Atlantic Canada Reads Competition

In a play off CBC’s popular Canada Reads competition (and admittedly inspired by The Afterword’s Canada Also Reads competition), Salty Ink has launched Atlantic Canada Reads in the spirit of promoting Atlantic Canadian literature. In May of 2010, readers elected themselves to defend a favourite novel by an Atlantic Canadian. Of the books nominated, a three-person panel selected six books, with the intention of showcasing a diversity of Atlantic Canadian writing.

The Books: click the titles below to learn more about each book, author, and nominator

Book One: Lisa Moore’s February, defended by Trish Osuch

Book Two: Kenneth J. Harvey’s Blackstrap Hawco, defended by Perry Moore

Book Three: Lesley Choyce’s The Republic of Nothing, defended by Stephen Patrick Clare

Book Four: George Elliot Clarke’s George & Rue, defended by Matt Stranach

Book Five: Darryl Whetter’s The Push & The Pull, defended by Nicole Dixon

Book Six: Kathleen Winter’s Annabel, defended by Laura Repas

The Defense Essays: click the links below to read the defense essays for each book

Trish Osuch’s Defense of Lisa Moore’s February

Perry Moore’s Defense of Kenneth J. Harvey’s Blackstrap Hawco

Stephen Patrick Clare’s Defense of Lesley Choyce’s The Republic of Nothing

Matt Stranach’s Defense of George Elliott Clarke’s George & Rue

Nicole Dixon’s Defense of Darryl Whetter’s The Push & The Pull

Laura Repas’ Defense of Kathleen Winter’s Annabel

Vote! Help Pick the Winner of the 2010 Atlantic Canada Reads Competition

The poll will be open from June 18-30th.

Haven’t read all of these books? GOOD! That’s the point. That’s why you get two votes.

Vote for the book that entices you the most, whether you’ve read it or not, and vote for the book, by an Atlantic Canadian author, that you think the country should read this summer.


You Can Vote for Two Books

  • Kenneth J. Harvey's BLACKSTRAP HAWCO (Random House, 2008) (35%, 399 Votes)
  • Lisa Moore's FEBRUARY (Anansi, 2009) (23%, 257 Votes)
  • Kathleen Winter's ANNABEL (Anansi, 2010) (22%, 251 Votes)
  • Lesley Choyce's THE REPUBLIC OF NOTHING (Goose Lane, 2007 Re-issue) (21%, 235 Votes)
  • Darryl Whetter's THE PUSH & THE PULL (Goose Lane, 2008) (20%, 220 Votes)
  • George Elliot Clarke's GEORGE & RUE (HarperCollins, 2004) (12%, 135 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,124

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“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.” – The Globe & Mail

With more than ten books under his belt — books that showcase an astounding versatility in style and story, from creepy slipstream to innovative literary fiction — Kenneth J. Harvey has become an international icon, and “Canada’s heavyweight champion of brash and beautiful literature.” His signature style, and his graceful-but-gritty delivery has been emulated but unmatched. His career took off from the get go, long before Newfoundland was the country’s literary goldmine and publishers were lining up for a pieces of that gold. His first book, Directions for an Open Body, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize (Canada and Caribean Region). Impressive career highlights:  His 2003 release, The Town That Forgot to Breathe, has been published in over a dozen countries. His 2006 mega-hit, Inside, remains the only Canadian-authored book to have won Italy’s prestigious Libro Del Mare Award, and his latest book, not even available in Canada, is currently a Russian bestseller. Kenneth is also the man behind the ReLit awards: the country’s most meaningful literary award.

Blackstrap Hawco, his 2008 release, a work fifteen years in the writing, has been declared the #1 best book out of Canada in 2008 by, it then made’s top 50 books of the decade. A Giller and IMPAC finalist, and a Globe & Mail and Quill & Quire book of the year, Blackstrap Hawco is an epic, 848-page family saga about  Newfoundland’s working class, and spans more than a century.

From Random House’s website: “Named in a moment of anger, Blackstrap Hawco is heir to an island dominion picked over by its adoptive nation … [and] the family legend might be all his people have left to live for. But as Blackstrap Hawco – a novel that will consume you in its dazzling swirl of voices, legends and beautiful hearsay – testifies, a story this haunting, this powerful, might just be enough.”

“ A masterpiece … brutal, poignant, stunning, infuriating, heartbreaking and hopeful, hard to read and harder still to put aside.” – The Chronicle Herald

Blackstrap Hawco also features Kenneth’s own narrative invention, the transcomposite narrative, which transcomposes passages of non-fiction with fiction. It takes the exact wording of newspaper articles, journal entries, or letters written by real people and attributes them to supposedly fictional characters. Kenneth says, “The transcomposite narrative tries to mirror what we actually see in our memories, because what we see in our minds is always a mixture of fact and fiction or history and myth. It is never entirely one or the other.”


Salty Ink: Blackstrap Hawco has been dubbed your masterpiece, and it is certainly epic in every way: The unique transcomposite narrative, the fact it was fifteen years in the making, the fact included it as a top 50 books of the decade, or that called it the #1 book out of Canada in 2008. What’s been the biggest thrill for you about Blackstrap Hawco.

Kenneth J. Harvey: The biggest thrill was having legendary editor, Geoff Mulligan publish Blackstrap in the UK under the Harvill Secker imprint at Random House UK.  Geoff edits Jose Saramago, J.M. Coetzee, Joseph O’Connor, Louis de Bernieres and other renowned authors. It was an honour to be published by him.

Salty Ink: As a versatile author of more than 10 books spanning many genres and styles of writing, what sets Blackstrap Hawco apart from your other work, in your mind?

Kenneth J. Harvey: The 15 years of torment it caused me.

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