Fiction Map of the World – Canada

by Travelbag on 27 August 2014, 14:08PM

Today’s article will focus on Canada. Being the second largest country in the world by land mass you’d expect it to provide plenty of inspiration for its creative inhabitants. Luckily for us it has!

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Essential Holiday Reading

For holiday reading I’m going to suggest a book that inspired a generation and gave the 90s a couple of its favourite phrases, McJob and Generation X. The book is of course Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland. Told as a framed narrative it is separated into three parts: the first introducing the three main characters and the second and third parts expanding upon the list of characters and each of their personal stories. Averse to the common themes in life of getting on in work, social climbing and the like the central characters have cut themselves off from these templates. Despite Coupland’s reluctance to commit to there being a real life Generation X it represented a whole group of people at the time, it spoke to them, and is an important and compelling novel for this very reason. Although more of a sleeper hit it is a modern classic in the eyes of many.

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Notable Canadian Books

Canada has provided three and a half winners of the Booker Prize; The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The half is recent winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton who is Canadian born but a New Zealand national.In humorous literature there is Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, a sequence of stories detailing small town archetypes and their ways, detailed with care and humour. There’s also The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler, the story of the ruthless pursuit to ‘be somebody’ despite the costs. It is a funny, heartfelt and wise novel and was adapted into a film starring Richard Dreyfuss in 1974.For something a little more controversial try The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, a book frequently banned for being blasphemous and obscene by school boards but is commonly regarded as a classic of Canadian literature.

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Notable Canadian Authors

Some of the aforementioned novelists are considered amongst the greatest Canada has produced, particularly Margaret Atwood (Alias Grace, Oryx and Crake) and Michael Ondaatje (In the Skin of a Lion) for the consistency within their oeuvre. But there are many more. Going back to Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), through to the controversial Farley Mowat (Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer) to celebrated short-story writer Alice Munro, Canada has consistently produced fantastic writers. There is a younger generation of authors that includes Joseph Boyden, Rohinton Mistry and Booker Prize shortlisted Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), so Canadian literature appears to be in safe hands. 

Notable Canadian Films

The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most prestigious events of its kind worldwide and has seen many Academy Award nominated and winning films premiere there, including Argo, Crash and Silver Linings Playbook. However, Canadian film has suffered perhaps from a lack of identity, and in the last decade has seen large investment in order to try to produce more films that represent the national consciousness. Despite this Canada has produced a massive array of crossover talent including the likes of blockbuster director James Cameron (The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar), Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling and Donald Sutherland as well as Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, This Is The End). Director David Cronenberg is famed for being a pioneer of the body horror genre with films such as the acclaimed Videodrome, The Fly and Scanners. Canadian cinema has also produced many notable French language films such as Mon oncle Antoine, Les Bons Débarras and Les Ordres, films often listed as classics of Canadian cinema. 

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Essential Holiday Listening

For holiday listening I’m going to recommend a classic 90’s album, Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. A commercial and critical success that included the Grammy-nominated track Ironic it blended heartfelt, direct and intensely personal lyrics with a rock-pop style and Morissette’s unusual and powerful vocals. This combination clearly struck a chord with the record-buying public of the time as it went 16x platinum.An insular journey with songs about break-ups, depression and frustration in life it was Morissette baring her soul lyrically but also represented a musical shift into an alternative rock arena that was vastly different to her dance pop-oriented first two albums. This was a move that clearly paid off, launching her into superstardom in one fell swoop. 

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Notable Canadian Musicians

Canada has a strong tradition in producing top-selling popular musicians, from as far back as pop icon Paul Anka through to Celine Dion to Nelly Furtado and Avril Lavigne and onto artists like Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber. As well as this there are also rock artists like the popular band Nickelback (Silver Side Up) and Bryan Adams who has sold over 100 million records worldwide, including one of the best-selling singles of all time Everything I Do (I Do It For You) from the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.In the alternative scene there are artists such as Tegan and Sara, k.d Lang and both Rufus and Martha Wainwright. Not to mention two of Canada’s most beloved musicians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, both of whom have been consistently producing music since the 60s and are both inductees of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Again, Canada has been producing talent in this field consistently for many years. 

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