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2021 Canada Reads Contenders


Canada Reads is back with the 2021 edition. 

This is the 20th edition and this year's books are a diverse group of titles that really shine a light on the talent and depth of Canadian writers.

Ali Hassan, the show's host had this to say about the competition: "In 20 years of debating which books matter most to Canadians, there has never been a more poignant time in Canada Reads history to be reminded of the transportive quality of a great book to take us on a journey and explore new perspectives," Hassan said. "This season, I'm looking forward to hosting conversations around stories that reflect perseverance, resilience and hope, each in their own unique way."

The debate to pick a winner takes place the week of March 8-11 wherever you get your CBC.


Lee, Jessica J.
Two trees make a forest

Lee's memoir explores her ancestral family origins in Taiwan. What begins with some fragmentary notes from her father, Lee delves into the history of the island, the geography, the politics, the weather, as well as her family's connection to this place. Also available as a downloadable Audiobook.

Polk, C. L.
The midnight bargain

In parts historical (It's set during the English Regency period) and romance, with strong women characters and a sharp social commentary to make, Midnight Bargain tells the story of a magus to be, who yearns to practice her arts, while contending with family and societal norms. Also available as a downloadable E-book.

Whitehead, Joshua
Jonny Appleseed

2021 Winner: Jonny Appleseed is the coming of age story of a young man, who is both Indigenous and queer. What follows is the story of Jonny making his way back to the Rez for a funeral. It's a graphic, sex-positive, and an unsparing look at being both brown and queer, within the context of both traditional Indigenous culture and the dominant white culture. Also available in e-book and downloadable audiobook formats.

Ekwuyasi, Francesca
Butter honey pig bread

This debut novel tells the story of Kambirinachi, a Nigerian mother of twin girls. The story follows the twins (Kehinde and Taiye ) as they grow up and move to Canada. Their stories are the stories of separation and estrangement, the mother who loves them, and the knotty difficulty of modern life. Also available as a downloadable E-book.

Walschots, Natalie Zina

This debut novel explores the fantastical world of superheroes and villains that you'd expect to see in Marvel and DC comics, but with more depth and verve. Hench means work, and the work is for supervillains who control (or fail to control the world) with their workers. Anna is one such worker, and her tale is at times both campy fun, and serious social critique. It's a novel that defies easy categorizations and simple answers.