Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Are You Canadian Enough?

Recently in Canada, there's been a bit of discussion of whether Canadian literature of today is Canadian enough. Here are two bits recently posted about that.

This is typical of Canada, we wonder whether the books written by Canadians are Canadian enough. Some Canadian books are not set in Canada and don't have Canadians in them but they are written by Canadians. In the past some have said these books don't qualify as Canadian enough. I won't get involved in this argument that much save to say that I believe if a book is written by a Canadian, it's Canadian regardless of the plot, setting, characters, etc.

What bothers me about these two posts and some others about this Canadianism is there is too much focus on various Canadian awards, especially the Giller and the GG, aka the Governor-General's Award. The books mostly used in these discussions are those books shortlisted for these awards. And it seems that only these books are used to describe the current state of Canadian fiction. The rest of the books written by other Canadian writers don't seem to count. I won't get much into the fact that most of these awards, especially the Giller, discourage books of a science fiction and crime nature not to enter the contest. Go about halfway down in this post to see:

My point is Canada's publishing and literary community is way too focussed on awards. Awards are nice and I do like them and would like to win some. But it's become such a major part of our literary culture that it seems that only a few books who are shortlisted for awards are the only reflection of Canadian literature. And that's pretty sad.

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