on the ground, but he also went back to headquarters in Ottawa and he reported on the politics and the inner workings of the military. That's why this book is so important: it marries the decision-making of headquarters with the reality in theatre, and brings us a very stark, realistic and fascinating picture of Canadian troops in Afghanistan."
John Vaillant: The Tiger (2010)
"Masterful. It's not only a magnificent story of man against beast, woven through it is the story of life for regular Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Very few people have tracked the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on smaller communities in wider Russia. And he does it and he tells a story too, and it's amazing."
Xinran: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother (2011)
"We all know about the one-child policy, but Xinran tells us what it really meant. She introduces us to women who killed as many as four or five infants because they were the wrong gender and what they're going through now because they felt they had to do this. And she spells out the kind of infanticide that was underway. It is very moving, and highly disturbing. It made me weep. When I spoke to her, she made me weep, and she was crying in the interview too. But it's really important to know. And the other side of that is that in Canada there are a great many little girls and teenage girls who were adopted because someone gave them away. Her message to them is that 'your mother loved you enough to find a way to save your life.'"
Shin Dong-Hyuk and Blaine Harden: Escape from Camp 14 (2012)
"You cannot believe that anyone would treat a human being the way that Shin-Dong Hyuk was treated. It is gripping, compelling, highly disturbing. It gives us on a visceral level insight into what the North Korean government is doing to its own people. It's the story of the courage of one young man and it is extraordinary. I could not stop thinking about him after reading his book and talking to him. I just couldn't stop thinking about him."
Jung Chang and John Halliday: Mao: The Unknown Story (2005)
"Everything you ever wanted to know about Mao and didn't know you didn't know. It's extraordinary: it's the history of China and the revolution, it speaks to what China is today, it looks at everything from Mao's relationship with Stalin to Mao's relationship with his wives. It's so chock-a-block full of fascinating information on Mao. It's a history lesson, it's a story, and it's exhaustive. If you read that book, it is the history of China. You know what you need to know."
Janine DiGiovanni: Ghosts by Daylight (2011)
"This is a very personal book for me because I know Janine. I've covered war with Janine, I've sat at dinner tables with Janine. And this was a side of Janine that I didn't know. This is a dedicated, tough, compassionate journalist whose need to cover war turns on her and confronts her in ways she never imagined and affects the way she lives her life. It's a very moving story and it's full of insight. And at the end, Janine diGiovanni still covers war because she thinks it's too important not to."
Addison Wiggin and Bill Bonner: Empire of Debt (2006)
"They published this book in 2006. If you read this book, you knew the economic crisis of '08 was coming. This foretold the economic crisis of '08. This was proof that people saw it coming. It's a fascinating read, a chronicle of a crisis foretold."
Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine (2007)
"A research machine. It is provocative, it is thought-provoking, it makes you think. It may make you think differently. It is well worth reading."