> Zed Book Club / Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Princess Elizabeth enjoys some light reading at Windsor Castle on July 8, 1946. Photo: Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Getty Images

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Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list. / BY Andrew Wright / April 21st, 2022


For book worms, one particular commemoration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee might catch their eye above all others.

BBC Arts and The Reading Agency are celebrating the Queen’s 70th year on the throne with the Big Jubilee Read, a list of 70 novels, short story anthologies and poetry collections published in the Commonwealth during the Queen’s reign.

For the list, an expert panel of librarians, booksellers and literature experts selected ten books for each of the seven decades that reflect “the shared stories that define our social and cultural heritage.”

“Spanning 31 countries and six continents, this truly international collection is a fitting tribute to the most widely travelled monarch in history,” the BBC said of the list.

Included on the list are six Canadian titles. They are the Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro’s short story collection Who Do You Think You Are (1978), Margaret Atwood’s Governor General’s Award-winning novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Michael Ondaatje’s Golden Man Booker Prize-winning novel The English Patient (1992), the Pulitzer-Prize and Governor General’s Award-winning The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1993), the Giller Prize-winning A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (1995) and Yann Martel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi (2001).

Among perceived snubs that failed to make the list was JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (1955), a novel which many credit for the resurgence of the fantasy genre and earned the late writer the title as the father of modern fantasy.

As well, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, another staple of the genre — which, at 500 million books sold, is the best-selling book series of all time — was also left off the list.

Susheila Nasta, the emeritus professor of modern and contemporary literature at Queen Mary University of London, explained to BBC Radio 4 that after a long discussion, the panel decided that the Harry Potter series “was primarily a children’s book.”

“In terms of the space over that decade, which was the ’90s when more and more books were coming out across the Commonwealth, it was decided to make space for a book that was good and equally well received,” she added.

In a press release, The Reading Agency explained that the list was not only about celebrating great books, but also about shining a “spotlight on lesser-known books and authors that deserve recognition.”

See the full Big Jubilee Read list below:

1952-1961

The Palm-Wine Drinkard, by Amos Tutuola (1952, Nigeria)

The Hills Were Joyful Together, by Roger Mais (1953, Jamaica)

In the Castle of My Skin, by George Lamming (1953, Barbados)

My Bones and My Flute, by Edgar Mittelholzer (1955, Guyana)

The Lonely Londoners, by Sam Selvon (1956, Trinidad and Tobago/England)

The Guide, by R. K. Narayan (1958, India)

To Sir, With Love, by E. R. Braithwaite (1959, Guyana)

One Moonlit Night, by Caradog Prichard (1961, Wales)

A House for Mr Biswas, by VS Naipaul (1961, Trinidad and Tobago/England)

Sunlight on a Broken Column, by Attia Hosain (1961, India)

 

1962-1971

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (1962, England)

The Interrogation, by J.M.G. Le Clézio (1963, France/Mauritius)

The Girls of Slender Means, by Muriel Spark (1963, Scotland)

Arrow of God, by Chinua Achebe (1964, Nigeria)

Death of a Naturalist, by Seamus Heaney (1966, Northern Ireland)

Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys (1966, Dominica/Wales)

A Grain of Wheat, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1967, Kenya)

Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay (1967, Australia)

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, by Ayi Kwei Armah (1968, Ghana)

When Rain Clouds Gather, by Bessie Head (1968, Botswana/South Africa)

 

1972-1981

The Nowhere Man, by Kamala Markandaya (1972, India)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, by John Le Carré (1974, England)

The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough (1977, Australia)

The Crow Eaters, by Bapsi Sidhwa (1978, Pakistan)

The Sea, The Sea, by Iris Murdoch (1978, England)

Who Do You think You Are?, by Alice Munro (1978, Canada)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (1979, England)

Tsotsi, by Athol Fugard (1980, South Africa)

Clear Light of Day, by Anita Desai (1980, India)

Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie (1981, England/India)

 

1982-1991

Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally (1982, Australia)

Beka Lamb, by Zee Edgell (1982, Belize)

The Bone People, by Keri Hulme (1984, New Zealand)

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1985, Canada)

Summer Lightning, by Olive Senior (1986, Jamaica)

The Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera (1987, New Zealand)

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989, England)

Omeros, by Derek Walcott (1990, Saint Lucia)

The Adoption Papers, by Jackie Kay (1991, Scotland)

Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton (1991, Australia)

 

1992-2001

The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje (1992, Canada/Sri Lanka)

The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields (1993, Canada)

Paradise, by Abdulrazak Gurnah (1994, Tanzania/England)

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry (1995, India/Canada)

Salt, by Earl Lovelace (1996, Trinidad and Tobago)

The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy (1997, India)

The Blue Bedspread, by Raj Kamal Jha (1999, India)

Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee (1999, South Africa/Australia)

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (2000, England)

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (2001, Canada)

 

2002-2011

Small Island, by Andrea Levy (2004, England)

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (2005, Australia)

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (2005, Australia)

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006, Nigeria)

A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam (2007, Bangladesh)

The Boat, by Nam Le (2008, Australia)

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (2009, England)

The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James (2009, Jamaica)

The Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna (2010, Sierra Leone/Scotland)

Chinaman, by Shehan Karunatilaka (2010, Sri Lanka)

 

2012-2021

Our Lady of the Nile, by Scholastique Mukasonga (2012, Rwanda)

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (2013, New Zealand)

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue (2016, Cameroon)

The Bone Readers, by Jacob Ross (2016, Grenada)

How We Disappeared, by Jing-Jing Lee (2019, Singapore)

Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (2019, England)

The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo (2019, Malaysia)

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart (2020, Scotland)

A Passage North, by Anuk Arudpragasam (2021, Sri Lanka)

The Promise, by Damon Galgut (2021, South Africa)

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