Initially, when I put together my (almost entirely arbitrary) categories for the First Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards, I called this category Best Book From a Canadian Author. But as I looked over the titles I had nominated I realized that a lot of them were showing up in other categories and that Warlight and Washington Black were beginning to dominate all over the place.
So instead, this is the Best Canadian Book category. That means, what book (read by me in this calendar year) best represents Canada or says something about Canada today or our national history?
Your Heart is theSize of Your Fist – Martina Scholtens (Brindle & Glass, 2017)
Indian Horse – Richard Wagamese (Douglas & McIntyre, 2012)
Brother – David Chariandy (McClelland & Stewart, 2017)
Our Homesick Songs – Emma Hooper (Hamish Hamilton, 2018)
And the Winner:
The Boat People – Sharon Bala (McClelland & Stewart, 2018)
I wouldn’t say I loved The Boat People right away. Not as I was reading or even as I finished it. But it is a book that has stuck with me since I read it. Without meaning to, I’ve read a number of books about or concerning refugees in the past year. Probably because it is a major topic in our world currently. Immigrants and refugees are at the heart and history of Canada and I think The Boat People excellently captured the complexities of these issues, offering multiple perspectives. Even the ones that frustrated me. I think this is a big that captures some important (and current) issues in Canada and some of the things that our country both thrives at and fails at.