It's not yet available in Canada, but you can get a piece of it in UK - Fake Taxi.

THE ENGLISH PATIENT, Ralph Fiennes, 1996, making notations in desert

The English Patient’s Effect on Canada

Female Canadian Writers

If you are as old as I am, you probably have at least heard of the movie The English Patient, if you have not read the book. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, won nine Academy Awards in 1996, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director. So regardless of whether you have heard of the book, you should at least be vaguely aware of the award-winning movie. What you may not know, now that you have discovered that it was a book first, was that the author of the book is actually a Canadian. Surprised?

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon, which is modern day Sri Lanka, in 1943, but he immigrated to Canada and became a citizen in 1962. It was here that he went to university, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Toronto and a Master’s of Arts from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

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Ondaatje is more than just an author, but was actually a poet first, having published 13 books of poetry. He won the Governor General’s Award for The Collected Works of Billy the Kid in 1970 as well as There’s a Trick With a Knife I’m Learning to Do: Poems 1973-1978, which was published in 1979. He has won many awards through the years, further proving his place among the greatest writers in Canadian history.

The English Patient

In 1992, Ondaatje’s book, The English Patient was published by McClelland and Steward. The book is so titled because the primary character initially does not reveal his story, but speaks English with an accent. Ondaatje set the book in an Italian villa during the Italian Campaign in World War II.

The book brings together several characters who seem to have nothing in common, except that they are all stuck in a villa together. With that, readers are exposed to the history of the North Afracan Campaign as well as different nationalities placed together. The main character, Count Ladislaus de Almàsy is based off of the real LàszlóAlmásy, though the fictional version is more likable. The story also brings a Canadian nurse with a Sikh, a thief, and a mapper, all with very different backgrounds and personal histories to how they wound up together in the villa.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction

The Man Book Prize is a literary aware that is given out each year for an English-language book that is original and published in the UK. The award is prestigious. Any book that wins the award is guaranteed to be an international best seller. While the award as originally only available to citizens of a British Commonwealth or territory, the rules on that were changed in 2013, denoting that anyone can win the award as long as the book was published in English.

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When Ondaatje won the award in 1992 for The English Patient, he became the first Canadian author in the history of the award to win it. That was when Canadian literature really put itself on the map.

Fallout

Before The English Patient won the Booker Award, Canadian literature did not really exist by itself in the world of literature. Canadian authors would automatically be tied to either Britain or America, leaving out the country’s own heritage and place in the literary world. Once The English Patient grabbed its success, Canada was on the map for the first time. Canadian literature was suddenly being defined as its own genre that had little to do with its neighbors or any other culture’s books. And while Canadian literature may be confused with American literature sometimes, based on the win of the Booker award, Canada can hold its own just fine.

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Famous Female Canadian Writers

Female Canadian Writers

While it feels like we have been fighting for women’s rights for a millennia, women are still left out in a lot of lists. For whatever reason, women are considered to be generally less popular writers than men, and it seems entirely based on the sexism associated with the name. This is why authors like JK Rowling have to invent middle names to make their name seem androgynist. Well I may not be able to fix that issue, I will fight for the rights of women to have their place in the world. Well in my case, it’s the literary world. Canadian women writers need to be announced for their greatness, not shoved at the end of a list of books without any really good readers.

On Silence-Rewriting a country toward a just and peaceful Canada.
On Silence-Rewriting a country toward a just and peaceful Canada.

Canada is more progressive than the United States in the world of feminism, though female writers do not seem to garner the same amount of attention as their male counterparts. Even recently, the Canadian Prime Minister stated how important it is for both men and women to empower women to be successful and know that they can do anything they set their minds to. This includes the world of literature. Even if women writers follow different themes than men often do, they still represent half of the population, which includes half of the population of readers too. So we need to celebrate women writers and acknowledge their power and importance in the arts.

This is a place to celebrate all of the Canadian female authors. Here is a good list of the greatest ladies out there.

