Fifteen books are on the Canada Reads longlist for 2019.
From thought-provoking fiction to inspiring memoirs, this year’s longlisted books speak to the theme: One Book To Move You. Spanning separations and reconciliations, wars of the past and present, personal histories and imagined futures, these titles will disturb and disrupt, inspire and incite, and move readers to feel, to think and to act.
The final five books and their champions will be revealed on Jan. 31, 2019.
The debates will take place March 25-28, 2019 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan. The debates will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV and online at CBC Books. Ticket information to attend the debates live will be announced on Jan. 31.
The Canada Reads 2019 longlist is:
Homes is a memoir of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah‘s childhood in Iraq and Syria. Just before civil war broke out, the al Rabeeah family left Iraq for safety in Homs, Syria. al Rabeeah was 10 years old when the violence began in his new home. He remembers attacks on his mosque and school, car bombings and firebombs. Now a high school student in Edmonton, Alta., al Rabeeah shares his story with writer Winnie Yeung in hopes it will bring greater understanding of Syria.
An English translation of the celebrated 2015 novel, La femme qui fuit, Suzanne is Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette‘s imagined account of the life of her estranged grandmother. A novel that blurs the lines between fact and fiction, Suzanne tells the story of more than eight decades of art and political history through its portrait of a conflicted woman and her granddaughter’s search for understanding. Barbeau-Lavalette is a filmmaker and writer who lives in Montreal, Que.
David Chariandy‘s Brother takes us inside the lives of the mixed heritage sons of Trinidadian immigrants. Rooted in Chariandy‘s own experience growing up as a person of colour in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the novel is a beautiful meditation on discrimination, agency, grief and the power of human relationships. Chariandy now lives in Vancouver, B.C.
When Max Eisen was 15 years old, he and his family were taken from their home to Auschwitz, where Eisen worked as a slave labourer. He survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Canada in 1949. Eisen has toured the world, educating people about the horrors he survived during the Second World War. He has recorded his memories in the deeply moving memoir By Chance Alone. Eisen now lives in Toronto, Ont.
By Chance Alone was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize.
Corvus by Harold R. Johnson is a work of speculative fiction, in which the North American landscape has been ravaged by flash floods, droughts and tornadoes causing mass migration and wars to break out in the north. The wealthy in this new society use Organic Recreational Vehicles, which immerse them in the perpetual bliss of virtual reality. When two lawyers, George and Lenore, are taken out of their physical and cultural comfort zones, they are forced to change their way of thinking and see the world in a different light. Johnson, who worked as a miner, logger and lawyer before becoming a writer, lives in La Ronge, Sask.
Tima Kurdi is the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the young Syrian toddler whose body washed up on the Turkish shoreline after he and his family fled the Syrian War. A photo of Alan went viral and Tima, who was living in Canada, became a spokesperson for the Syrian refugee crisis. In her memoir, The Boy on the Beach, Kurdi shares her own story. She grew up in Damascus and emigrated to Canada at 22, and the Syrian war and the death of Alan had a profound effect on her and her family. Kurdi provides the human side of a story that has dominated the news cycle. Kurdi now lives in Coquitlam, B.C.
In Carrianne Leung‘s linked short story collection That Time I Loved You, residents of a small suburban neighbourhood in Scarborough, Ont. take turns describing the aftermath of a series of suicides in their community. These interconnected short stories explore a wide range of experiences — racism, homophobia, domestic and sexual abuse — revealing that hard truths can be hidden within a well-kept home. Leung lives in Toronto, Ont.
Thea Lim‘s An Ocean of Minutes is a novel set in an alternative timeline: one where a deadly flu ripped through America, forever changing the country. When Polly Nader’s partner Frank becomes infected, she makes a drastic decision in order to save him. A company called TimeRaiser agrees to pay for life-saving treatment if Polly time travels 12 years into the future, where she can be reunited with Frank and work as a bonded labourer. But Polly is accidentally sent 17 years into a future where Frank is nowhere to be found. Lim grew up in Singapore and now lives in Toronto, Ont.
Terese Marie Mailhot traces her life story from a dysfunctional upbringing on Seabird Island in B.C., with an activist mother and abusive father, to an acceptance into the Masters of Fine Art program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico. This slim poetic volume packs a powerful punch in just 140 pages. Mailhot now lives in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Heart Berries was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction and the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.
Retired NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk is probably best known for suffering one of the most horrific sports injuries in recent history. In 1989, during a game against the St. Louis Blues, an opponent’s skate hit Malarchuk‘s neck, severing his carotid artery and nearly costing him his life. The Crazy Game recalls Malarchuk‘s subsequent battles with PTSD and a lifelong struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. Malarchuk grew up in Grand Prairie, Alta. and now lives in Nevada.
James Maskalyk practices emergency medicine and trauma at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. His memoir, Life on the Ground Floor, chronicles his career treating patients in emergency rooms around the world, including in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Bolivia.
Screenwriter and author Elan Mastai has a knack for humorous storytelling and witty prose, skills he puts to good use with his debut novel All Our Wrong Todays. It’s 2016 and, in Tom Barren’s world, technology has solved all of humanity’s problems — there’s no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocados. Unfortunately, Tom isn’t happy. He’s lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you’re heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid. What happens next is a funny and bittersweet adventure. Mastai is a screenwriter best known for the film The F Word. He was born in Vancouver, B.C., and now lives in Toronto, Ont.
Drawing from her Nishnaabeg storytelling roots, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson has created a poignant collection of songs and stories in This Accident of Being Lost, exploring Indigenous identities and experiences. Simpson is an academic, musician, artist and writer who is a member of Alderville First Nation.
Andrew Westoll is a journalist and teacher who spent months as a volunteer caregiver at the Fauna Sanctuary with 13 chimps rescued from a research lab. Westoll forms strong bonds with the chimps during their recovery from some of their tragic pasts. From establishing friendships, to grooming and playing games, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary brings to light the chimps’s remarkable capacity to heal. Westoll lives in Toronto, Ont.
The Woo-Woo is a dark, witty and touching memoir by Vancouver-based writer Lindsay Wong, who gives an honest account of the impact of mental illness on her family. Wong delivers a raw and emotional look at whispered secrets, dysfunctional relationships — and how her grandmother, mother, aunt and even herself initially blamed the mythical “woo-woo,” Chinese spirits that plague the living, for their mental health issues.