I have some observations on the most recent “Writers to Watch” list from CBC Books:
- Not surprisingly, it is a diverse list in both authors and their publishers. I would expect nothing less from the CBC.
- I have heard of none of these writers. A few years ago, when I worked in publishing, I’m sure I would have recognized the majority of these names (at the very least, the new face of fiction from Random House) but alas, I glean all my book information from blogs such as these, just like everyone else now so I’m sufficiently out of the loop.
- None of these books looked particularly interesting to me, but they are all very typically “Canadian”, which the CBC seems hell-bent on reminding us of, every chance they get.
- I can guarantee you that all of these authors are struggling to make a living from their writing, and will continue to do so, well after their books are released and highly lauded by critics, which most will inevitably be.
- At least one of these authors will probably find themselves on the Giller longlist this year, but I can guarantee they won’t win it. Yes, I know that without reading any of the books themselves, or even thoroughly reading the blurbs that were included in the article.
- The book I want to read the most is New Tab by Guillaume Morissette because his headshot includes a picture of him holding a beautiful cat.
To some, my list above may seem like I’ve given up on Canadian book lists, or the CBC. I’ve done neither, I assure you. I listen to the CBC all the time, even when I’m sick of how Canadian it sounds, and I still eagerly click on these book ranking lists, if only to see what I do and do not recognize. I am however slightly jaded when it comes to identifying these ‘hot new writers’. Why are these books supposed to be interesting to us, other than the fact that they’re new, and the CBC says they’re good? I suppose that’s what us book bloggers are for, an unbiased opinion to let book enthusiasts know what’s worthwhile, and what isn’t.
I’d also like to point out that in the comments section of the site, the visible diversity of the authors was also noticed by a fellow reader, so obviously I’m not the only one who is aware of the CBC’s attempt to include as many skin colors as possible on this list. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, in fact they probably have a mandate to do this, it’s just so …Canadian!
I was a bit surprised by this too – mostly because I also didn’t recognize any of the names. I was on the National Council for the Writers Union of Canada – I try really hard to keep up with what’s going on (I could’ve supplied my own list of up and comers to watch). So, just a bit surprised how they came up with this. That’s all.
It’s quite the endeavor to stay up-to-date on these things, but I would love to see your list!!!
Well I have read one (Sean Michaels) and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I have heard of Clare Battershill and Kim Fu, although I can’t say that either novel holds much appeal for me.
And I am inclined to agree with your Giller prediction — both the longlisting of at least one, and the fact that it won’t win.
My guess would be that active publicists are probably the primary source for inclusion on the list. Although I also respect CBC Books enough, that I would expect that at least one person there (or a freelancer) has read each of the 12 books.
Glad to hear that someone has heard of these books-that’s a good sign! How funny that we both have the same Giller prediction. I can’t explain why I feel that way, but I do!