  1. Margaret Atwood: Hands down, not just the most famous female writer from Canada, but most famous writer period from Canada. Her writing style has evolved through the years, but still contain that Canadian element. She is not just restricted to fiction, but has dabbled in dystopia, memoir, and even science fiction. She has written many famous books, including A Handmaiden’s Tale.
  2. Alice Munro: Alice Munro is one of the most famous short story writers of our time. Her tales always involve a sort of revelation as her characters search for a deeper meaning. She also has a tendency for exploring gender themes. Her collection of short stories is called Dear Life.

Alice-Munro14113.  Miriam Toews: Miriam Toews likes to put her own life into her books, including her coming of age element that is included in her most famous works. Her style has been noteworthy for its directness and fearlessness, including details that may put other off, but works well in her works. Her most notable work is A Complicated Kindness, a coming of age book about a 16 year-old girl.

4.  Emma Donoghue: Emma Donoghue includes a lot of history and multiculturalism in her works, bringing empathy to characters that the general Canadian population may not otherwise be able to relate to or understand. There is a lot of reality to her works since they have actual events included in the books. Donoghue most recently rose to prominence due to her book Room which was turned into a Hollywood movie that won in the category of Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Oscars in 2016. The role was played by Brie Larson.

5.  M. Montgomery: While L.M. Montgomery has since passed away, she was a famous Canadian children’s book author. Her most famous work was Anne of Green Gables, which has been loved by girls across generations as we follow the story of an orphan girl who is sent to a family who wanted a boy orphan to help with the farm. Her books are still very much beloved by children of today, filling in the gap of loneliness that too often accompanies childhood.

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Top Books of Immigrant Canadian Fiction

Female Canadian Writers

Canada is not unlike the United States in the realm of immigration. While the amount of immigrants and origins of them may be different, it is often dismissed that Canada has had a lot of immigrants in its history from places around the world. Immigrant literature should be celebrated in Canada. The works from Canadian immigrants provide an entirely different perspective on Canada than you will get from some of the other most famous authors in Canada. This is because the authors bring with them an entirely different experience and exposure. The result provides a rich literary history for Canada.

  1. The Life of Pi: Yann Martel’s hit was a perfect example of immigrant literature. The story of Pi, the main character is long and harrowing, at the end of the book, the character is welcomed to Canada where he is able to lie out the rest of his life, leaving his origins in the past of the fantastic journey that he had experienced.

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2. The English Patient: The title of this book is misleading as the character is not English and the story is not set in England. But the themes of love, betrayal, addiction, and loss are very poignant with this book, which was written by an immigrant from Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje.

3. The Stone Diaries:American-born Carol Shields won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995 for her novel The Stone Diaries. She also won the Governor General’s Award. The story is a fictional autobiography of a character named Daisy Goodwill Fleet who has a life full of struggle after struggle. Shields is unique in that she was able to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the Governor General’s award because she is American-born, but a naturalized citizen of Canada.

4. Green Grass, Running Water:Author Thomas King has a very diverse ethnicity. While he is American-born, he is of Greek, German, and Cherokee descent and also an immigrant to Canada. His book is set in the First Nations Blackfoot community in Alberta. It is well-written with a mix of unique structure and narrative. King also mixed humor regarding the beliefs of Judeo-Christian communities and western society as a whole. It is really an essential read if you would like to get a good grasp on the issues that Native Canadians face.

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5. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town: A series of stories by British-born Stephen Leacock, the book is set on Mariposa, which is a small shore town. The characters stories all intertwine, showing how the quaint countryside has a lot over overlap in narrative. The book is still popular, despite its age. All of the characters are typical small-town archetypes.

6. Shake Hands with the Devil: This is a work of nonfiction written by Dutch-born Romeo Dallaire. Dallaire is a well-known Canadian figurehead, having an active role in the Canadian government as well as a strong humanitarian. Dallaire’s life passion involves the crimes committed the Rwandan Genocide, which he has documented in many works while he has spoken out against the human rights issues that have been a constant struggle in modern day Africa.

