Canada Reads 2014: The Debate Continues and It’s Down to Two


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

This year’s theme for the 13th annual battle of the books that is Canada Reads hosted by Jian Ghomeshi,  is: What is the one novel to change our nation? Which is the one novel all of Canada should read that can instill social change? Which book will inspire Canadians the most to take action?

There will be four days of debate and at the end of each show each panelist will vote to eliminate one title.

The five contenders in this annual book contest and round-table debates are:

Cockroach by Rawi Hage defended by Samantha Bee, Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

cockroach cvr

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan defended by Donovan Bailey, world record holder for the indoor 50-metre dash.

half-blood blues cvr

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden defended by Wab Kinew, Journalist and Aboriginal Activist. the orenda cvr Annabel by Kathleen Winter defended by Sarah Gadon, Actress.

annabel cvr

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood defended by Stephen Lewis, Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which provides support to women and children in Africa living with HIV/AIDS.

year of the flood2


Day One

After three days of debate, the first day introduced the panelists and their subsequent books in competition with a rapid 60-second plea by panelists on behalf of the books they champion.

 While Wab Kinew made an aggressive and dramatic introduction to The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, Sarah Gadon made a compelling argument about compassion on behalf of Annabel by Kathleen Winter. And though Donovan Bailey’s introduction was as speedy as his world record in the 50-metre dash, his points rooted for Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. Samantha Bee was a passionate contender on behalf of the subject of immigration in Cockroach by Rawi Hage and Stephen Lewis was as articulate in his free-form intro of The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood as expected by his impressive, intellectual, diplomatic, and activist background (the man has 37 honorary degrees!).

Perhaps the other panelists feared the power of Stephen Lewis’ future arguments and preferred not to debate him, nor keep him at the round table, but preferred to get rid of their competition early, which may explain the first elimination:

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

year of the flood elimination

Day Two

On Day Two, the panelists were raring to go, ready to defend their titles to one another. Though The Orenda by Joseph Boyden was highly attacked for being a book of “missed opportunity,” critiqued for its acute violence, which Wab Kinew passionately defended, the book was not eliminated.

Instead, when the vote took place, Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan was taken off the table, argued against for its geographical and contextual distance from the Canadian experience.

half-blood-blues elimination

Day Three

Day Three has been by far the most active debate on behalf of all panelists especially covering the issue of intersex people in the novel, Annabel, by Kathleen Winter.

After a passionate debate all around, much to Sarah Gadon’s disappointment, Annabel was voted off by the majority of the panelists.

annabel-cvr elimination


Be sure to return on Friday for the winning result of Canada Reads!


Which book do you think will win Canada Reads? Cockroach by Rawi Hage or The Orenda by Joseph Boyden?

Do you think the context of the books were seriously considered in the voting process or do you think the eliminations were primarily strategic based on the panelists?

Are you #TeamCockroach or #TeamOrenda?


zara cat stamp


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