CanLit is horrible.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:06 AM

A Brit Giller judge makes fun of Canadian fiction

Peter Scowen

From there, she took a more critical pass at Canadian fiction, noting that the mid-list material coming from many publishers has a “striking homogeneity”:

There is a convention in Canada of appending to your novel a list of people who are fulsomely thanked for their support, starting with the book’s editor – unfailingly sensitive, creative and patient – plus family, friends and first readers. These last are generally fellow members of a writing group, who have contributed insightful modifications.

But has any major work of art ever been produced by committee? Readers may wonder whether a writer’s vision and voice may not get ironed out by such proactive input, and indeed there is a striking homogeneity in the muddy middle range of novels, often about families down the generations with multiple points of view and flashbacks to Granny’s youth in the Ukraine or wherever.

The US, too, is a nation of immigrants, but American novelists do not bang on so about their heritage and antecedents.

Fully wound up now, she delivered the coup de grace, suggesting that mediocre writers of “unbelievably dreadful” novels benefit by being Canadian:

It seems in Canada that you only have to write a novel to get grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and from your provincial Arts Council, who are also thanked. Complaints were once voiced that most shortlisted Giller novels emanated from just three big-name publishers, all owned by Bertelsmann, and that virtually every winner lived in the Toronto area. Now, many of the submitted authors, and their rugged subject matter, hail from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland. That’s maybe because small publishers too are now subsidised, and they proliferate. If you want to get your novel published, be Canadian.

Totally agree. There are so many crappy CanLit floating around like baby seals staring dumbly on ice floes waiting to be clubbed.

I remember as a kid, I used to read a novel a week. I would all the fiction books at the library except for the ones with little maple leafs taped to the spine. They were always so dreadful. Humourless. Dull. Boring characters. Meandering plot lines. And dialogs like the skins of rotted fish.

I rather like Canada, my adopted home. And the people I know are interesting and great people. They deserve better representation than what they’re receiving from the current crop of “Canadian” authors.


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