Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Canadian Reading Project

Oh, Canada! Our home and native land...

There are three reading projects that I have in mind and this is one of them. As a fellow Canadian, we seem to be more renowned for our delicious maple syrup, hockey and crack smoking mayor of Toronto as opposed to being recognized as a country that produces great literature. Although we do have several critically acclaimed authors such as Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler and Michael Ondaatje representing us (to name a few), I feel that we are lacking in the literary talent department. I have yet to come across anything resembling the Great Canadian Novel and a lot of the so-called "classics" many students like myself have been forced to read during middle-school or high-school proved to be unworthy of their stature. Don't even mention As for Me and my House by Sinclair Ross or The Temptations of Big Bear by Rudy Wiebe--both of these novels were terrible. Where are the Woolfs, Hemingways, Bellows, Salingers, Steinbecks or Greenes hiding of our great nation? Let's face it, the majority of Canadian literature is pitiful but there must exist some hidden gems. I plan to use this reading challenge as a way to discover some great pieces of literature that have been forgotten or overlooked. Some of the questions I want to address while reading these works is what exactly constitutes Canadian national identity and how has it changed over the years? What specific characteristics or literary tropes distinguish Canadian literature from other countries? What is the role of multiculturalism, immigration and dislocation? Should Canadian authors who write in different genres or don't base their stories on Canadian culture be represented?

I have compiled a list (subject to change) and considering the daunting task, there is no time limit for me to finish this challenge. If you have any suggestions or want to recommend a Canadian literary work that is not on this list, please feel free to do so in the comments sections.

Novels read so far: 3

  1. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
  2. Cockroach by Rawi Hage  
  3. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje 
  4. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  5. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
  6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 
  7. The Clockmaker: the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slickville by Thomas Chandler Haliburton 
  8. Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock 
  9. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
  10. Who do you think you are? by Alice Munro 
  11. Such is My Beloved by Morley Callaghan 
  12. The Rebel Angels (Cornish Trilogy #1) by Robertson Davies 
  13. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence 
  14. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence 
  15. Fugitive Pieces of Anne Michaels
  16. Barometer Rising by High MacLennan 
  17. The Watch that Ends the Night by Hugh MacLennan 
  18. Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan 
  19. The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy 
  20. The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler 
  21. Double Hook by Sheila Watson 
  22. Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt
  23. The Studhorse Man by Robert Kroetsch 
  24. Lives of Short Duration by David Adams Richards 
  25. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt 
  26. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen 
  27. Microserfs by Douglas Coupland 
  28. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood 
  29. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood 
  30. Surfacing my Margaret Atwood 
  31. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood 
  32. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  33. St. Urbain’s Horsemen by Mordecai Richler 
  34. Solomon Gursky was here by Mordecai Richler
  35. What We All Live For by Dionne Brand 
  36. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  37. Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay 
  38. River Thieves by Michael Crummey
  39. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore 
  40. Red Dog, Red Dog by Patrick Lane 
  41. February by Lisa Moore 
  42. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway 
  43. Woodsmen of the West by Martin Allerdale Grainger 
  44. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King 
  45. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan 
  46. A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe 
  47. The Englishman’s Boy by Guy Vanderhaeghe 
  48. The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald 
  49. The Wars by Timothy Findley 
  50. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  51. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden 
  52. Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden 
  53. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston 
  54. Louis Riel: A Comic Biography by Chester Brown 
  55. The Flying Troutsmans by Miriam Toews 
  56. How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired by Dany Laferriere 
  57. Banana Boys by Terry Woo
  58. Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway
  59. Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright 
  60. The Corrigan Women by M.T. Dohaney 
  61. Downhill Chance by Donna Morrisey 
  62. The Stonecarvers by Jane Urquhart 
  63. The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy 
  64. Ivor Johnson's Neighbours by Bruce Graham 
  65. 419 by Will Ferguson 
  66. Stone Diaries by Carol Shields 
  67. Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell 
  68. The Truth About Death and Dying by Rui Umezawa 
  69. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards (recommended by T)
  70. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill (recommended by T) 
Note: Several important works are not included because I have already read them: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Life of Pi, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Fifth Business, Handmaid's Tale, Who Has Seen the Wind, The Book of Negroes...


  1. Great list and super project. You have some really good titles there.

    May I suggest: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell;River Thieves by Michael Crummey; Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright; The Corrigan Women by M.T. Dohaney; Downhill Chance by Donna Morrisey; The Stonecarvers by Jane Urquhart; The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy; Ivor Johnson's Neighbours by Bruce Graham; 419 by Will Ferguson; Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler (I think it's his best). Something by Carol Shields?

  2. Thank you Debbie for the many recommendations! I shall add these to the list. I refrained from putting "Barney's Version" on the list because I watched the film version, which was fantastic.

    Hmmm...I seem to have forgotten about Carol Shields, how silly of me. I'll try Stone Diaries. Thanks again!

  3. This is such a great idea! I recently finished Alias Grace and I need more great Canadian lit in my life. A couple of my favourites that I would recommend are Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards, and Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill - both fantastic. Great blog btw!

  4. Hello T! Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate the kind words. I definitely need to read more Margaret Atwood.

    Thanks for those two recommendations, I will add them to the list. :)