OK, for those of you who were not sitting with baited breath waiting for the results of this year's Canada Reads debates, I am utterly delighted to inform you that Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski WON!!!!
Now, here's the back story. I am doing a course for very high level English students, more a keeping-your-English-fresh course than anything else. We are reading books as part of the course, but I am also looking for books that have a very high level of alternative media associated with them so that the students can also do listenings and read a wide variety of texts in formality and informality all surrounding the subject. The first book I chose was Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Morrison has no shortage of on-line presence to say the least, everything from Yale University courses to Nobel Prize Lecture to talks given my major art galleries about her portrait!
I wanted to use North American books as well, I am a wee bit tired by the endless slam that North America has no culture other than Hollywood and McDs. I won't go into it all, but let's just say it bugs me. So Morrison got the nod for the first book, but I really really wanted a Canadian book for the second, and there are just SO many to chose from, however....the Canada Reads excitement was going on at the same time as the course, so that seemed a natural. I ordered the books; all the Canada Reads books. They didn't arrive. I had to order the books for the students, so I did some on-line searching about the books and went for Nikolski. I loved what I heard about the style of the book, the etherial untidiness of it, and I loved it's pan North America (and further) movement. I loved the mystery of some of what I heard, and as Catalans, who consider the Quebecois to be brothers in oppression (a mite strong, but the sympathy is there) or repression, or risk I thought a book by a French Canadian author might ring well. Plus some of us do translation work, so the fact that it won the GG for translation too sang well.
The books still didn't come.
I ordered an extra copy of Nikolski for me.
The books arrived, and with some trepidation I cracked to cover. I was committed to teaching this book and I had never read it. Imagine my relief when I got part way through, then finished. It has a lovely haunting depth to it that calls for re-readings. There is space for the reader's imagination, like beautiful peaceful music. I was enchanted.
Then I was very very happy when it won because now they will be interviewing the author on CBC on Monday and dedicating a month of the book club to it as well. BONANZA!!!!
Picked a winner!