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Lisa Moore’s February wins CBC Canada Reads

On the 31st anniversary of the Ocean Ranger disaster, Lisa Moore’s February (House of Anansi Press) has won this year’s CBC Canada Reads.

February explores loss and moving on as experienced by Helen O’Mara, whose husband, Cal, was on the Ocean Ranger oil rig the day it sank.

Representing the Atlantic provinces in the “turf wars” and defended by Trent McClellan, the book beat Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes (McClelland & Stewart), which represented Quebec and was championed by Jay Baruchel.

In a recent interview about February, Trent McClellan told Q&Q: “When you read a good story, you’re looking for something that’s primal, something that resonates with you.” That logic ultimately won over fellow panelists Carol Huynh and Charlotte Gray, whose vote broke a tie between the books. Ron MacLean voted against February.

A surprised Moore called into the studio from Newfoundland to thank McClellan. “I have to say I wasn’t expecting this at all,” she said. “Thank you so much [Trent] for talking about the book exactly how you felt.… You were fantastic.” Moore also thanked the panelists for their “respectful, smart, passionate … and honest” discussions.

February and Two Solitudes were the final contenders after panelists voted off David Bergen’s Age of Hope (HarperCollins Canada) at the end of the first debate, followed by Jane Urquhart’s Away (McClelland & Stewart) and Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse (Douglas & McIntyre). The books represented the Prairies and the North, Ontario, and British Columbia and the Yukon, respectively.

In preparation for the spike in sales owing to the “Canada Reads effect,” Anansi is reprinting 20,000 copies of February and plans to hold events featuring Moore. As part of the competition, the publisher will also make a donation to Frontier College’s Aboriginal Literacy Program.

Anansi will publish Moore’s new novel, Caught, in June.

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