Monday, May 11, 2015

Ten Canadian Classics to Grab When You’re Oot and Aboot, Eh with C.J from Ebookclassics

Today, following with out Canadian Book Bloggers event, please welcome C.J, who blogs at ebookclassics.

http://www.triptoes.com


As any Canadian reader and lover of our homegrown talent knows, you can’t quite put a finger on what exactly is Canadian literature (otherwise known as “CanLit”). The question has been mused and discussed to death, but remains as author M. G. Vassanji described as naively wandering into a wilderness whose landscape is forever changing and returning with the bewildered understanding that the essence you were trying to locate was merely an illusion.



Although I’m far from being an expert, here are ten of what are considered essential CanLit classics if you too would like to start exploring the vast wilderness of Canadian writing. Have fun!



Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908) - The tale of Anne Shirley, a little red-haired girl who is adopted by a middle-aged brother and sister in Prince Edward Island, has charmed generations of readers since publication. Anne’s genuine delight with the world and an exuberant positivity that wins the heart of her community makes it also difficult for the reader not to feel like everything is going to be okay for them too.



The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence (1964) – Readers have a love-hate relationship with The Stone Angel. In this story, we are caught up in the thoughts of ninety year-old Hagar Currie Shipley which is not pleasant since she’s an angry and bitter woman. Looking back at a life full of painful memories, Hagar realizes that she always let her pride get in the way and maybe now it’s too late for her to make amends.



Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (1970) – The first book in the Deptford Trilogy, the title is a reference to a person in a performance who is not directly involved in the scene, but whose sole purpose is to observe and comment on the action. In this case, Dunstan Ramsay writes a very long letter to the school headmaster where he teaches about how his life is intertwined with several other people and the mysterious forces at play that he may be influencing.



The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985) - A searing dystopian set in a totalitarian society and about a woman who belongs to a class of concubines who are kept by the elite ruling class for bearing children. Even though the book is considered standard reading in some high schools, at least in Canada, the book has been frequently challenged since publication for being too explicit.



Generation X by Douglas Coupland (1991) – The story is about three friends drifting through life and unable to find an outlet for their dreams, anger and boredom. The author is credited for creating the now widely-used term for anyone born between 1960 and 1980, and other acerbic vernacular like McJob, occupational slumming and clique maintenance. By articulating the mood of a generation, the book took on a life of its own as an influential guide for marketing and the media.



The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992) – Switching back and forth in time from the present to the flashbacks of the mysterious burned patient, the lives of four emotionally impaired strangers intersect at an Italian villa during World War II. The book won the Booker Prize and Canada’s Governor General Award in 1992. The character “Kip” comes from Michael Ondaatje's nickname at school, a reference to cooking oil stains on his exercise books which reminded other students of kipper fish canned in oil.



Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2001) – After surviving a shipwreck, a young Indian boy becomes stuck on a boat with a Bengal tiger and has deep discussions with the tiger about life and religion. The book won a number of awards, including the Man Booker Prize in 2002. President Barrack Obama wrote a letter to the author saying he read the book with his daughter and it was, “... an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.”



Hateship,Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro (2001) – A collection of short stories, including the author’s best known story, “The Bear Came over the Mountain”, which is about a husband’s devastation when his wife develops Alzheimer's disease and forgets they are married. Alice Munro has been highly recognized for her writing winning the Nobel Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 2013, the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 for her lifetime of work, and many other awards.



Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (2006) – The story moves between Northern Ontario and the battlegrounds of Europe during World War I following two Cree friends who leave their home to fight in the war. Niska, an Oji-Cree medicine woman, who is still deeply entrenched in Native culture and traditions, assists the sole survivor with the Three Day Road, sharing stories she hopes will either help him prepare for death or ultimately heal his soul.



The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (2007) – Also known under the title, Someone Knows My Name, this award-winning book was recently adapted as a TV series. The story depicts the life of Aminata, an African woman who is captured and forced into slavery in the United States. Lawrence Hill explained that even though he had historical reasons for using the word “Negro” in the title, he understood African-American readers could find it offensive and hence why we have two different titles.



Thank you for joining us today, C.J! Remember to check out 's blog, ebookclassics, and leave a comment or question.

13 comments :

  1. There are a few of my favorites on your list!

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    1. Which books have you read? I'm still working on this list, but have read 5 so far.

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  2. Hard to argue with this list! Great job.

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    1. Thank you! Tell me what you've read and enjoyed.

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  3. From just the title, I would not have expected to have read any of the books listed. BUT, I have! I've read three of them and I'm curious about the others. Thank you!!

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    1. Sometimes I'm even surprised to discover a book has been written by a Canadian author. For instance, I didn't know while I was reading Station Eleven that Emily St. John Mandel is Canadian.

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  4. I enjoy these books by Atwood and Martel. And I am listening right now to Station Eleven!

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    1. Ooh, I look forward to hearing what you think about the book.

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  5. Thank you so much for joining us C.J.!

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    1. Thanks for inviting me! It was a lot of fun coming up with the list.

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  6. Great list, C.J.! I have read seven of these. I don't know how you managed to come up with just 10 out of so many to choose from, but I definitely like your choices.

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    1. It was actually super-hard because there were so many great classics to choose from. I asked Laura from Reading In Bed for her thoughts on my final list.

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  7. Thinking the award winning and prolific Gabrielle Roy is missing and should def be included... plenty of classic choices :)

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