Canada Reads·Canada Reads 2018

How Canada Reads panellist Mozhdah Jamalzadah is preparing for the debates

The singer and TV host is defending The Boat People by Sharon Bala on CBC's battle of the books.
Mozhdah Jamalzadah is defending The Boat People by Sharon Bala on Canada Reads 2018. (CBC)

Mozhdah Jamalzadah is a singer-songwriter who has performed for the Obamas and was dubbed the "Oprah of Afghanistan" for her efforts to tackle taboo topics as a TV host in Kabul. Her work hosting The Mozhdah Show led to death threats, and she was advised to return to Canada where she continues to release new music. The singer and activist will defend Sharon Bala's debut novel The Boat People on Canada Reads 2018, a story about a Sri Lankan father and son who seek asylum in Canada. 

The debates take place March 26-29, 2018 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan.

Jamalzadah discussed how she is preparing for Canada Reads 2018 with Bob Murphy, host of CBC Halifax's Mainstreet, on Jan. 30, 2018.

Think beyond the book

"I met Sharon Bala and I have just been bombarding her with questions about The Boat People and the group of Sri Lankan refugees in her fiction. These characters linger with you like ghosts after you read the book. The Boat People is about humanity and opening your door to another human being who has nothing left in the world due to war and circumstances out of their control. As Canadians, we have to remember that we were all immigrants at some point."

Share her personal connections

"I have a connection with this book because I am a refugee myself. My parents fled the war in Afghanistan and reading this book gave me a whole new perspective on what they must have gone through when I was a child. Defending The Boat People is going to be natural for me because I'm very passionate about this topic. It's one of the best books I have ever read and my passion is going to do the work for me."

Don't be intimidated 

"I grew up watching Fashion Television and I'm just in awe of Jeanne Beker. It's going to be challenging for me to go up against my idols and try to defend my book. Every single panellist is so smart and knows their books. I feel everyone is my competition."

The Canada Reads 2018 contenders:

Mozhdah Jamalzadah, defending The Boat People by Sharon Bala
Tahmoh Penikett, defending American War by Omar El Akkad
Greg Johnson, defending Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
Jeanne Beker, defending Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto
Jully Black, defending The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline    

Listen to the full interview:

Canada Reads 2018 panellist Mozhdah Jamalzadah explains her attachment to Sharon Bala's novel The Boat People. 7:50

Mozhdah Jamalzadah's comments have been edited and condensed.


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