Canada Reads

Meet the Canada Reads 2020 contenders

The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books.
The Canada Reads 2020 debates will take place March 16-19. (CBC)

What is the one book all of Canada should read? It's time for Canada Reads 2020.

Over four days, the five defenders will bring their diverse perspectives to this year's theme: One book to bring Canada into focus.

The contenders and their chosen books are:

The panellists made their first cases for the books they chose to defend on CBC Radio's q.

To kick off this year's challenge, all five Canada Reads panellists get together in the q studio to introduce the books they are championing. 0:00

The debates were scheduled to take place March 16-19, 2020. Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19 and the related travel concerns, Canada Reads has made the difficult decision to postpone next week's event until we can convene our stellar panel of advocates in front of a live audience. 

Canada Reads content will still be featured next week, in a series of one hour programs dedicated to this year's books and authors.

If you'd like a poster for your school, bookstore or library, you can request one using this form.

If you'd like the Canada Reads books in an accessible format, you can find them here.

CBC Books has launched a Facebook group for those who want to read the Canada Reads 2020 books together. You can join the conversation here.

Get to know the Canada Reads 2020 contenders below. 

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles defended by Alayna Fender

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles is being defended by Alayna Fender on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, Megan Gail Coles's debut novel, revolves around a cast of flawed characters all connected to a trendy St. John's restaurant, The Hazel. Over the course of a snowy February day, they are implicated in each other's hopes, dreams and pains as they try to survive harsh economic times in the province. 

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Alayna Fender is a cat-loving, Canadian, LGBTQ YouTube content creator who brings her frank and funny perspective to a wide range of topics, with wellness and sexuality being her specialties. When she's not creating online content, she is teaching mindfulness, compassion and inclusion at workshops, conventions and schools across North America.

Megan Gail Coles is a playwright from St. John's. She previously published the short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome.

Radicalized by Cory Doctorow, defended by Akil Augustine

Akil Augustine is defending Radicalized by Cory Doctorow on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Radicalized is a collection of four novellas that explore the quandaries — social, economic and technological — of contemporary America. Cory Doctorow's characters deal with issues around immigration, corrupt police forces, dark web uprisings and more. 

Akil Augustine has worked with the National Basketball Association, Toronto Raptors, National Hockey League, Toronto Maple Leafs and Major League Soccer, as well as brands like Chapters Indigo and Nike as a content creator and producer. He's an avid public speaker and works with educators facilitating storytelling workshops to high school and post-secondary students.

Cory Doctorow is a bestselling sci-fi novelist whose past books include Little Brother and Walkaway. He is also the editor of the blog Boing Boing.

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib, defended by Amanda Brugel

Amanda Brugel is defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here is an exploration of the ways we disguise and minimize ourselves for the sake of survival. As a child, Habib hid her faith from Islamic extremists in Pakistan and later, as a refugee in Canada, endured racist bullying and the threat of an arranged marriage. In travelling the world and exploring art and sexuality, Habib searches for the truth of her identity. 

Amanda Brugel is an actor known for her roles in the film Room and the TV series Orphan Black, CBC's Workin' Moms, CBC's Kim's Convenience and Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale. She has recently joined the casts of TNT's dystopian drama Snowpiercer and USA Network's YA thriller Dare Me. Her upcoming feature films include Darren, Like a House On Fire and and the action thriller Becky opposite Kevin James.

Samra Habib is a journalist, photographer and activist based in Toronto. CBC Books named Habib a writer to watch in 2019We Have Always Been Here is her first book.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson, defended by Kaniehtiio Horn

Kaniehtiio Horn is defending Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Son of a Trickster is a novel about Jared, a compassionate 16-year-old, maker of famous weed cookies, the caretaker of his elderly neighbours, the son of an unreliable father and unhinged, though loving in her way, mother. As Jared ably cares for those around him, in between getting black-out drunk, he shrugs off the magical and strange happenings that follow him around. 

Son of a Trickster was on the shortlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize. It is being adapted into a TV series set to premiere on CBC in 2020

Kaniehtiio Horn is a Canadian actor from Kahnawake, the Mohawk reserve outside of Montreal. She stars as Mari in the National Geographic series Barkskins, based on the 2016 bestselling novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, and currently appears in the critically acclaimed comedy series Letterkenny. She is also the host of the podcast Coffee with my Ma, sharing the adventures and experiences of her activist mother.

Eden Robinson is an award-winning author from Kitamaat, B.C. She is also the author of the novels Monkey Beach and Trickster DriftSon of a Trickster and Trickster Drift are the first two books of a planned Trickster trilogy.

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle, defended by George Canyon

George Canyon is defending From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Jesse Thistle is a Métis-Cree academic specializing in Indigenous homelessness, addiction and inter-generational trauma. For Thistle, these issues are more than just subjects on the page. After a difficult childhood, Thistle spent much of his early adulthood struggling with addiction while living on the streets of Toronto. His memoir, From the Ashes, details how his issues with abandonment and addiction led to homelessness, incarceration and his eventual redemption through higher education. 

George Canyon is one of Canada's biggest country music stars. He has won countless accolades and awards, including Juno Awards, CCMA Awards and ECMA Awards. He has been inducted into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame, recorded 12 albums and was recently presented a certified platinum award for his debut album One Good Friend. He is also a humanitarian, strong supporter of the military and the national spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada.

Jesse Thistle is an assistant professor at York University and was a recipient of the Governor General's Academic Medal in 2016. From the Ashes is his first book.

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