Canadian Canon – 100 Books

In response to Vladimir Putin’s planned 100 book Russian Canon, I have been thinking about a Canadian Canon of 100 books…and what that might/should look like.

I am just randomly slapping titles into this document – so they are in NO particular order. Yet!

The books are also, for now, linked through Goodreads.

1. Roughing It in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
2. The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence
3. Survival, by Margaret Atwood
4. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, by Mordecai Richler
5. Galore, by Michael Crummey
6. Annabel, by Kathleen Winter
7. The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood – SIGH! Since I HAVE to so Jayme (and El!) won’t kick my ass.
8. The Wars, by Timothy Findley
9. In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje
10. Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels
11. Deafening, by Frances Itani
12. The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields
13. A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
14. The Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies
15. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, by Stephen Leacock
16. No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod
17. The Tin Flute, by Gabrielle Roy
18. Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat
19. Kamouraska, by Anne Hébert
20. The Gutenberg Galaxy, by Marshall McLuhan
21. The Hidden Room, by P.K. Page
22. Beautiful Losers, by Leonard Cohen
23. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro
24. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
25. Fall on Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald
26. The Collected Poems of Al Purdy
27. Who Has Seen the Wind, by W. O. Mitchell
28. As For Me and My House, by Sinclair Ross
29. The Selected Stories, by Mavis Gallant
30. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery – because I would probably get beaten if it wasn’t on here.
31. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, by Mordecai Richler
32. That Summer in Paris, by Morley Callaghan
33. The Anatomy of Criticism, by Northrop Frye
34. Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, by Tomson Highway
35. Two Solitudes, by Hugh McLennan
36. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart
37. Les Belles-Soeurs, by Michel Tremblay
38. Obasan, by Joy Kogawa
39. Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs
40. Elizabeth and After, Matt Cohen
41. Lament for a Nation, by George Parkin Grant
42. Black Robe, by Brian Moore
43. The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence
44. Lord Durham’s Report, by Lord Durham
45. In Praise of Older Women, by Stephen Vizinczey
46. The Last Spike, by Pierre Berton
47. No Logo, by Naomi Klein
48. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, by Wayne Johnston
49. The Jade Peony, by Wayson Choy
50. Green Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King
51. La Sagouine, by Antonine Maillet
52. Leaving Home, by David French
53. Essex County, by Jeff Lemire
54. Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden
55. A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
56. The Temptations of Big Bear, by Rudy Wiebe
57. Land to Light On, by Dionne Brand
58. The Hockey Sweater, by Roch Carrier
59. Mad Shadows, by Marie-Claire Blais
60. The Elizabeth Stories, by Isabel Huggan
61. The Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy Gavriel Kay
62. Voltaire’s Bastards, by John Ralston Saul
63. Man Descending, by Guy Vanderhaeghe
64. The Wayfinders, by Wade Davis
65. Generation X, by Douglas Coupland
66. The Complete Writings of Emily Carr, by Emily Carr
67. Paris, 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, by Margaret MacMillan
68. Dispossessed, by Geoffrey York
69. The Meeting Point, by Austin Clarke
70. The Double Hook, by Sheila Watson
71. Salvage King, Ya! by Mark Anthony Jarman
72. By a Frozen River, by Norman Levine
73. Settlers of the Marsh, by Frederick Philip Grove
74. David, by Earle Birney (okay, this is only one poem, but WHAT A POEM!)
75. Cabbagetown by Hugh Garner
76. I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven
77. E.J. Pratt: Complete Poems, by E.J. Pratt
78. Clara Callan, by Richard B. Wright
79. Louis Riel, by Chester Brown
80. A Student of Weather, by Elizabeth Hay
81. The Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant
82. Blackstrap Hawco, by Kenneth J. Harvey
83. Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson
84. The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, by Sally Armstrong
85. The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill

Getting into some double-dipping now:

–. St. Urbain’s Horseman, by Mordecai Richler
–. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
–. The Rebel Angels, by Robertson Davies

…more to come….

© 2012 Jennifer Dawson and

Please request permission to use or reproduce.

