By Rachel Muenz
Canada has often been criticized for being too snobby about its writing.
William Deverell recently wrote in the National Post that in Canada “there is a push to reward insipid stuff that will never sell” and Canadian publishing is suffering because of this.
I partly agree.
Though I’ve liked most Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award winners I’ve read, they usually aren’t packed with thrills and excitement. If they hadn’t won awards, I probably wouldn’t have bought them in the first place unless someone told me they were really good.
But this doesn’t mean that Canada should break out the awards for anything that sells well.
Canadian schools, libraries, and literary awards should choose books that both entertain readers and change them through the themes and techniques the books use to tell their stories.
There’s not much point in rewarding beautifully-written, thought-provoking books that people find too boring or difficult to read. A book’s message will never make an impact if only three people read it.
Yet, books that are just dumb entertainment without getting readers thinking shouldn’t be pushed either even if they do make big money. Canadian popular fiction writers should only be honoured if they also give their readers something meaningful to think about and debate.
Along with excellent storytelling and entertainment, good writing should always be important as well.
It wouldn’t be fair to writers who spend hours perfecting every sentence to give the Giller Prize or Governor General’s Award for a book that sells millions but is badly-written. Crappy writing should never be encouraged.
Yes, Canada needs to open its heart to popular fiction, but not too wide.
– with files from the National Post