Every March for the past 16 years, Canadians are invited to enjoy a week of lively literary debate called Canada Reads. Sponsored by the CBC, Canada’s national broadcasting corporation, the process begins with the announcement of a theme and an invitation to nominate novels by Canadian authors. Five books are shortlisted, and, over the course of a week, the books are defended by the Canadian personalities who nominated them. Each day one book is collectively voted to be removed from the list.
This year’s theme was “one book to move you.” Ziya Tong successfully defended Max Eisen’s By Chance Alone. In this moving memoir, Eisen shares his story of being taken to Auschwitz at 15 years of age with his family and working in slave labour. Tong’s most compelling argument for this novel to be read by all Canadians is that the memory and horror of the Holocaust needs to be kept alive and remembered for future generations. The runner-up novel, Homes, is an equally important and powerful story. Written by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with his high school teacher Winnie Yeung, it tells the story of his life in Iraq and Syria before coming to Canada as a refugee. The other three final nominees are Brother, by David Chariandy; Suzanne, by Anais Barbeau-Lavette, translated by Rhonda Mullins; and The Woo-Woo, by Lindsay Wong. (CBC)