Canada Reads·Highlight

Lisa Ray & Yanic Truesdale on the double standards experienced by male and female artists

The Canada Reads 2019 panellists discuss how male and female artists are criticized differently in society.
Lisa Ray and Yanic Truesdale defend the novel Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and translated by Rhonda Mullins. 1:06

For Day Two of Canada Reads 2019, the debates were a bit more critical and intense as the contending panellists made cases for why their book should be the one all Canadians should read.

Over the first two days of debate, panellists Chuck Comeau and Joe Zee have said it was hard to empathize with the main character of Suzanne because she made an unthinkable choice in abandoning her young children to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

But actor Lisa Ray, who is defending Brotherjumped in to point out that there are many celebrated male artists who rarely have faced criticism for their poor treatment of women and their children.

"Yes, we are talking about a woman who has made some unpopular, unconventional and even morally wrong decisions. But she was trying to go for it as an artist — how many men have done it and not actually paid the consequence? If you look at all the great artists, they are tortured. They have tortured lives. How many women did Picasso leave? How many kids did he have and then leave? It just might move you to see things different — [away] from seeing it from a patriarchal point of view," said Ray.

Suzanne defender Yanic Truesdale agreed with Ray and pointed out that Suzanne wasn't the only negligent parent in the picture.

"Suzanne's husband left for New York and that's one of the reasons why she left her kids. Because she was all by herself and couldn't take care of those kids. She didn't have a job, didn't have money, was left alone in a house. He would just show up for a day, everything was broken in the house and they had no money. Then he would go back again. She was like, 'I can't do this,'" said Truesdale.

Suzanne  was written by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and translated from French to English by Rhonda Mullins.

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