This Is My Country, What's Yours?: A Literary Atlas of Canada

This Is My Country, What's Yours?: A Literary Atlas of Canada

Noah Richler

Language: English

Pages: 496

ISBN: 0771075375

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Winner of the 2007 B.C. Award for Canadian Non-fiction
A Globe and Mail Best 100 Book (2006)
National Post Best Books (2006)

A bold cultural portrait of contemporary Canada through the work of its most celebrated novelists, short story writers, and storytellers.

Stories are the surest way to know a place, and at a time when the fabric of the country seems daily more uncertain, Noah Richler looks to our authors for evidence of the true nature of Canada. He argues why fiction matters and seeks to discover — in the extra-ordinary diversity of communities these writers represent — what stories, if any, bind us as a nation.

Over two years, Richler has criss-crossed the country and interviewed close to one hundred authors — a who’s who of Canadian literature, including Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, Alistair MacLeod, Gil Courtemanche, Jane Urquhart, Joseph Boyden, Miriam Toews, Yann Martel, Fred Stenson, Douglas Coupland, and Rohinton Mistry — about the places and ideas that are most meaningful to their work. The result is a journey through the reality of Canada and its imagination at a critical point in the country’s evolution. Within thematic chapters he exposes our “Myths of Disappointment” and considers the stories of our native peoples, the rise of the city, and how our history as a colony shapes our society and politics even today.

This Is My Country, What's Yours? is an impassioned literary travelogue and a vivid portrayal of our society, the work of Canadian authors, and the idea of writing itself.

This Is My Country, What's Yours? is based on Noah Richler’s ten-part documentary of the same name originally broadcast on CBC Radio’s flagship Ideas program in spring 2005.

From the Hardcover edition.


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society,” Clarke said. “At Harrison College, it was understood very quickly that one could not go out with a girl unless she was from a particular school. A person without success in the new country would go back to the idea that he had been to Harrison College. He would depend on this history of pedigree in precisely the same mean-spirited way that the English had used theirs against him in Barbados, and this would have brought about depression. When such a boy came to Toronto, he looked for

“Eskimos.” (This is still how most British refer to Inuit.) Margaret Atwood, the recurring Booker nominee, and winner in 2000, was the exception that proved the rule. As a women’s icon, she lay beyond the limits of national identity. Three years after Atwood’s victory, Douglas Coupland published Hey Nostradamus!, a novel set in Vancouver with roots in the high-school massacre at Columbine, Colorado, and a British reporter who interviewed him wrote that murder of the kind he described was just not

Inverness, a sign advertising waterfront lots was written in German. Within town, a small museum honoured generations of miners’ hard work, housed in an old station of the Canadian National Railway, that other great monopoly, but a couple of new inns as well as a restaurant had been built above the site where the mine had been, overlooking the water. This was a more successful reclamation than was happening in Buchans. There would be a golf course, and more chalets with owners from away. The

international capital. Because it owes no loyalty whatsoever to place, there is an air of indifference perpetrated in the ventures of these conglomerates that means that no matter how much is uttered about wanting to do good things for workers or the community at large, what is said is never quite believed. The workers don’t trust that management will always be there for them, and management does not trust that the workers will be loyal to the Company, as they were in the old days. There was a

Gowan, “is that elsewhere humans are succeeding in controlling the landscape and changing it. In Saskatchewan, the landscape is winning the battle.” LEADER, SASKATCHEWAN, some sixty kilometres from where Karen Solie grew up, is, like so many of the farming communities of the southwest, comprised of a few houses gathered at a crossroads and a gas station (for sale). A hamburger kiosk sells burgers made from frozen patties. Next to it is the Rattler’s Café, a one-storey box of a building in

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