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Shad and Something Fierce Win Canada Reads

Today was the final day of CBC's annual literary debate, Canada Reads. The first non-fiction winner was crowned after four days of intense and emotional debate, with Carmen Aguirre's Something Fierce - defended by Shad - coming out on top.

We spoke to Shad after today's final face-off:

Congratulations on your winning defence of Something Fierce.

Thank you. It's a pretty special book. I feel great about the fact that it's going to get out there a bit more.

Tell us how you relate to the book?

It's a very relatable story. It's a coming of age story, and there's nothing more relatable than that. Either you're going through that now, or you're past that, or you're on your way to that. There's nothing more relatable.

How much did you know about the Pinochet and the Chilean Resistance before reading the book?

Very little - that's a big part of what made me want to talk about this book. The thing that stood out for me the most - I said it on the first day - is that we have no compulsory world history education in Canada. None. That's not true elsewhere in the world. Sometimes we feel a little bit sheepish about that and it kind of hinders us from engaging even more because we don't know that much and we feel like we never can. That's one of the biggest issues that was raised in this book for me, even though this isn't a political book. It's just the issue of education, you know? There's so much history and context in this, that Carmen was raised and educated on from the time she was a little kid. It wouldn't be hard to do that here. I think that our world is increasingly global, right? It's getting sillier and sillier to not acknowledge the fact that our world is deeply interconnected and the lines that divide states have been significant. People from everywhere are here, and we're everywhere.

Tell us about the debates, there was a lot of suspense and emotion.

It was more emotional than I thought and more intense than I thought, but it was great. Regardless of the outcome, I think it ended on such a great tone. All the panelists could talk, joke and discuss intelligently together. It was great. Kudos to Jian Ghomeshi for that.

Did it go as expected for you? Did you see yourself being up against Alan Thicke and Ken Dryden in the end?

No, I had no idea what to expect as far as the votes went. I had just no clue. Partly because I'm not a literature critic... I really don't know genuinely what's "better" but I enjoyed all these books for different reasons. I really had no idea what the outcome would be.

Not being a literature "buff" - did you use that to your advantage to connect with the voters?

I just tried to talk honestly about what I thought was great about my book. I tried to point out the things I thought were great about other books too. Ultimately we're here so that all of these books get read, and that's it. And because it's fun. Those are the only two reasons any of us were here.

If you want to relive the tears, fights and passionate appeals, watch and listen to the Canada Reads 2012 debates here.




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