The Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award is best described as the “readers’ choice” of Canadian literary awards. Each year, a list of ten nominees is selected by a committee of librarians and in September library patrons from all across the province can vote on their favourite. The winner will be announced during Ontario Public Library Week in October. Past winners have included A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot, Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, and The Last Neanderthal by Clare Cameron.
As is usually the case, the 2021 Evergreen list features a well-rounded list of titles. Announced a couple of months ago, the list spans multiples genres, includes both fiction and non-fiction, and features diverse authors and perspectives. It is certainly a book list that is well-representative of what Canadian authors have to offer Canadian readers.
Broken Man on a Halifax Pier by Lesley Choyce follows Charles, a fifty-five year old unemployed journalist who has been swindled out of his life savings. While contemplating his dismal future he meets Ramona, whom he asks to drive him to his childhood home in Stewart Harbor on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. Once there his past begins catching up with him.
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good chronicles the desperate quest of five residential school survivors trying to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.
I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder by Sarah Kurchak is a memoir that discusses the detrimental effects of pretending to be normal. Kurchak, who is autistic, urges readers to embrace their quirks and redefine what is considered a successful life.
Indians on Vacation by Thomas King follows Bird and Mimi in their attempt to trace the steps of Mimi's long-lost uncle and the family medicine bundle he took with him to Europe. This novel by King, a CanLit master, is at once engaging, witty, and poignant.
The Library of Legends by Janie Chang is set in 1937 China, as Japanese bombs begin falling on the city of Nanking. Hu Lian and her classmates at Minghua University, entrusted with a priceless treasure, must navigate a world of danger, betrayal and love to keep a 500-year-old collection of myths and legends safe.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a modern take on the classic gothic suspense novel. It follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated (and creepy!) mansion.
Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote takes on the patriarchy and the political, as well as the intimate and the personal in these beguiling and revealing short stories about what it means to be trans and non-binary in the world today.
Seven by Farzana Doctor follows a woman who, in researching the life of her great- great- grandfather during a trip to India, stumbles upon family secrets that will shake her to the core.
The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole draws insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians through chronicling the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding.
They Said This Would be Fun by Eternity Martis is a candid memoir that discusses the difficulty the author faced navigating through white spaces (in this case Western University in London) as a student of colour.
All of these titles can be reserved in various formats from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries or online here. Remember, you only need to read one the titles to be eligible to vote on your favourite in September.
This article was originally published in The Napanee Beaver.