Canada Reads 2023 Longlist Part 2

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… It’s time for Canada Reads!

The longlist for Canada Reads 2023 came out and I had to share my thoughts on all 15 books, and maybe even predict which books might make the shortlist.

Because there are 15 books, I’ll be posting about three of the books at a time, otherwise, this will go on forever! I was surprised at the variety of books on the list this year, it’s an improvement from the past few years, but I’m still not seeing as many small/independent publishers on this list.

So let’s look at the next four books on the longlist…

Greenwood by Michael Christie

They come for the trees. It’s 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world’s last remaining forests. It’s 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It’s 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father’s once vast and rapacious timber empire. It’s 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie’s effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.

Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family’s origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind–and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.

This book sounds just like my cup of tea (wink wink) – it’s about nature and family so count me all the way in. I just need to pick this up from my local bookstore. I have a feeling that this will make the shortlist, it sounds like a promising read to me. I think a lot of conversation about nature and our perspective on it could be had. Also last year a non-fiction book about nature and trees made the shortlist – could this be a pattern? This novel was also on the Giller Prize Longlist in 2019.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

This one threw me for a loop. I wasn’t aware that this was written by a Canadian when it made its round on my Bookstagram. I have a feeling this one won’t make it on the shortlist, partly because I don’t see how this ties into the theme this year, but I will get this one from my library.

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.

When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.

As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.

Oh look… Another book from HarperCollins. There’s a LOT of books from HarperCollins on this list. Slightly disappointed in this, but maybe next year it will be better. I’m not a huge fan of rom-coms, but I will give this one a try and take the book out of my library. I doubt this will be on the shortlist.

All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay

On a dark night, along a lonely stretch of coast, a small merchant ship sends two people ashore: their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. The consequences of that act will affect the destinies of empires as well as lives both great and small.
One of those arriving on that stony strand is a young woman who had been abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude far from her home. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course—and is bent upon revenge. The man who will bring the others out from the city on his ship—if they survive their mission—still remembers being exiled as a boy with his family, for their faith; it is a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

This sounds like a good read, one that I’ve already purchased from my bookstore. I have a feeling this might be on the shortlist – it seems more in line with this year’s theme. Some interesting conversations could also be had regarding this novel and the themes present. 

I’m also a sucker for fantasy novels, so I’m excited about this book. I’m surprised it wasn’t on my radar before.

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