CBC's annual book showdown, Canada Reads, returns in 2021, and yesterday book lovers got a glimpse at the potential contenders. The eclectic longlist, containing 15 titles, will be whittled down to five for the 20th annual book debate show. The final selections will be made by the celebrity panellists, who will each choose a book to defend through the four day competition.
The "Canada Reads effect" is traditionally considered one of the biggest boosts a book can get in terms of publicity and sales, so the stakes are high. Both the panellists and the books they choose to champion will be revealed on January 14.
Of the 15 longlisted titles, nine are published by independent presses. Notably, the list includes a graphic novel from Montreal's Drawn & Quarterly, a novel from newcomer Quebec press QC Fiction (founded in 2016), and a novel from New York-based speculative fiction publisher Erewhon Books (the author, C.L. Polk, is Canadian).
The debates will take place March 8-11, 2021, with comedian Ali Hassan returning as host to shepherd the panellists through a series of debates that sometimes turn quite spirited. The entire competition will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, streaming service CBC Gem, and on CBC Books.
The 2021 CBC Canada Reads Longlist:
- Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin (Vintage Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada)
- All Together Now: A Newfoundlander's Light Tales for Heavy Times by Alan Doyle (Doubleday Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada)
- Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi (Arsenal Pulp Press)
- Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson (House of Anansi Press)
- Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee (Hamish Hamilton Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada)
- Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray (Breakwater Books)
- The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill (Harper Perennial, a division of HarperCollins Canada)
- The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk (Erewhon Books)
- Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel, translated by Katherine Hastings and Peter McCambridge (QC Fiction)
- Thunder Through My Veins by Gregory Scofield (Anchor Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada)
- Wendy, Master of Art by Walter Scott (Drawn & Quarterly)
- You Are Eating An Orange. You Are Naked. by Sheung-King (Book*hug Press)
- Tilly and the Crazy Eights by Monique Gray Smith (Second Story Press)
- Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins Canada)
- Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Do you have a favourite already? Let us know on Twitter and stay tuned to Open Book for coverage of the 2021 competition.