Meet the Canada Reads 2019 contenders

Yanic Truesdale, Lisa Ray, Joe Zee, Ziya Tong and Chuck Comeau are each championing the one book they think all of Canada should read. The debates take place March 25-28.

The debates take place March 25-28

What do a musician, a model, a science journalist, an actor and a fashion guru have in common? They are all panellists for Canada Reads 2019. Over four days in March, the five defenders will bring their diverse perspectives to this year's theme: One Book to Move You.

The contenders and their chosen books are:

Ali Hassan returns to host for a third year.

The debates take place March 25-28, 2019. 

They will air on CBC Radio One at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. AT/1:30 p.m. NT), on CBC at 3 p.m. (3:30 NT), live streamed online at CBC Books at 11 a.m. ET and will be available on the free CBC Gem streaming service.

If you're in Toronto, you can get tickets to be part of the live studio audience.

Get to know the Canada Reads 2019 contenders below. 

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung, defended by Chuck Comeau

Chuck Comeau is defending Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung. (CBC)

Chuck Comeau and his bandmates formed Simple Plan in 1999. The band has sold over 15 million albums and performed in more than 70 countries around the world. Early on, they started the Simple Plan Foundation, which raises money for charitable causes devoted to helping young people in need — from suicide prevention, to poverty, mental health awareness, musical education and drug addiction.

Homes is a memoir of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah's childhood in Iraq and Syria. Just before civil war broke out, the al Rabeeah family left Iraq for safety in Homs, Syria. Al Rabeeah was 10 years old when the violence began in his new home. He remembers attacks on his mosque and school, car bombings and firebombs. Now a high school student in Edmonton, Alta., al Rabeeah shares his story with writer Winnie Yeung in hopes it will bring greater understanding of Syria. 

Brother by David Chariandy, defended by Lisa Ray

Lisa Ray is defending Brother by David Chariandy. (CBC)

Lisa Ray is one of India's most successful cover models and an award-winning actress whose work spans multiple countries in film (the Oscar-nominated Water) television (Top Chef Canada), theatre (John Murrels's Taj) and modelling. Ray has become a high profile global advocate for cancer and stem cell awareness and was honoured with a Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada. Her Amazon Prime series Four Shots More Please is out now and her next film release is A. R. Rahman's 99 Songs

David Chariandy's Brother takes us inside the lives of the mixed heritage sons of Trinidadian immigrants. Rooted in Chariandy's own experience growing up as a person of colour in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the novel is a beautiful meditation on discrimination, agency, grief and the power of human relationships.

By Chance Alone by Max Eisen, defended by Ziya Tong

Ziya Tong is defending By Chance Alone by Max Eisen. (CBC)

Ziya Tong is best known as the longtime co-host of the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet, which she anchored for a decade from 2008-2018. Before Daily Planet, Tong hosted ZeD on CBC, earning a Gemini Award for viewer's choice for lifestyle host. In 2007, she hosted and produced Wired Science on PBS and The Leading Edge on The Knowledge Network. Her book, The Reality Bubblecomes out in May 2019.

When Max Eisen was 15 years old, he and his family were taken from their home to Auschwitz, where Eisen worked as a slave labourer. He survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Canada in 1949. Eisen has toured the world, educating people about the horrors he survived during the Second World War. He has recorded his memories in the deeply moving memoir By Chance Alone.

Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, translated by Rhonda Mullins, defended by Yanic Truesdale

Yanic Truesdale is defending Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, translated by Rhonda Mullins. (CBC)

Yanic Truesdale is a Montreal-born actor best known for his portrayal of Michel Gerard in the much loved television series Gilmore Girls. He began his television career in the long-running Canadian series He Shoots, He Scores and was nominated for a Gemini Award for his role on the Québécois sitcom Majeurs et vaccinésTruesdale lives part-time in Los Angeles and part-time in his native Montreal, where he opened a spin studio called Spin Énergie in 2011.

An English translation of the celebrated 2015 novel, La femme qui fuitSuzanne is Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's imagined account of the life of her estranged grandmother. A novel that blurs the lines between fact and fiction, Suzanne tells the story of more than eight decades of art and political history through its portrait of a conflicted woman and her granddaughter's search for understanding. Suzanne was translated by Rhonda Mullins.

The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong, defended by Joe Zee

Joe Zee is defending The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong. (CBC)

Joe Zee is a resident judge on the television show Stitched in Canada, has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and their annual Oscars pre-show, NBC's Today, CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show and was previously the special fashion correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. He's also known for the seven plus years he spent as creative director at Elle magazine. In 2018 he launched the original Netflix documentary series 7 Days Out, as its executive producer.

The Woo-Woo is a dark, witty and touching memoir by Vancouver-based writer Lindsay Wong, who gives an honest account of the impact of mental illness on her family. Wong delivers a raw and emotional look at whispered secrets, dysfunctional relationships — and how her grandmother, mother, aunt and even herself initially blamed the mythical "woo-woo," Chinese spirits that plague the living, for their mental health issues.

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