The Canadian Book Challenge 6

I was hoping to find a Canadian Literature Challenge. These days I’m very interested in literature written in English outside of the UK and the US. The Canadian Book Challenge seemed just the thing I was looking for. I came across the challenge on Gavin’s blog Page 247.

The host is John Mutford from The Book Mine Set. His blog is dedicated to Canadian literature. If you are interested here’s the sign up post with all the details you need to know. In theory the idea is to read 13 books. It sounds like a lot but interpreting what John writes I would say it doesn’t seem as if you must reach that number. Aim for it, if you read less, it’s not the end of the world, if you read more, all the better.

I have a lot of Canadian literature on my book piles and have read quite a few authors in the past. Authors writing in English and in French. I asked and if you’d like to join, you can choose books written in English or French as long as the author or the topic is Canadian.

I know that I usually do not stick to my book lists but I still keep on making them. Possible choices for this challenge are

A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart. Urquhart isn’t an easy writer but she is a fascinating one who writes beautifully.

Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle. Atwood is another immensely fascinating author I have meant to return to. I loved Cat’s Eye and Surfacing and some of her short stories.

The Birth House by Amy McKay. I haven’t read this author yet but everyone who read this novel was impressed.

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence is a book I discovered not too long ago on Danielle’s blog (A Work in Progress). It sounded like another Canadian must-read.

I would like to read the one or the other novel by Nancy Huston and some other Canadian authors writing in French.  Since I recently discovered Louise Penny’s Canadian crime series, I’ll certainly read one of those as well.

Are you joining? Do you have any Canadian literature suggestions?

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36 thoughts on “The Canadian Book Challenge 6

    • Thanks, stu, I noticed after having posted this that I mention only women. Not a bad thing per se but I couldn’t come up with one name of a male writer.

  1. I’m really tempted to join in as well even though I told myself I’d take a little break from reading challenges. Still, I have two more books by Canadian Ethel Wilson on my reading pile and I want to read more North American authors in general, so I am already going to be reading books that would work well. You have a good line up. I loved Ami McKay’s book and she has a new one out now that I want to read. I *loved* the Laurence book and it is still one of my favorite reads, though Hagar Shipley is truly one of the more cantankerous characters I’ve ever come across in literature. I’d definitely like to try Jane Urquhart. Oh and will ditto Stu, Ondaatje is a marvelous writer (loved The English Patient). Hmm. Now I have almost talked myself into this–may have to think about who else I would want to read. Susanna Kearlsey is Canadian though her books are more often set in England. Anne Marie MacDonald is good. I also read Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams some time ago and recall really liking it–it’s set in New Foundland. I was also impressed by Clara Callan by Richard Wright–it won the Giller Prize. I wonder if this is a year long challenge? I’ll have to check it out!

    • I think that some of the authors I think of as North American are actually Canadian. Now that you mention her, I remembered I’ve read Anne Marie MacDonald. Very interesting. I did like the English Patient as well but forgot that Ondaatje is Canadian.
      I’m very curious about Hagar Shipley. The way you wrote about the book made it soun d quite fascinating.
      I’m also interested in reading a book by Ethel Wilson. Your review was so tempting.
      I hope John won’t mind that I will probably not manage a full 13. I should ask him for a suggestion of a Canadian war themed book other than The Stone Carvers. I’m sure there are many.

      • It would be interesting to read about the war from a Canadian perspective–I’ve not done so that I can think of. I am sure there must be books out there. I have just started Hetty Dorval by Ethel Wilson-I do like her writing style–and have another lined up for after this one. I took a peek at John’s post and it sounds like you can read as many or as few books as you’d like/can.

        • Yes, that’s how I interpreted it as well. the aim is 13 but it’s not that importnat as long as you enjoy participating.
          I’m looking forward to your reviews. I’ll then maybe pick the one you liked best.

    • I’m not too tempted by The Handmaid’s Tale, I must admit although many people told me it was truly good. Now that we such a wave of dystopian novesl it doesn’t seem so surprising anymore but when she wrote it, it was really a new thought.

