Canada Reads 2020 Longlist

What book should bring Canada into focus?

The CBC Canada Reads 2020 longlist has arrived and this year the list has diversified to include poetry, speculative fiction, as well as a graphic novel. Out of these 15 books which ones will make the shortlist? And which one will best meet the theme this year, one book to bring Canada into focus?

I would personally like to see Son of a Trickster on the shortlist as well as the graphic novel, Dear Scarlett. Which ones are you excited for?

The final five books and their champions will be revealed on Jan. 22, 2020.

The debates will take place March 16-19, 2020 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan. The debates will be broadcast on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Brother by David Chariandy

“Had I recognized it only then? We were losers and neighbourhood schemers. We were the children of the help, without futures. We were, none of us, what our parents wanted us to be. We were not what any other adults wanted us to be. We were nobodies, or else, somehow, a city.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 132 pages.
Read on February 7, 2019.

This is the only full-fiction selection from the Canada Reads 2019 shortlist though its story is likely all too real for many. This is an intricate story of a set of first-generation Canadian brothers, Michael and Francis, and their upbringing in the rough neighbourhood of Scarborough, Ontario in the 90s. 

canada-reads-2019-lisa-ray
“Brother” will be defended by Lisa Ray in the Canada Reads 2019 debates taking place on March 25-28, 2019.


The story has a weaving timeline that begins in the present day in which Michael is welcoming an old school friend, Aisha, into the home he still shares with his ailing mother after Aisha’s father has passed away. The two of them allude to a tragic event involving Francis and from there Michael ruminates on the details of his childhood opening the whole story up to the reader as well as the events that brought about the death of his brother, Francis.

Michael and Francis’ mother is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and with their father absent, she is the sole provider for her boys. She works hard, too hard, in order to keep food on the table for them. It is her character I find the most tragic. After Francis dies, she is never herself again. She tried so hard to bring her boys the best yet they were never able to overcome the impossible circumstances that poverty and race trapped them in.

Francis was the cool kid in the neighbourhood. Popular and into his fair share of trouble and with a dream of being involved in hip hop and music but was constantly fighting the barrage of prejudice against him. Kids from this neighbourhood were made up of a variety of immigrant families struggling to get by. Crime, poverty, and gangs became prevalent and not much was expected of kids like Michael and Francis, and like many of the kids in the neighbourhood, they got smothered in this trapt environment. Aisha was the exception. Aisha did well very well in school and managed to escape the neighbourhood with a scholarship. Aisha and Michael used to spend lots of time at the local library as a way to get out of the house and because Michael was never quite cool enough to hang out with Francis and his friends at a local barbershop.

The story is an encompassing story that touches on immigration, race, poverty and the Black Lives Matter movement, yet the approach of these difficult ideas is broached in such a delicate manner. It’s written in a very matter-of-fact way in that it emphasises that this is just another ordinary family and that their situation isn’t all that unique, making the impact of the story that much more poignant. It’s a very politically and timely piece that is uniquely Canadian in terms of the setting but all-encompassing with its ideas.

The ideas alone are enough to move you but the way Michael and his mother’s life end up, without Francis and without hope of a better life, are what truly make this novel.

Jan 10th – Canada Reads Longlist Announced

Is it time yet?

It’s Almost Here!

One of the best times of the year is coming soon. Canada Reads 2019 kicks off with the longlist announcement coming on January 10th!

The final five books and the panellists who will be defending them will be revealed on Jan. 31, 2019.

The debates will take place March 25-28, 2019. 

What topics are you hoping for this year and who do you think might make the cut?

I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing the final five for your reading pleasure.

I can’t wait!