Canada Reads 2018 @ SAPL – Precious Cargo

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Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson

Surprising and revelatory non-fiction from a talented young writer whose last book, “Cataract City,” was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Prize, and was a Globe Best Book and national bestseller. In this new work of intimate, riveting, and timely non-fiction, based loosely on an award-winning article he published, Davidson tells the story of one year in his life – driving a school bus full of special-needs kids. Davidson shows us how his evolving relationship with the kids on that bus, each of them struggling physically as well as emotionally and socially, slowly but surely changed his life along with the lives of the precious cargo in his care. This is the extraordinary story of that year and those relationships. It is also a moving, important and universal story about how we see and treat people with special needs in our society. (Publisher)

CBC Canada Reads information about the author and title

Craig Davidson’s website

Author biography on Wikipedia

Craig Davidson’s blog – reader questions

A Chatelaine interview

A Radio interview on CBC’s The Next Chapter

A TVO article and video interview

A CBC’s The Current podcast and transcript

Globe and Mail review

Quill and Quire review

Craig Davidson aka Nick Cutter

Canada Reads 2018 @ SAPL – Forgiveness

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Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

Forgiveness is the true story of Mark Sakamoto’s grandparents. His maternal grandfather was captured and imprisoned as a prisoner of war in Japan during the Second World War — all while his paternal grandmother and her Japanese-Canadian family was interned by their own government in Alberta.

When the Second World War broke out, Ralph MacLean chose to escape his troubled life on the Magdalen Islands in eastern Canada and volunteer to serve his country overseas. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Mitsue Sakamoto saw her family and her stable community torn apart after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Like many young Canadian soldiers, Ralph was captured by the Japanese army. He would spend the war in prison camps, enduring pestilence, beatings and starvation, as well as a journey by hell ship to Japan to perform slave labour, while around him his friends and countrymen perished. Back in Canada, Mitsue and her family were expelled from their home by the government and forced to spend years eking out an existence in rural Alberta, working other people’s land for a dollar a day.

By the end of the war, Ralph emerged broken but a survivor. Mitsue, worn down by years of back-breaking labour, had to start all over again in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A generation later, at a high school dance, Ralph’s daughter and Mitsue’s son fell in love.

Although the war toyed with Ralph’s and Mitsue’s lives and threatened to erase their humanity, these two brave individuals somehow surmounted enormous transgressions and learned to forgive. Without this forgiveness, their grandson Mark Sakamoto would never have come to be. (Publisher)

CBC Canada Reads information about the author and title

“They were suspended in a dustbowl of a terrible dream” – Book review (Macleans)

Forgiveness: A family history that is also Canada’s” – Book review (Globe and Mail)

Book review in Nikkei Voice: The Japanese Canadian National Newspaper

Japanese Internment: Banished and Beyond Tears (The Canadian Encyclopedia) 

Prisoners of War in the Second World War (Veterans Affairs Canada)


Canada Reads 2018 @ SAPL – The Boat People

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The Boat People by Sharon Bala

By the winner of The Journey Prize, and inspired by a real incident, The Boat People is a gripping and morally complex novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage to reach Canada – only to face the threat of deportation and accusations of terrorism in their new land.

When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is thrown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the “boat people” are members of a terrorist militia. As suspicion swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum.
Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer Priya, who reluctantly represents the migrants; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate, The Boat People is a high-stakes novel that offers a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Inspired by real events, with vivid scenes that move between the eerie beauty of northern Sri Lanka and combative refugee hearings in Vancouver, where life and death decisions are made, Sharon Bala’s stunning debut is an unforgettable and necessary story for our times. (Publisher)

CBC Canada Reads information about the author and title

Sharon Bala’s website

Discussion questions

A PRISM Magazine interview with Sharon Bala

A book review in The Telegram

Information about Ocean Lady migrant ship

Wikipedia article on MV Sun Sea migrant ship incident

A Guardian article on the incident


Canada Reads 2018 @ SAPL – American War

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American War Omar el Akkad

American War by Omar El Akkad

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle — a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past — his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others. (Publisher)

CBC Canada Reads information about the author and title

About Omar El Addad

A BookPage interview with the author

An Unbound Worlds interview with the author

A video interview with the author (Youtube)

The Penguin Random House Reader’s Guide

A Guardian book review

A Globe and Mail book review

A New York Times book review



Canada Reads 2018 @ SAPL — The Marrow Thieves

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marrow thieves

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In the dystopian world of The Marrow Thieves, climate change has ravaged the Earth and a majority of the world’s humans have lost their ability to dream. In North America, Indigenous people are on the run — hunted for their bone marrow, which is believed to restore dreams.

In an apocalyptic future Canada, Indigenous people have been forced to live on the run to avoid capture by the Recruiters, government military agents who kidnap Indians and confine them to facilities called “schools.” Orphan Frenchie (Métis) is rescued from the Recruiters by Miigwans (Anishnaabe) along with a small band of other Indians from different nations, most young and each with a tragic story. Miigwans leads the group north to find others, holding on to the belief of safety in numbers. Five years later, Frenchie is now 16, and the bonded travelers have protected one another, strengthened by their loyalty and will to persevere as a people. They must stay forever on alert, just a breath away from capture by the Recruiters or by other Indians who act as their agents. Miigwans reveals that the government has been kidnapping Indians to extract their bone marrow , scientists believing that the key to restoring dreaming to white people is found within their DNA. Frenchie later learns that the truth is even more horrifying. The landscape of North America has been completely altered by climate change, rising oceans having eliminated coastlines and the Great Lakes having been destroyed by pollution and busted oil pipelines. Though the presence of the women in the story is downplayed, Miigwans is a true hero; in him Dimaline creates a character of tremendous emotional depth and tenderness, connecting readers with the complexity and compassion of Indigenous people. A dystopian world that is all too real and that has much to say about our own.  (Kirkus Starred Review)

CBC Canada Reads information about the author and title

About Cherie Dimaline

A Publishing Perspectives interview with the author

An Editors Weekly interview with the author

Interview with the author on The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers

(RE)visions: The Indigenous Voice in Fiction (Youtube)

A Quill & Quire book review

A Globe and Mail book review