The picks for this year's Canada Reads competition have been announced. They are Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott, Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, and Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.
For those unfamiliar with the annual CBC Radio competition, five prominent Canadians pick five Canadian books - very often novels, though occasionally poetry or short story collections - they believe Canada should read. Then, over the course of a working week of radio and with the help of host Jian Ghomeshi, they eliminate them one by one until only one remains.
Looking at the list, I think Canadians are already reading a lot of these. The list this year features a Giller nominee, a Governor General's Award winner, and an Oprah Book Club pick. None of the books were published before 1991, and two were published in 2008.
I love Cadence Weapon, but his might be the most bizarre choice. Coupland's Generation X was not only part of the zeitgeist, but it actually named a generation.
Canada Reads has brought some really great books a lot of attention that they wouldn't have got otherwise. A book like Hubert Aquin's The Next Episode could have forgotten by many if it weren't for the competition, and Paul Quarrington's awesome King Leary was out of print before Dave Bidini chose it.
That consideration doesn't always matter, though. Last year, Lawrence Hill's Book of Negroes won, despite selling quite well prior to the competition and having won several awards.
It'll be worth watching regardless - heated arguments about books are always a joy to hear. I'll try to have some thoughts up on the individual picks over the holidays.