  2. Lot of great looking novels on your list Caroline. I think that Atwood is the only Canadian author that I have read. I have not read “Lady Oracle” but I have read “Cat’s Eye” and “Surfacing” I thought that “Surfacing” was one of the great novels of the Twentieth Century.

    • You are the first person who has read “Surfacing” as well. Most people I met have read many of her other novels, this one always seems somewhat neglected. I thought it was extremely powerful and would even like to read it again.

    • Thanks for spreading the word, Gavin, I wouldn’t have known about it.
      Ad thanks for the recommendations. I haven’t read any of them but Elizabeth Hay does ring a bell.

  3. Anne Hebert, a French Canadian author who I think is pretty amazing. Her poetry is fantastic, too. Other than that, I’m a fan of Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields. No more challenges for me this year, though, as I’m already committed to enough, but it is always interesting to see other people’s recommendations.

    • Yes, indeed, Anne Hébert is an mazing writer but I do not think I’ve ever read any of her poetry. Thanks for suggesting it.
      I will step back from any activity which requires having finished a book on a set date – other than my own readalong – but this was the challenge I was sort of hoping for. Together with the Australian it gives a nice idea of how vast literature in English is.
      I also forgot that Carol Shields is Canadian. Thanks for reminding me of her.

  4. I read Surfacing in college and was blown away – so raw and well done.

    The Canadian author I recommend is Mary Lawson. I think she is marvelous but I don’t hear much about her from other bloggers. My mother’s favorite is Crow Lake and mine is The Other Side of the Bridge. I highly recommend her.

  5. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Canadian writer, except for Nancy Huston but I don’t know if she’s Canadian or French after all these years here. (Plus she writes in French)

    I bought a Louise Penny after your recent review.

    • You could join, then. :) I hope you will like it.
      I still think of Nancy Huston as a Canadian writer. The problem with the books I have by her is that many have not been translated or I can’t find the translations.

  6. This is an interesting challenge, Caroline! Thanks for writing about it! Your reading choices are wonderful! I love the title and the cover of ‘A Map of Glass’. I haven’t read many Canadian authors. The only ones I can remember are Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, some of whose short stories I have read and David Gilmour (of ‘The Film Club’ fame :)) I have a book called ‘Summer of my amazing luck’ by Miriam Toews, which I want to read sometime. It looks like a road-novel but in which the main characters are women. I haven’t read a road-novel with the main characters being women before. I think it will be interesting and fun to read it.

    Hope you have fun at the Canadian reading challenge!

    • It really is an interesting challanege and I’m already so glad I wrote this post. The comments make me realize that I have even more Canadian writers on my shelves than I thought. Miriam Toews for example. I’ve got her “Complicated Kindness”.
      It’s a yearlong challlenge you can join whenever you like or read a Canadian book. :)
      Urquhart is a special writer. She writes very complex but beautiful novels.

      • Now that you have mentioned it, I want to read Miriam Toews’ ‘Complicated Kindness’ too :) I think it won the Governor General’s Award. I liked what you said about the challenge – that I can join whenever I read a Canadian book :) I think I will do that.

        • John mentions that some people sign up just before the challenge ends. That makes it very pressure free.
          I’m looking forward to the one or the other of your Toews reviews. :)

  7. Glad to have you on board. As for male Canadian authors, I’d second the recommendations for Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version and Wayne Johnston’s Colony of Unrequited Dreams, both recommended above. I’d probably throw Alistair Macleod’s No Great Mishief, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and Michael Crummey’s Galore in there as well. Robertson Davies also seems to have his fair share of fans.

    For war books, I’d probably suggest Timothy Findley’s The Wars and Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road. If you’re looking at other conflicts besides the world wars, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway is quite good. And if you’re not simply looking for fiction, Vimy by Pierre Berton.

    • Thanks you so much for your suggestions. It was interesting to see that most people came up with female authors. I’ll be looking into the ones you suggest and especially those with a war theme.
      I don’t think I’ll include non-fiction in the readalong but I’m interested myself. Thanks again.
      I’m looking fiward ti get started.

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