Every March, the CBC hosts a one week discussion surrounding the question "what is one book that all Canadians should read?" (I know, just when you think Canadians can't get any more awesome, you find out we have literary debates on national television.) The longlist for this year's event, taking place from March 27 to 30, was announced this past week. Here are the contenders:
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can't be saved, or saving herself.
even this page is white by Vivek Shraya
Vivek's debut collection of poetry is a bold, timely, and personal interrogation of skin - its origins, functions, and limitations.
Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Alexis's contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness.
I Am Woman by Lee Maracle
One of the foremost Native writers in North America, Lee Maracle links her First Nations heritage with feminism in this visionary book.
Knucklehead by Matt Lennox
Knucklehead is a riveting, powerful crime novel about fathers and sons, the limits of friendship, and the terrible, necessary choices we make.
Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji
A taut, ingenuous, and dynamic novel about a future where eternal life is possible, and identities can be chosen.
One Hour in Paris by Karyn L. Freedman
One Hour in Paris weaves together Freedman's personal experience with the latest philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights into what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized.
Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing.
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, a thriller fuelled by an earthshaking mystery - and a fight to control a gargantuan power.
The Break by Katherena Vermette
A powerful intergenerational family saga, through various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about the lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End.
The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra
An inspiring tale of taking risks and following one's dreams, of process and determination, and looking back on one's endeavours - be they successes or colossal defeats - with new appreciation and meaning.
The Just City by Jo Watson
Created as an experiment, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future - all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.
The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
One of Canada's most passionate environmental and human rights activists addresses the global threat of climate change from the intimate perspective of her own Arctic childhood.
Today I Learned It Was You by Edward Riche
Hilariously sending up the drama and dysfunction of local politics, overzealous rights activists, and perils of contemporary social media, Today I Learned It Was You, is another bitingly brilliant comic novel from one of Canada's funniest and most astute literary talents.
Waiting For First Light by Roméo Dallaire
In this piercing memoir, the retired general, former senator, best-selling author, and one of the world's leading humanitarians delves deep into his life since the Rwandan genocide.
Five celebrity panellists will choose a book from this list to defend and the short list will be announced on January 31, 2017. Ali Hassan, from CBC's Laugh Out Loud, will be the new host. Last year's winner was The Illegal by Lawrence Hill and other past winners include Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes, Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness, and Kim Thuy's Ru.
In the past few years the competition has had a theme for the books chosen. Last year's theme was "Starting Over," and past themes were "Turf Wars" (Canada's major geographic regions), "A Novel to Change Our Nation," and "One Book to Break Barriers." Looking at the longlist, I'm not sure if there is a theme or what one could possible be. And given that I have read so few of the books, I'm looking forward to diving into this year's competition.