November 24, 2010
Making the cut
By Janice Lee
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for University of Calgary graduate, Dr. Angie Abdou. Her 2007 novel, The Bone Cage, was named a Top 10 Novel of the Decade for Canada Reads, CBC Radio's annual book debate.
This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Canada Reads, organizers asked the public to vote for their Essential Canadian Novels of the Past Decade. Abdou’s The Bone Cage is nominated along with such acclaimed novels as Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Carol Shields’ Unless.
A fact that has left Abdou a little awestruck.
“Stunned disbelief? Inarticulate astonishment?” says Abdou. “The PR person from my college wanted to do an interview the morning of the announcement, but I had to defer—I could barely string a sentence together. It's still quite shocking.”
From the Top 10, five Canadian celebrities will choose five books, the merits of which will be debated in early 2011. The final five, and the celebrities who will defend each title, will be revealed Wednesday, Nov. 24 on CBC Radio One’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi.
The Bone Cage follows two Canadian athletes as they prepare for the Sydney Olympic Games. Sadie, a speed swimmer, and Digger, a wrestler, both train at the University of Calgary and both are old enough to realize that this Olympics will be their last. The novel explores the connection between body and identity and “the way that relationship must continually be renegotiated as the body changes,” says Abdou, herself a former varsity swimmer.
A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Abdou teaches at the College of the Rockies and calls Fernie, BC home. Her first book, a collection of short stories called Anything Boys Can Do, was published in 2006. The Bone Cage is her first novel and was chosen as the official book for the inaugural One Book, One Kootenay reading series and was included on Canadian Literature's All-Time Top Ten List of Best Canadian Sport Literature.
Her third book, The Canterbury Trail—a black comedy about mountain culture—was written as her dissertation project. It will be published this February by Brindle & Glass Press.
But for now, Abdou is looking forward to attending the Canada Reads gala in Toronto, where the final five books will be announced, on November 24.
“I wouldn't miss it,” says Abdou. “Really, I just want the chance to be in the same room as Lawrence Hill, Joseph Boyden and Yann Martel. I'll be the one running around, sneaking pictures and asking for autographs!”
For more information about Canada Reads, visit www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads.