Kirt sends his apologies as our recording software is having some issues and so we could not record a special podcast for this post. He is busy trapped in a small room muttering obscenities at a computer trying to get our latest podcast out.
Kirt and I started Write Reads in 2012 after the loss of the bookstore where we worked. We didn’t start it as a CanLit podcast, but we quickly decided Canada should be its focus. There are many reasons we made that decision, but when it boils right down to it, we love Canadian authors and wanted an excuse to chat more about them. Wish it were more interesting than that. Sorry. Yes, I’m stealing Laura’s “Canadian Sorry” joke from her post. Sorry.
As I read BBI, I am so happy to be among so many of my favourite Canadian book bloggers, and I love seeing that, for many people, there is a pretty amazing sense of pride about the art their country creates. I couldn’t be happier with how many passionate Canadian book bloggers we have become friends with, or with how many Canadian authors we have come to know and love through our podcast, especially some of the lesser known ones. I have to list some of those so more people will know about them. See? There’s that pride I was talking about. Sean Dixon (The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal ), Nicole Lundrigan (The Widow Tree), Laurence Miall (Blind Spot), Amanda Leduc (The Miracles of Ordinary Men)
But, as usual, I digress. We’re here to read about why I love Canadian fiction. I’ve thought about this question a lot over the years, and it was actually in writing this piece for BBI that I realized something quite important to me.
There is some fiction we read because it helps us find a path to know ourselves better. The fiction that helps us along the journey of self-discovery, and provides us with a sense of “home” within ourselves. I was raised by two immigrants, and I know that books about the immigrant experience in Canada helped them to, as Cameron Bailey expressed it in this year’s Canada Reads, be okay with feeling constantly in between, constantly both. The immigrant experience of finding your place can be a very rough one, and I feel a little silly even writing this, but it can be a smidge tough to find your place as the child of immigrants. Your parents are wanting you to maintain their culture, but you would like to explore the culture of the place where you were born. For me, as a first generation Canadian, it was not really the stories of immigration that helped me find my place in the world, it was the stories that expressed a history of the Canadian culture, a culture whose existence and definition even Canadians doubt exists. Now, for some reason, I had never really put my love of CanLit and my being a first generation Canadian in the same sentence, but if you bear with me on my first attempt to express this, I hope it makes sense.
My dad is Italian and my mom is Costa Rican. I was raised with two very strong cultural influences, by two very strong personality types. Finding my sense of self, and how I fit into their cultures and the Canadian one, is a meandering, confusing, and ultimately fabulous path that I would not enjoy nearly as much without my books. I have spent most of my life in Canada in the Prairies. While I love Canuck fiction about all areas of the world, and about all topics, the books and authors that have really changed my life are the ones who write about the Prairies.The ones that showed me that where I live has a culture and a history, and most importantly, a beautiful and significant natural environment: the mountains, the fields of wheat, the friendly people, and that impossibly beautiful, huge prairie sky. W.O. Mitchell, Margaret Laurence, Thomas King, and so many others brought me to the realization that I had a place in the world, a place that could be somehow both outside and within my other cultural backgrounds. A prairie of my very own.
Thank you for joining us today, Tania and Kirt ! Remember to check out their blog and podcast at Write Reads and leave a comment or question.