7. The Assassin’s Song: Written by Kenya-born M. G. Vassanji. The Assassin’s Song follows the story of a young Indian boy who wants to escape from his family’s religious legacy. He wants to be like other Indian kids where he can make his own choices for what he gets to do in his life, like playing cricket, going to school, and talking to girls. He attempts to escape from the imprint his family has put upon him by immigrating to Canada, where he tries to start his life over. The novel won a lot of awards, combining struggles of coming of age, religious binds, and overcoming the power of an overbearing family.

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Top Books of Immigrant Canadian Fiction

Female Canadian WritersInfluential Canadian Authors

Canada is not unlike the United States in the realm of immigration. While the amount of immigrants and origins of them may be different, it is often dismissed that Canada has had a lot of immigrants in its history from places around the world. Immigrant literature should be celebrated in Canada. The works from Canadian immigrants provide an entirely different perspective on Canada than you will get from some of the other most famous authors in Canada. This is because the authors bring with them an entirely different experience and exposure. The result provides a rich literary history for Canada.

  1. The Life of Pi: Yann Martel’s hit was a perfect example of immigrant literature. The story of Pi, the main character is long and harrowing, at the end of the book, the character is welcomed to Canada where he is able to lie out the rest of his life, leaving his origins in the past of the fantastic journey that he had experienced.

Life of Pi

2. The English Patient: The title of this book is misleading as the character is not English and the story is not set in England. But the themes of love, betrayal, addiction, and loss are very poignant with this book, which was written by an immigrant from Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje.

3. The Stone Diaries:American-born Carol Shields won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995 for her novel The Stone Diaries. She also won the Governor General’s Award. The story is a fictional autobiography of a character named Daisy Goodwill Fleet who has a life full of struggle after struggle. Shields is unique in that she was able to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the Governor General’s award because she is American-born, but a naturalized citizen of Canada.

4. Green Grass, Running Water:Author Thomas King has a very diverse ethnicity. While he is American-born, he is of Greek, German, and Cherokee descent and also an immigrant to Canada. His book is set in the First Nations Blackfoot community in Alberta. It is well-written with a mix of unique structure and narrative. King also mixed humor regarding the beliefs of Judeo-Christian communities and western society as a whole. It is really an essential read if you would like to get a good grasp on the issues that Native Canadians face.

5. Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town: A series of stories by British-born Stephen Leacock, the book is set on Mariposa, which is a small shore town. The characters stories all intertwine, showing how the quaint countryside has a lot over overlap in narrative. The book is still popular, despite its age. All of the characters are typical small-town archetypes.

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6. Shake Hands with the Devil: This is a work of nonfiction written by Dutch-born Romeo Dallaire. Dallaire is a well-known Canadian figurehead, having an active role in the Canadian government as well as a strong humanitarian. Dallaire’s life passion involves the crimes committed the Rwandan Genocide, which he has documented in many works while he has spoken out against the human rights issues that have been a constant struggle in modern day Africa.

7. The Assassin’s Song: Written by Kenya-born M. G. Vassanji. The Assassin’s Song follows the story of a young Indian boy who wants to escape from his family’s religious legacy. He wants to be like other Indian kids where he can make his own choices for what he gets to do in his life, like playing cricket, going to school, and talking to girls. He attempts to escape from the imprint his family has put upon him by immigrating to Canada, where he tries to start his life over. The novel won a lot of awards, combining struggles of coming of age, religious binds, and overcoming the power of an overbearing family.

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Why We Built This Page

I may not be a native Canadian, but as I’ve been teaching her at the University of Montana for many years now, I feel like I have a good handle on it. In a way, I feel like a Canadian just because of all of my research on Canadian culture and literature, even if it’s only pretend.More.....