Thursday, 6 February 2014

What is Canada? The Canadian Challenge

A few years ago, upon getting an office job, I began to listen to the CBC—more accurately Jian Gohmeshi’s program, Q. Canada Reads caught my attention with the debate over five non-fiction novels: Something Fierce (Carmen Aguirre), Prisoner of Tehran (Marina Nemat), The Game (Ken Dryden), On a Cold Rode (David Bidini) and The Tiger (John Vaillant). At the time, I was too late to read all of the novels before the debate concluded announcing Something Fierce the winner. However, upon going to my favourite store (Chapters), I  picked up both Prisoner of Tehran and Something Fierce. While I have yet to read the last three on the top five of 2012, I couldn’t help being captivated by both of these stories. This was the beginning of my search for finding Canada in Canadian novels.
So, what is Canada?  I don’t know how to answer the question, and yet here I sit—born and raised in Canada. There are two words that come to mind when I hear the word Canada: multicultural and hockey. I realize that there are also the typical: beaver, igloos, maple leaf, syrup and any other icon that you can potentially find on one of our monetary coins, but those are not what I mean. I mean, when you walk down the streets of a Canadian city and you say wow this is Canada – what is “this”. Like many things, I turn to novels to teach me about my own culture. Let’s face it, if we were American you could easily look at Hemmingway, Twain, Kerouac, Thompson and many more, and you can find American culture. It’s time I begin my Canadian search, and although I took Canadian Lit in school, the fact is who, other than Atwood, Munro and Ondaatje, are iconic Canadian authors that comes to mind? While I do not want to keep referring to Canada Reads—it is where I have begun this search, and where I will begin my initial Canadian List. I will alternate between my Canadian search and my initial BBC challenge list, to find the Canadian culture. I also did not include the Canadian novels on the BBC list on this list... What I ask from you is – what is your favourite Canadian Author and book? I am making no promises to get through this list quickly; it may take my whole life! I will most likely focus on the novels that I own and the ones on the upcoming Canada Reads Debate as I enjoy listening to this program. But here is the list that I have created:

1.     The Game by Ken Dryden
2.     On a Cold Rode by David Bidini
3.     The Tiger by John Vaillant
4.     Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
5.     Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat
6.     Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
7.     The Age of Hope by David Bergen
8.     Away by Jane Urquhart
9.     Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan
10.   February by Lisa Moore
11.   Accusation by Catherine Bush
12.   Afterlands by Steven Heighton
13.   Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
14.   Annabel by Kathleen Winter
15.   The Blue Light Project by Timothy Taylor
16.   The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
17.   Cockroach by Rawi Hage
18.   The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
19.   Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien
20.   Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
21.   Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
22.   Galore by Michael Crummey
23.   Going Down Swinging by Billie Livingston
24.   The Good Body by Bill Gaston
25.   Half Blood Blues by Esi Eduyagan
26.   Happiness Economics by Shari Lapena
27.   Headhunter by Timothy Findley
28.   The Headmster’s Wager by Vincent Lam
29.   Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
30.   The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
31.   Matadora by Elizabeth Ruth
32.   Monoceros by Suzette Mayr
33.   Natural Order by Brian Francis
34.   October 1970 by Louis Hamelin
35.   The Orenda by  Joseph Boyden
36.   Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese
37.   The Republic of Nothing by Lesley Choyce
38.   The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel
39.   Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor
40.   The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
41.   Stunt by Claudia Dey
42.   Sub Rosa by Amber Dawn
43.   A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
44.   Swarm by Lauren Carter
45.   Sweetness in the Belly by Camila Gibb
46.   Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
47.   Truth & Bright Water by Thomas King
48.   What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin
49.   Y by Marjorie Celona
50.   The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
51.   The  Headmasters Wager by Vincent Lam
52.   Going Home Again by Dennis Bock
53.   Hellgoing Lynn Coady
54.   Cataract City by Craig Davidson
55.   Caught by Lisa Moore
56.   The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta
57.   419 Will Ferguson
58.   The Sentimentalist by Johanna Skibsrud
59.   The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre
60.   Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay
61.   The Time in Between by David Bergen
62.   Runaway by Alice Munro
63.   The In Between World of Vikram Lall by  M. G. Vassanji
64.   The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke
65.   Mercy Among Children by David Adams Richards
66.   A Good House by Bonnie Burnard
67.   The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
68.   Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler
69.   Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
70.   The Book of Secrets
71.  The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
72.   A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
73.   The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
74.   Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald
75.   The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy
76.   The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
77.   Cabbagetown by Hugh Garner
78.   What the Dog saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
79.   No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
80.   Six Seconds by Rick Mofina
81.   Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
82.   Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
83.   The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
84.   The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
85.   Love and the Mess We’re In by Stephen Arche
86.   The Canterbury Trial by Angie Abdou
87.   The Darling of Kandahar by Felicia Mihali
88.   The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #8) by Louise Penny
89.   One Good Hustle by Billie Livingston
90.   The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
91.   Fall from Grace by Wayne Arthurson
92.   Far to Go by Alison Pick
93.   Cool Water by Dianne Warren
94.   The Amazing Absorbing Boy by Rabindranath Maharaj
95.   Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
96.   The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon
97.   The Cure For Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
98.   Darwin’s Paradox by Nina Munteanu
99.   Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjiner Basran
100. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
101. Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O Mitchell
102. De Niro’s Game by Rawi Hage
103. Obasan by Joy Kogawa
104.The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak
105.The Englishman’s Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe
106. How to make Love To A Negro by Danny Laferriere
107.  Stolen by Annette LaPointe
108.  Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson
109.  Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
110. Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
111. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
112. Bow Grip by Ivan E. Coyote
113. The Glass Boys by Nicole Lundrigan
114. The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason
115. Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
116. Ragged Island by Don Hannah
117. The Bay of Love and Sorrows by David Adams Richards
118. No Great Mischief by Alistaif MacLeod
119. The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy
120. As for Me and My House
121. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

Complete: 19
All that I ask of you is: If you don’t see your favourite Canadian Novel on this list, please tell me and I will be sure to add it!

Now I shall make my journey to figure out What is Canada!