From Charles Foran’s pick of Yann Martel’s Beatrice & Virgil (with a fascinating podcast conversation that followed), Esi Edugyan’s choice of The Purchase and re-imagining family histories, Heather O’Neill’s selection of Secret Daughter, or Joseph Boyden’s recommendation of Indian Horse – these are all novels that, in their own unique way, represent some of our best storytellers. Before we start a new chapter entitled ‘2016’ let’s look back and appreciate the incredible selection of books our guest authors chose in 2015.
The Amnesty International Book Club’s 2015 List of Books
- The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
“Thomas King is such an engaging writer. He has such a way with words that I found myself feeling all of the emotions he was expressing and he illustrated so fiercely the nuances between what was taught in Canadian history and the truth and its consequences for the “Indians”,” says Book Club member Lorraine.
- Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
“This is a celebration of the girls who are born in India, their travails, their tragedies, and their right to fully be part of their country’s history. This book is about the miracle that is their will to become women,” says guest reader and CBC Canada Reads winner, Heather O’Neill.
- Beatrice & Virgil by Yann Martel
“Those courageous people who survived the Holocaust to tell their terrible tales, and those determined to document and memorialize the events, will cease to be. There is no guarantee their determination and courage will be passed along. It will for a while, naturally – what was done to the Jewish race was unrivaled in scale and intent – but, well, a lot can happen, and does; and a lot can get forgotten, and does,” says Charles Foran, Governor General Literary award winner, on how fiction is a worthy approach to ‘not forgetting’.
- The Purchase by Linda Spalding
“I found myself mesmerized by this novel. From its earliest pages – from the very first sentence, one understands that this is a world kicked out of alignment, where relationships are twisted into unfamiliar shapes,” says Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and guest reader, Esi Edugyan.
- China Dog and Other Stories by Judy Fong Bates
“Judy Fong Bates, in all her works, is able to take the racism that is a daily reality for her Chinese characters and interweave it with complexly built characters who live vivid lives and like all other human beings, fall in love, experience grief, etc.,” says Lambda Literary Award winning author, Shyam Selvadurai.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
“The Handmaid’s Tale is an unsparing indictment of a community that regards females as chattels, but it is also a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit,” says acclaimed author Gail Bowen, winner of the Arthur Ellis Award.
- Sweetland by Michael Crummey
“I’ve known for some time, along with most other Canadian writers, that Michael Crummey is one of our finest storytellers … I approached reading his newest novel, Sweetland, with some excitement. I knew I would be reading a good book, but I was absolutely blown away,” says bestselling author, Steven Galloway.
- A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche
“The book is an angry essay that uses the only form of writing that could reach so many, and so effectively—the novel—to tell us something that no one, it seemed, really wanted to get involved in,” says critically acclaimed author Shanti Mootoo.
- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces Saul’s life as a member of the Anishinabeg people, forced from his family and the land and sent to a residential school.
“Amnesty International does such important work in healing those wounds in real life, and a book club to help draw attention to the issues of our nation and as a chance for people to meet and interact is such an excellent idea. I’m sure there will be many amazing reads to come,” says Indian Horse recommended reader, Joseph Boyden.
Get the Amnesty Book Club discussion guides in 2016 and read along! To receive book picks, enter giveaways, read author reflections, attend webcasts and more, sign up for our special Book Club newsletter at AmnestyBookClub.ca.
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Happy New Year!
The Amnesty International Book Club Team