The Submission – Amy Waldman

The SubmissionThe Submission by Amy Waldman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(This is my review, as it appeared on, October 5th, 2011.)

First time novelist, Amy Waldman, has created a gut-punch of a novel in The Submission, a tale that wonders: What would happen if the architectural design competition for the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial was won by an American-Muslim?

The story opens two years after the attacks, with a jury deliberating over the two finalists in the Memorial Design competition – The Void and The Garden. The jury, after very tense and prolonged deliberations, finally selects its winner: The Garden. It is at this point the identity of the designer is revealed, an architect named Mohammad (Mo) Khan.

Chaos, of course, ensues as Khan’s identity as an American-Muslim, is leaked to the media and citizens. Special interest groups and pundits argue for and against the fitness of both the individual and his design. Claire Burwell, whose husband died on September 11th, is a member of the jury as a representative of the families who lost loved ones in the attacks. Throughout the blind competition (the identities of those who submitted designs were kept secret), Claire was the most vocal champion for The Garden, feeling the concept offered the strongest opportunity for healing and reflection while honoring those who died. She is then thrust into an awkward and precarious position of balancing her belief in the winning design with the emotional and confrontational outbursts from the families she was supposed to be representing.

Waldman has created something I really love when reading fiction – unreliable narrators. Several main characters – Claire Burwell, Mo Khan, and Sean Gallagher – dig their heels in, waver, reevaluate themselves and others, and cause rippling consequences. Claire has long anchored her identity in liberal social thinking but has never really had to examine her convictions. Mo is arrogant and unknowable in his aloofness. He refuses, on the basis of being a free American citizen, to answer questions about his intentions with his design. This avoidance, on principle, leaves many confused and paranoid.

Sean lost his firefighter brother, Patrick, in the attacks and also lost himself. He felt he was never good enough growing up and had never really known his place in the world – until he began speaking out about his brother’s death. But is that enough to give his own life meaning? All of these characters are tested and pushed to reassess their ways of thinking. Trying to make a difference in the world – which all three are striving to do – is not something that can be undertaken without fully knowing one’s self.

At its heart, The Submission is a tale of caution; if you think you know yourself, please, think again. Readers are taken through a trifecta of large issues: grief, ambition, and prejudice. And early in the novel, a particular quote slapped me in the face: “You couldn’t call yourself an American if you hadn’t, in solidarity, watched your fellow Americans being pulverized, yet what kind of America did watching create?” It is an inescapable question. The media allowed for interminable full access, nonstop watching and reading at our disposal. Talking heads from television infiltrated our own minds. Special interest groups tore at our heartstrings. Pundits swayed our thinking this way and that. Throughout, there was never any disagreement that 9/11 was a domestic tragedy of global significance. A national embrace brought families who lost loved ones to our collective chest in an effort to support them and keep them safe. And yet. And yet there were so many competing interests fighting and often losing sight of the reason for the heightened passions and positions – the people who lost their lives.

The very title of this novel says a lot. Each character we meet is asked to submit – whether to alter a long-held belief, upend their moral center, or open a door to a stranger. The Submission also represents the architectural design Mohammad submits in hopes of creating an important work. Within a religious context, the word “muslim” means “one who voluntarily submits or surrenders to God’s will.” Around one simple word, so much turns. And as with Waldman’s novel, a world evolves around one simple concept.

The author, a former journalist for The New York Times, and their South Asia Bureau co-chief for over three years, was in Manhattan on the the day of the attacks in 2001, and she spent the following six weeks reporting on the aftermath. Several years ago – while talking with a friend about the controversy Maya Lin endured when, in 1981, her Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial design was selected through open competition – Waldman supposed that a Muslim-American planning the WTC Memorial would be a modern equivalent situation. And so, The Submission was born, as was her career as a novelist.

She has stated that in writing a story about 9/11, she “was just interested in looking at the variety of experiences and the grief. To tell the story from multiple perspectives.” Waldman succeeds in achieving this goal beautifully with her debut novel; through her gifted prose and fully realized characters, she has created a very powerful reading experience.

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