The Next Chapter

The novel that transports Sharon Butala home to rural Saskatchewan

Dianne Warren's Cool Water is Sharon Butala's pick for the book that defines her part of Canada.
In Where I Live Now, Sharon Butala shares her journey of moving to the city and leaving behind the rural home she had shared with her late husband. (Neil Speers/Simon & Schuster)

What book best represents the part of Canada you are from? That's the question The Next Chapter is asking asking writers across the country to commemorate Canada 150.

Sharon Butala has lived most of her life on a ranch in Saskatchewan and her latest book, Where I Live Now, is a memoir about her experience grappling with her husband's unexpected death. She chose Cool Water by Dianne Warren, a novel that takes place in a fictional Saskatchewan town, as her Canada 150 selection.

Cool Water won the 2010 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. (HarperCollins)

She understands that land perfectly. She was raised in it. She approaches it with this sense of humour and she expresses the things about the people who live there that are the most characteristic and the most annoying to people who don't know it. For example, the extreme, almost comic taciturnity of the older generation. And the primacy of everybody who lived there of the land, even though they're maybe not talking about it or doing anything about it, but the land is life itself there. I think I also really like her obvious affection for her characters — there aren't any really bad people in that novel. They're just kind of normally flawed. It's just this wonderful voice that she tells her story in that I love.

Sharon Butala's comments have been edited and condensed.