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Saturday, November 12, 2016

LRC's 25 Most Influential Books

October 13 I attended the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the Literary Review of Canada (LRC). The LRC is a “forum for discussion and debate about books, culture, politics and ideas.” The evening began with a discussion between David Frum and Gary Doer on the implications of the US elections on Canada.

It seems rather strange that just about three weeks before the elections, both the liberal and the conservative elements in Canada seemed certain that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win. Frum, a neocon, ridiculed Trump (not without justification), but didn’t anticipate any substantive transformation in the relations between Canada and the United States, and neither did Doer, a former Canadian Ambassador to the US. Heather Hiscox of the CBC moderated the discussion.

The discussion was followed by a cocktail reception and silent auction. Then the program began with opening remarks by Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, Ontario Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. And, then the LRC 25 (Most Influential Books) of the last 25 years was unveiled.

In her publisher’s note Helen Walsh of the LRC explains, “We limited our selection to the books the LRC would have typically reviewed in that time frame, rather than the much larger selection of books published each year: approximately 70 percent were serious, general-interest, nonfiction titles, and 30 percent were literary fiction. All were published in English.”

Walsh emphasizes, “The LRC believes strongly that books are the architecture of society. Writers who grapple with the long-form exploration of ideas – in fiction as well as nonfiction – provide a fundamental and irreplaceable function. We salute them, and thank them, for enlivening the public debate and helping us create the kind of society in which we want to live.”

Mohamed Huque has edited the 25th Anniversary edition, and eminent authors have introduced each of the 25 books. Here’s the list:
  1. A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright introduced by Charles Foran
  2. Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway introduced by Margaret Atwood
  3. Generation X by Douglas Coupland introduced by Adam Sternbergh
  4. Citizen of the World and Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau introduced by Michael Valpy
  5. Boom, Bust and Echo, David K Foot & Daniel Stoffman introduced by Michael Adams
  6. Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire introduced by Thomas Axworthy
  7. Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk introduced by Niigaan Sinclair
  8. Shooting the Hippo by Linda Mcquaig introduced by Bruce Campbell
  9. Sisters in the Wilderness by Charlotte Gray introduced by Alissa York
  10. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry introduced by Rashi Khilnani
  11. Nation Maker by Richard Gwyn introduced by Patrick Dutil
  12. Fire and Ice by Michael Adams introduced by Dimitry Anastakis
  13. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinked introduced by Erna Paris
  14. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill introduced by Grace Westcott
  15. Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillan introduced by Jane Hildreman
  16. No Logo by Naomi Klein introduced by Derrick O’Keefe
  17. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood introduced by David Staines
  18. The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul introduced by Bronwyn Drainie
  19. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell introduced by Ibi Kaslik
  20. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge introduced by Lawrence Scanlan
  21. Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs introduced by Suanne Kelman
  22. Blood and Belonging by Michael Ignatieff introduced by Nahlah Ayed
  23. The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro introduced by Judy Stoffman
  24. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King introduced by Lee Maracle
  25. A Secular Age by Charles Tylor introduced by David Cayley

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