Alayna Fender argues that her Canada Reads contender might not inspire hope — but it could inspire change
During the third round of Canada Reads 2020, panellists were asked about how their book inspires hope.
The book takes place during a bleak winter storm and chronicles the diverse, interconnected lives of people in downtown St. John's. Each character's life has been marked by acts of violence, misogyny, racism and classicism.
Fender argued that the absence of hope in Coles's novel serves a greater purpose — to inspire change.
Read her argument below.
Alayna Fender: "To discuss Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club in a context of hope — it's not really going to work. If you're asking me who I think gave me the most hope out of all of these books, it's [We Have Always Been Here].
"Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club drives you off a cliff. It's not here to make you feel hopeful. The ending of this book is heart-wrenching.
"When we have a book that ends with hope, that ends with a happy ending, we as a reader can walk away and feel like our job is done. They're doing great. This book, the character, the real life person, they have triumphed. No further work needed.
"Whereas with Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, you are left feeling….We get to decide, as an audience, as a community. Nothing has changed in this book. These characters haven't changed. The systems that are in place haven't changed. And so that's why we get the ending that we get. We walk way knowing that there's work to be done.
"In that way, the lack of hope inspires change."
The Canada Reads 2020 contenders and their chosen books are:
- Alayna Fender defending Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
- Akil Augustine defending Radicalized by Cory Doctorow
- Amanda Brugel defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
- Kaniehtiio Horn defending Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
- George Canyon defending From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle