Poll: What CanLit should CBC tackle next?

The Book of Negroes was a stunning success for CBC, getting 1.4 million viewers to tune in to the mini-series adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s critically acclaimed novel. Last year’s Best Laid Plans, based on Terry Fallis’ book, was less of a ratings winner, but did just earn star Jonas Chernick a Canadian Screen Award. Some of my favourite television memories involve Anne of Green Gables and other shows based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s imagination.

Since The Book of Negroes 2 is unlikely, and the Canadian industry was scooped on Life of Pi, what work of Canadian literature do you think CBC should adapt next?  There’s too much to choose from for a multiple choice poll, so put your suggestions in the comments … and may the best book win.



32 thoughts on “Poll: What CanLit should CBC tackle next?”

  1. COPPERMINE by Keith Ross Leckie.

    A must. And a true story. And written by a screenwriter.

    1. Coppermine gets a vote from me too. An excellent book and a fascinating story. I must say they got their criminal trials over and done with in short order in the olden days.

  2. There’s so much great CanLit I’d love to see– I would be right there for a version of SOLOMON GURSKY WAS HERE.

    I’d also love to see an adaptation of Half Blood Blues, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Fugitive Pieces, No Great Mischief, Three Day Road…

    …and THEN maybe Gary’s book. But boy howdy, it would be wonderful to see all those others…firstish.

    1. Serendipity Point had Solomon Gursky for awhile. I think someone does have Three Day Road, too.

  3. Agree with Denis re: Three Day Road and Half Blood Blues and SW re: Coppermine. That was a fantastic book.
    The John Cardinal books by Giles Blunt would be great; I heard those were in development at one point but not sure if that’s still the case.
    I liked CBC’s take on Louise Penny’s Still Life and wish they’d make more. Nathaniel Parker was very good as Gamache.

  4. Another vote for “The Colony of Unrequited Dreams” but you can’t beat “Bear” for huge ratings.

  5. There is so much to choose from but Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance is one of my favourite books. I’m not sure if that means I should want an adaptation or fear one, though.

    1. Perhaps a bit off point for a TV website, but A Fine Balance was adapted for a nice CBC radio series a few years ago. And there was a film adaptation of Such a Long Journey (a piece like this just reminds me how many books have been adapted over the years — but often slip under the radar)

  6. Perhaps an interesting variation of the question might be: what Canadian novel would MAKE a good movie? There have been a lot of Can-Lit adaptations over the years, and they often don’t do well commercially, nor even critically sometimes. Atwood, Richler, Shields, etc. have all been adapted. Sometimes the adaptation isn’t very good (I believe Atwood fans in particular have been frustrated by films of her work) but sometimes it is a faithful adaptation…but still doesn’t necessarily make for a great viewing. A novel that’s too introspective might not make a good leap to film (since film is by necessity driven by dialogue and events), likewise a rambling, episodic story works in a novel (where you read it in chapters) but in a movie/mini-series it helps to have a strong narrative thread that is pushing the story forward. The Book of Negroes was well-done, but it also had a dramatic, sweeping story and a strong, pro-active protagonist.
    Just curious whether other people agree there can be a distinction between a great novel you love – and one that would make a great dramatization?

  7. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. It’s not very Canadian but he is, and it’s a great story and characters.

  8. So many wonderful suggestions have been made already.

    My suggestions are:

    * Any of Miriam Toews’ novels would make great adaptations – in particular, I would love to see All My Puny Sorrows, A Complicated Kindness, or A Boy of good Breeding.

    * Elizabeth Hay’s Late Nights on Air could be wonderful!

    * Annabel, by Kathleen Winter – wonderful story, amazing settings.

    * Galore, by Michael Crummey. I love this novel so much and it could be a brilliant TV series.

    1. Oh, I second all of these (except I haven’t read Annabel yet). Also anything by Ann-Marie MacDonald (less so Adult Onset but I’d take it).

      1. :) Annabel is so good! I hope you can read it soon, and that you will love it, Diane.

        Oh, yes! Fall On Your Knees could be great. I agree with the ‘less so’ for Adult Onset (and same with The Way the Crow Flies too).

        And I just thought about Ami McKay’s The Birth House – that could be a great adaptation!

        So I guess I am saying ALL THE BOOKS! Haha. We have so many fantastic writers and they are creating works that, with the right people, could really be awesome adaptations, whether for TV or movies.

        I wonder if they will continue with Louise Penney’s Chief Inspector Gamache series? That seems to have faded away.

        1. Ha – I know, it’s so hard to narrow down. Greg mentioned the Louise Penny books too – I haven’t heard that they’re making any more.

          (I love your site by the way and might just join the CBC books group on Goodreads :) )

  9. I would love to see a mini-series about Emily Carr based on her autobiographical books Book of Small, House of All Sorts, Klee Wyck, Growing Pains and Hundreds and Thousands. I have read those books so many times and find her stories fascinating. When I first read this article I was ready to write a whole list of books but as I’ve probably read a 1000 books I can’t remember a great deal of the titles or authors, not to mention which ones were Canadian. I like the idea of the CBC doing a miniseries based on Canadian history and I liked that it was a fictional character living in a certain time period going through actual events of the times. I think the best approach would be to select a particular historical event/period and look through novels taking place at that time to select a project. I would like maybe a miniseries based on the fur trade and one book I can recall really liking was A Breed Apart by Tony German. Another series I really enjoyed was The Canadians by Robert E. Wall. More recently, a couple autobiographical books I’ve read that I really enjoyed were I Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby, a former Hutterite and Jean Pare: An Appetite for Life, about the authour of the Company’s Coming cookbooks.

  10. CBC should partner with “Canada’s History” magazine, with Paul Grosse as Director, the infinite wealth of stories in that magazine could not possibly be all done in less than 200 years, thus keeping everybody in Canada busy for a very long time to come.

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