Canada Reads

Roger Mooking and Devery Jacobs go head-to-head in the Canada Reads 2021 finale

On the final day of Canada Reads 2021, Roger Mooking and Devery Jacobs make their final arguments over why their chosen book is the "one book to transport us."

Canada Reads 2021: Finale Highlight

Canada Reads

5 months ago
Devery Jacobs and Roger Mooking face off on the final day of the battle of the books. 1:48

On the final day of Canada Reads 2021, two books were left in contention as chef and TV personality Roger Mooking and actor and filmmaker Devery Jacobs faced off over why their book should win this year's battle of the books.

Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi, a debut novel which tells the interwoven stories of three Nigerian women, Kambirinachi and her twin daughters Taiye and Kehinde, who are torn apart by a traumatic experience.

Jacobs is championing Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, a coming-of-age novel about a two-spirit person named Jonny trying to put his life back together following the death of his stepfather.

Jacobs argued that Jonny Appleseed is a "full-body experience." She explained that the main character takes readers by the hand and guides them on a journey of empathy and empowerment. 

Mooking countered that Butter Honey Pig Bread was a transcendental experience because of how the novel incorporated community and kinship as characters.

Below is a condensed version of their discussion. Watch the video above for their full debate.

Devery Jacobs: "As I mentioned, this is a full-body book. This is a full-body experience in reading Jonny Appleseed and I very much do feel that spirit of Jonny existing and really holding my hand through this process in bringing this story to the masses and the voices of my community.

"I associate it as an actor when I'll become a character. I stop playing the character and the character starts playing me and I really do feel like Joshua had that experience when writing Jonny Appleseed . He even told me that when he teaches classes — he's working toward his PhD — he tells his students to sleep with their characters.

'Jonny is this spirit and his energy exists,' and that's why he is real within this world and not just a character within the pages- Devery Jacobs

"And he slept with Jonny and he really got into his body and that physical experience and what that means and so, I think, reading this book I really associated that with that, where I'm like, 'Jonny is real. Jonny is this spirit and his energy exists' and that's why he is real within this world and not just a character within the pages."

Canada Reads host Ali Hassan"Roger, let me get your response to what you've been hearing in this round."

Roger Mooking: "I don't know. It's interesting that Devery says Jonny Appleseed is a full-body experience. I'll argue that Butter Honey Pig Bread is not only a full-body experience, but it transcends the body experience because it's about the community and the kin.

"So when you're addressing characters, I notice there was a very pointed reference about the twins. But the characters in this book are also Kambirinachi, critical and pointed.

"Another character I think is the ghost character that hovers over the entire book are the kin. And so this kin is this nebulous concept of the community.

I'll argue that Butter Honey Pig Bread is not only a full-body experience, but it transcends the body experience because it's about the community and the kin.- Roger Mooking

"Although a full-body experience is cool, I want a transcendental experience, something that makes me think of my place in the world and what that is like."

The Canada Reads 2021 champions and their chosen books are:

Here's how you can tune into Canada Reads 2021:

ON RADIO: Canada Reads will air on CBC Listen at 11:05 a.m. ET, CST, MT, PT at 1:05 p.m. in AT, and at 1:35 p.m. in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

ON TV: CBC TV will broadcast Canada Reads at 1 p.m. ET, CST, MT, PT; at 2 p.m. in AT; and at 2:30 p.m. in Newfoundland and Labrador.

PODCAST: New episodes of Canada Reads will be posted daily on CBC Listen. You can also download them wherever you get your podcasts.

ONLINE: CBC Books will livestream the debates at 11 a.m. ET on CBCBooks.caYouTubeFacebook and Gem. The debates will be available to replay online each day. The livestreams on YouTube and Facebook will be available to watch outside Canada.

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