Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a new challenge, in relation to nothing, a bore to most

Most people who know me know that I really enjoy reading Canadian books. My American friends are confused, because outside of Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, they didn't know there are Canadian authors*. My Canadian friends are confused, because having been forced to read The Stone Angel in high school, they're traumatized by Canadian literature. But I liked The Stone Angel, and I like Margaret Laurence in general. And recently while I was re-reading The Diviners, I started thinking about the Governor General's literary award for fiction (which The Diviners won back in '74), and I started to play with the idea of reading all of the winners of the GG award - going back to the first in 1936. Why? I don't know. It's hard to decide on what to read next.


I'm aware that this new challenge will take years, and it will be hard to find some of these books. But it will be fun to try, so why not. Occasionally it will be boring and/or terrible.

I've read a few already, and I probably won't re-read them first this, so off the list are:

Gabrielle Roy, The Tin Flute (1947)
Mordechai Richler, St Urbain's Horseman (1971)
Robertson Davies, The Manticore (1972)
Margaret Laurence's The Diviners (1974)
Timothy Findley, The Wars (1977)
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) - though I might re-read this one
Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient (1992)
Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (1993)
Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter (1997)
Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost (2000)
Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness (2004)
Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero (2007)

Full list of winners here

So, 12 down and 60 to go. Or, 59.5. Right now I'm reading Peter Behrens' The Law of Dreams (2006).


I don't know that I plan on reviewing or talking about these books, because having completed a degree in literature, I never really want to write about it in detail again. Well, maybe eventually, but not right now. For now, let this just be a checklist.

* - As an amusing nothing, I had a professor in one of my CanLit classes in university once say that to qualify to be a Canadian author all you have to do is write on a napkin while flying over the country.

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