Richard Wagamese and his novel Indian Horse might have been knocked out of the annual book debate Canada Reads, but the contest has already had its benefits.
“It’s only marginally disappointing,” Wagamese said Wednesday. “You go in with the best expectations and anything can happen, especially in a competition that’s set up like that.
Indian Horse was eliminated on the Wednesday edition of Canada Reads on the CBC.
The book represented the B.C. and Yukon region in the contest. Olympic wrestler Carol Huynh put up a strong defence of the book. In the end, two panellists voted it off while two others stood against the Lisa Moore novel February.
Newfoundland comedian Trent McClellan, who is defending Moore's book, cast the deciding vote and favoured his own novel.
Wagamese said panellist Charlotte Gray didn’t “get” Indian Horse, a tale about the legacy of residential schools as seen through one man’s eyes. That essentially halted his chance of advancing to the next round.
But being part of a contest like Canada Reads gave Wagamese and his book national exposure. He said this will pay off when his next novel, Medicine Walk, is released next year.
“It means the new novel will have a far better reception because of name recognition as a result of Canada Reads. That’s a real positive,” said Wagamese.
As a writer, there’s nothing more beneficial than having thousands of people read your book, he said, which is what Canada Reads did for Indian Horse.
“Even though I am finished with it, that’s the case — thousands of people not only read the novel, but supported it,” said Wagamese.
Still in contention are Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan and Moore’s February. Two Solitudes represents Quebec, while February stands for Atlantic Canada.