Jeopardy! super-champion Mattea Roach is ready for her next big challenge: Canada Reads
Mattea Roach is championing the graphic memoir Ducks by Kate Beaton on the great Canadian book debate
Jeopardy! super-champion Mattea Roach is championing the graphic memoir Ducks by Kate Beaton on Canada Reads 2023!
The great Canadian book debate will take place on March 27-30. This year, we are looking for one book to shift your perspective.
The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Listen and on CBC Books.
The debates will take place live at 10:05 a.m. ET (that's an hour earlier than recent years!). You can tune in live or catch a replay on the platform of your choice. You can see all the broadcast details here.
A very personal story
Ducks is an autobiographical graphic novel that recounts author Kate Beaton's time spent working in the Alberta oil sands. With the goal of paying off her student loans, Beaton leaves her tight-knit seaside Nova Scotia community and heads west, where she encounters harsh realities, including the everyday trauma that no one discusses.
Beaton is a cartoonist from Nova Scotia who launched her career by publishing the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant online. The sassy historical webcomic gained a following of 500,000 monthly visitors and was eventually turned into a bestselling book. Beaton's success continued with the book Step Aside, Pops! and two children's books, King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.
"Going out there, I knew that I wasn't going to have a good time. I knew I wasn't gonna like it, but I knew that I should be grateful for the job I was going to get. The fact that somebody was going to hire me and give me money was the good thing. Back home, they were calling it things like 'money jail,'" Beaton told Shelagh Rogers during an interview on The Next Chapter.
Going out there, I knew that I wasn't going to have a good time. I knew I wasn't gonna like it, but I knew that I should be grateful for the job I was going to get.- Kate Beaton on working in the Alberta oil sands
"It doesn't evoke a sense of enjoyment, right? But I didn't know the details in any way. What I expected was to work for money that I should be grateful to have. And I never expected a corporation to treat me nicely, but I also didn't know exactly what I was stepping into."
LISTEN | Kate Beaton talks to Shelagh Rogers about Ducks:
Ducks was named one of CBC Books' top Canadian comics of 2022 and was also one of two Canadian books on Barack Obama's list of favourite books of 2022.
When writing the story, Beaton knew she was sharing her personal experience, but also that it would reflect the story of her wider Cape Breton community.
"There has been a lot of support since the book came out, since it's my autobiography. But I am also representing where I am from. So I always hope that I would do a good job of that, that I would represent my community and where I am from in an honest way and a way that will make people feel seen and heard, Beaton told Tom Power on Q.
It's this representation that has made the book's success so meaningful. "When people from home enjoy the book — that makes me feel the most gratified."
LISTEN | Kate Beaton reflects on the success of Ducks:
From Jeopardy! to Canada Reads
Mattea Roach is the most successful Canadian competitor in Jeopardy! history. In the spring of 2022, they won a record-setting 23 games. They appeared in the 2022 edition of Jeopardy!'s tournament of champions and will star in the Jeopardy! Masters spin-off.
They are also a writer and podcast host. They are originally from Halifax, but currently live in Toronto.
WATCH | Mattea Roach on life after Jeopardy!:
"I'm proud of how I did. To get to play Jeopardy! one time, one game, is such a huge honour and is a life highlight for most people who get to do it. So the fact I've now gotten to play, in total, 26 games of Jeopardy!, a 24-2 record is something I am pretty happy with," Roach told The National in November, shortly after their record-setting Jeopardy! run ended. "I had so much fun."
The run turned Roach from a recent University of Toronto grad and aspiring law student into a household name in Canada.
"I've had so many cool opportunities come across my desk as a result of Jeopardy!, things I could have never really imagined," they said. "I feel like the my life is still in the process of changing because of Jeopardy!"
LISTEN | Mattea Roach reflects on how Jeopardy! changed their life:
A comic book on Canada Reads? Yes, please
Ducks is only the second comic books to appear on Canada Reads — the first was Jeff Lemire's Essex County in 2011. But don't let the format get in the way of checking it out.
"I love the way that Kate tells stories through her art and through prose," Roach said on Commotion. "One thing that graphic novels do so well is that they cut to the core of emotions, they cut to the core of storytelling because they have to present things in a way where they are not being too, too wordy and they are able to express really deep feeling through the artwork."
LISTEN | Mattea Roach makes their case for Ducks on Commotion:
And even though Ducks is about a young woman leaving the Maritimes to work in the Alberta oil sands, Roach believes the story has something for everybody.
"It is a book that is a memoir about a young woman from the East Coast, who went to work in the oil sands. So there's an angle for people from the Maritimes, but I think there are the stories of a lot of other trade workers from Alberta, from other parts of the country represented," Roach said in their 30-second pitch on CBC Radio's Q.
This book is a window into so many critical conversations about the environment, about Indigenous land rights, about the student debt crisis and about gender relations.- Mattea Roach on why Ducks should win Canada Reads 2023
"This book is a window into so many critical conversations about the environment, about Indigenous land rights, about the student debt crisis and about gender relations. So there is an angle for every person to have their perspective shifted in some way."
LISTEN | The Canada Reads 2023 contenders speak with CBC Radio's Q: