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The Canada Reads Books & Defenders: A Breakdown

The Canada Reads: Turf Wars debates are coming up, this February 11th to 14th. Time to get familiar with this year's contenders, each representing a different province, before you pick a side:




The Book: Two Solitudes, first published in 1945, tells the tale of Athanase Tallard, a French-Canadian man struggling to find his place during the First World War, amidst Canada's prevalent French-English dichotomy. 

The Author: Hugh MacLennan (d. 1990) was a highly-prolific Canadian author, who accumulated five Governor General's Awards, a Royal Bank Award, the Order of Canada, and the National Order of Quebec. 

The Defender: Jay Baruchel, a Canadian actor well-known for his parts in Million Dollar BabyKnocked Up, Tropic Thunder and Goon - for which he's received Canadian Screen Awards nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Baruchel, raised and based in Montreal, wanted to defend MacLennan's book about the French-English dichotomy in Canada because it resonated with his experiences growing up in Quebec. Baruchel is also a huge fan of the CBC, and excited to be a part of a CBC event - check out his love for the CBC in our interview with him right here:



Prairies and North


The Book: The Age of Hope focuses on "Hope", a girl born outside Winnipeg in the 1930s, who finds herself navigating the challenges of traditionalism, feminism, and family over a
span of fifty years. 

The Author: David Bergen has published seven novels and a collection of short stories since 1993. Raised as a Mennonite in Manitoba, Bergen has since won a Scotiabank Giller Award and has been a finalist for the Governor General's Award for English Language Fiction. 

The Defender: Ron MacLean is one of Canada's most experienced and beloved broadcasters, hosting Hockey Night in Canada for over 25 years. Though The Age of Hope is a book about the female experience, Bergen has said he feels it's "in good hands" with MacLean, who was drawn to Bergen's novel because of its universal themes of aging and mortality.


British Columbia and Yukon


The Book: Indian Horse takes the reader on a journey of cultural decline in 1960s Canada, through the eyes of an Ojibway man struggling against alcohol addiction, racism, and
cultural displacement. 

The Author: Richard Wagamese is one of Canada's leading Native authors and journalists. Originally from the Ojibway Wbasseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Wagamese has authored eleven titles since 1979. 

The Defender: Carol Huynh is a two-time Olympic medallist in Wrestling for Canada, and is the daughter of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees. Carol has loved reading from a young age, and has said that she was inspired to defend Indian Horse because she identified with the way the protagonist "found freedom through sport." 





The Book: Away, set in both Ireland and Canada, follows a family's complex past, from 1840s Ireland to present-day Ontario, dealing with both the personal and political problems of the ages. 

The Author: Jane Urquhart is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and is the author of seven internationally-acclaimed novels. Among other awards, Urquhart has won the Best Foreign Book Award, the Trillium Book Award, and the Governor General's Award for English Language Fiction. 

The Defender: Charlotte Gray, a British-born Canadian historian and author, is also a Member of the Order of Canada. Gray felt drawn to defend Urquhart's novel because of its powerful characters, and "who doesn't love extreme women?" 





The Book: February tells the story of Helen O'Mara, widow of a Newfoundland fisherman, who deals with love and grief in a series of flashbacks to the traumatic shipwreck which claimed her husband in 1982.

The Author: Lisa Moore is a Giller Prize-nominated Canadian author of two novels and two collections of short stories, from St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Defender: Trent McClellan is a talented comedian, who has been featured on Just for Laughs, the CBC, the Comedy Network, and his own Comedy Now special. McClellan feels strongly that February is worth defending because, at its core, the novel is about relationships and death, "something that everyone can relate to."


Once you've picked your favourite Turf Wars novel, don't forget to catch the debates February 11th to 14th:

  • In-person (CBC Toronto) at 10am - e-mail for tickets
  • On CBC Books, livestreaming at 10am, or on-demand after noon
  • On CBC Radio One, at 11am and 8pm local time
  • On Sirius XM channel 159, at 11am, 4pm, and 8pm
  • On documentary channel, at 7pm and midnight

If you miss any of the action, don't worry! You can catch encore presentations on CBC-TV February 12th to 15th at 1pm local time (1:30pm NT); or, check out the one-hour recap special on February 16th   on CBC-TV (time TBA), CBC Radio One at 4pm local time (4:30pm NT), and Sirius 159 at 2pm.

For now, you can hear the authors and defenders discussing their novels right here, in this video from CBC Books:

Get ready to defend your Turf, Canada!

Related Articles:

CBC Books to Host Canada Reads Twitter Book Club

Canada Reads 2013 Annouces the Top 10s

Canada Reads Turf Wars Books and Panelists Unveiled

VIDEO: Canada Reads Launches Turf Wars 



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