Some exceptionally paraphrastic and subjective reactions to the Canada Reads 2016 shortlisted books after the first day of debate (maybe I’ll share more expansive thoughts in days to come):
Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter – I haven’t finished reading it yet, but my initial impression is very positive in a sort of David-Adams-Richards-depressive way.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg – This was the first of the five titles I read and I found myself underwhelmed. I found it to be fairly unenthralling, not terribly engaging, and disappointing considering the positive things I’d heard.
Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz – The second book I read and I was enthralled. I totally felt it couldn’t be beaten, until
The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami – This is an engaging, enthralling, poetic, beautiful, bitter-sweet, realistic, lovely novel. The Hero’s Walk is a novel of Classic quality that will be read for generations, whatever happens on Canada Reads.
The Illegal by Laurence Hill – For most of the time I was reading The Illegal I felt like I was reading a somewhat sophisticated version of one of Heinlein’s “Juvenile” science fiction novels. I felt like Laurence Hill was wielding a sledge hammer of didactic message and a clumsy tissue of coincidence. Seriously: everyone is startlingly in the right place at the right time. Are there only ten people in this imaginary land?
In the end, leaving Minister Without Portfolio out of the discussion as it has been left out of the discussion, The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami is the finest novel on the Canada Reads 2016 short list, whatever its relation to the theme of “Starting Over” is seen to be.