Riffing off CBC's Canada Reads competition, Salty Ink launched "Atlantic Canada Reads" in the spirit of promoting top-notch East-Coast literature. In May, readers across the country elected themselves to defend a favourite novel by an Atlantic-Canadian author. Of the books nominated, a three-person panel selected six books (with the intention of showcasing the rich diversity of the region's writerly contribution to our national literary consciousness). Salty Ink introduced each author, novel and nominator prior to posting each of the latter's defence essays (alongside the final "numbers" as well as bibliographic data here); then, from June 18 till June 30, 1,124 members of the public voted for either Lesley Choyce's Republic of Nothing (defended by Stephen Patrick Clare), George Elliott Clarke's George & Rue (defended by Matt Stranach), Kenneth J. Harvey's Blackstrap Hawkco (defended by Perry Moore), Lisa Moore's February (defended by Trish Osuch), Darryl Whetter's The Push & The Pull (defended by Nicole Dixon) or Kathleen Winter's Annabel (defended by Laura Repas).
First runner-up? February by Newfoundland's Lisa Moore while the winner, also by another accomplished Newfoundland-born author who additionally doubles as The ReLit Awards' impresario?
Ta da! Kenneth J. Harvey's Blackstrap Hawkco, an energetic 848-page epic The Chronicle Herald praised as "[a]masterpiece . . . brutal, poignant, stunning, infuriating, heartbreaking and hopeful, hard to read and harder still to put aside" while The Globe and Mail described the work 15 years in the making thusly: "Mesmerizing scenes worthy of a national epic. Its meticulous construction and control contain a breadth of incident and characterization seen only in the most ambitious and imposing novels." (That's Harvey in the photo at the top of this item.)
Kudos KJH & All Esteemed Finalists!
Don't miss this: Plan NOW to attend this year's Saskatchewan Festival of Words skedded to run July 15-18 in Moose Jaw with a stellar cast of authors including Judy Fong Bates, Anthony Bidulka, Stephen Brunt, Denise Chong, Lorna Crozier, Robert Currie, Connie Gault, Lorna Goodison, Trevor Herriot, Gerald Hill, Jack Hodgins, Helen Humphreys, Harold Johnson, Alice Kuipers, John Lent, Yann Martel, James R. Page, Stephen Palmer, Richard Scarsbrook, Mariko Tamaki, Thomas Trofimuk and Geoff Ursell (among many celebrated others). And, that's just for starters; park your browser @ The Festival's 'Site and prepare yourself for a feast of fabulosities.
Notable Quotable: "Perhaps instead of constantly deploring our lack of identity, we should attempt to understand and explain the regional, ethnic and class identities that we do have. It might just be that it is in these limited identities that 'Canadianism' is found; and that except for our overheated nationalist intellectuals, Canadians find this situation very satisfactory" (Ramsay Cook, 1967).