Meet the Canada Reads 2020 contenders
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:
- 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
The panellists made their first cases for the books they chose to defend on CBC Radio's q.
Get to know the Canada Reads 2020 contenders below.
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.
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.
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.
- Cory Doctorow on Radicalized, the problem with superheroes and writing speculative fiction in a jaded world
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.
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.
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.
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 Drift. Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift are the first two books of a planned Trickster trilogy.
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.
- How Jesse Thistle survived addiction, homelessness and incarceration — and became a bestselling author
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.