As a Canadian author and book reviewer, this is my favorite time of year. About a month from now, the Great Canadian Book Debate will be back! The Canada Reads shortlist has already come out, and in a month they will pick the final winner.
But who exactly are the authors on the shortlist? Let’s take a dive into the people who wrote some of the best books this year.
Author of Bad Cree
Jessica Johns is a fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writer and member of the Sucker Creek First Nation in northern Alberta. She describes herself as” a queer nehiyaw aunty with English-Irish ancestry”.
The inspiration for her novel Bad Cree comes jointly from her ancestry and something one of her professors at the University of British Columbia said. The creative writing teacher told the class to never write about dreams.
Dreams, however, are an important part of Cree culture, and feature prominently in the book. Her creative writing teacher was clearly wrong, since her book might be a Canada Reads winner!
Bad Cree will be defended by Dallas Soonias in the debate.
Christina Wong & Daniel Innes
Author of Denison Avenue
Christina Wong is not only a Canadian writer, but also a playwright and artist. Her mediums include sound art, audio documentaries, and photography. With an artistic background it’s no surprise that her book Denison Avenue had to be a collaboration with visual artist Daniel Innes.
Her inspiration for the book comes from her connection to Toronto’s Chinatown-Kensington Market. “My parents and my grandparents, our family, we would just go there on Sundays and go for dim sum and go grocery shopping. So it’s a place that’s like home for me,” she says.
Denison Avenue will be defended by Naheed Nenshi in the debate.
Author of Meet Me At The Lake
Carley Fortune is a newer Canadian writer from Toronto who published her first book Every Summer After as recently as 2022. The novel is set in Barry’s Bay, a small town in rural Ontario where she spent much of her childhood.
Now her new novel Meet Me At The Lake will be debated in Canada Reads!
Fortune is an award-winning journalist and has contributed and edited for Refinery 29, The Globe and Mail, and more.
Meet Me At The Lake will be defended by Mirian Njoh in the debate.
Author of Shut Up You’re Pretty
Téa Mutonji is a Canadian writer and poet who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She and her family moved to the Scarborough area of Toronto. She went on to study media studies and creative writing at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Shut Up Your Pretty, which was published in 2019, draws from much of Mutonji’s experiences.
Shut Up Your Pretty will be defended by Kudakwashe Rutendo in the debate.
Author of The Future
Having studied philosophy at university, Catherine Leroux is a writer, editor, journalist, and translator from Montreal, Quebec who usually writes in French. Her novel The Future (L’avenir) was translated by Susan Ouriou. Themes of motherhood feature prominently in her book, from which she draws on her lived experiences.
The Future will be defend by Heather O’Neill in the debate.