2021 marks the 20th edition of CBC Canada Reads. Over four days, the five Canada Reads champions selected will bring their diverse perspectives to this year’s theme: One Book to Transport Us. Canada Reads 2021 takes place March 8-11 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan and broadcasted on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem, and on CBC Books. CBC Books has launched a Facebook group for those who want to read the Canada Reads 2021 books together. You can join the conversation here.
Among the five champions are two books from the B.C.-based publisher, Arsenal Pulp Press. Arsenal Pulp Press is a book publisher in Vancouver, Canada with over 400 titles currently in print, which include literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry; books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and persons of colour) literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; children’s and young adult literature; regional history; cookbooks; alternative crafts; and books in translation. Arsenal Pulp Press is interested in literature that engages and challenges readers, and which asks probing questions about the world around us. Learn about the two champion books, Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead and Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi.
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead
Jonny Appleseed is a novel by Joshua Whitehead about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who leaves the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the big city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather’s funeral. Jonny Appleseed won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The book is championed by Devery Jacobs, a Mohawk actor and filmmaker from Kahnawà:ke Mohawk territory. She can be seen in the film Rhymes for Young Ghouls and the television shows The Order on Netflix, Cardinal on CTV and American Gods on Amazon Prime Video/STARZ. Her next major role will be in Taika Waititi’s new FX series Reservation Dogs. Her feature film as a co-writer, This Place, is set to be released in 2021. Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love After the End. Jonny Appleseed is his first novel.
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi
Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel by Francesca Ekwuyasi about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness. Butter Honey Pig Bread was on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. The book is championed by Roger Mooking, a chef, restaurateur, television host, author and award-winning recording artist. He has hosted Man Fire Food on the Food Network Canada and Cooking Channel, Greatest of America on Travel Channel and Everyday Exotic on Cooking Channel and co-hosted Heat Seekers on Food Network alongside chef Aarón Sanchez. Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in The Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize. Butter Honey Pig Bread is her first book. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and currently lives in Halifax.