When the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale (available on CraveTV starting July 28) hit the small screen this year, it created a tidal wave of online chatter that led to the first season earning an incredible 13 Emmy nominations.
Already renewed for a second season, Atwood’s dystopian novel focusing on the fictional Gilead feels alarmingly relevant in 2017. With so much excitement surrounding the incredible adaptation starring Elisabeth Moss and Samira Wiley, we began thinking about what other books by Canadian authors we would love to see on the small screen.
THE JADE PEONY
Author: Wayson Choy
There are a number of important themes explored in Wayson Choy’s beautiful 1995 Trillium Prize winning novel. Set in Vancouver in the 1930s and 1940s, it examines Canada’s treatment of Japanese citizens, as well as feelings of displacement and lack of identity for first-generation Chinese Canadians. Choy’s 2004 novel All That Matters is a sequel to The Jade Peony, providing more content for a possible TV series or limited series.
THE POLISHED HOE
Author: Austin Clarke
Austin Clarke’s critically and commercially praised The Polished Hoe took home the 2002 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2003 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Canada. The story is told over 24 hours and opens with Mary-Mathilda, a respected woman on the island of Barbados, admitting to the police that she has killed a sugar plantation owner who has been abusing her for years.
DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING
Author: Madeleine Thien
Madeleine Thien’s Scotiabank Giller Prize winning 2016 novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing shifts between two very different but connected worlds. Shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, the novel goes back and forth between a little girl named Marie living in Vancouver with her mother in 1991 and Ai-Ming, a woman who comes to live with Marie’s family after fleeing Tiananmen Square. The story focuses on one of the most turbulent times in China’s past, while revealing to Marie how she is connected to her culture while living half a world away from her native homeland.
Author: Emma Donoghue
Born and raised in Dublin and becoming a Canadian citizen in 2004, Emma Donoghue added ‘Oscar -nominee’ to her list of achievements in 2015 after adapting the screen play for her best selling novel Room. In 2016, Donoghue followed Room by again pulling readers into a new world in The Wonder. Set in an Irish village, The Wonder follows a nurse who is sent to investigate claims that a young girl has survived for months with no food. The book was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
A COMPLICATED KINDNESS
Author: Miriam Toews
Winner of the Governor General’s Award and a Giller Prize Finalist, Miriam Toews’s 2007 novel A Complicated Kindness continues the writers’ gift for visual storytelling. Set in the Mennonite area of East Village in Manitoba, 16-year-old protagonist Nomi has lost her mother and her sister and can’t think of anywhere else in the world she could loathe more than her hometown. Desperate to escape the conservative rule of the area, Nomi begins to rebel and finds herself at the bottom before gaining the courage to fight for the life she wants.
THE BLUE CASTLE
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Prolific East-Coaster Lucy Maud Montgomery didn’t live to see her many works of fiction turned into successful TV series, but her writing has helped shape both Canadian fiction and cinema for decades. Montgomery’s 1926 novel The Blue Castle focuses on 29 year-old Valancy, who rebels against her parent’s distrust of happiness. After being diagnosed with a terminal heart ailment, Valancy decides to strike out on her own and find happiness and colour wherever she can. The novel has been adapted as a stage production twice, with one version as a musical.
Author: Lawrence Hill
In 2015, Newmarket-born writer Lawrence Hill saw his 2007 novel The Book Of Negroes go from winning the Commonwealth Prize to becoming a six-part mini series. Hill’s latest book The Illegal was optioned for film before it’s release, but fans have yet to see the story of fictional marathon runner Keita Ali make it to either the big or small screen. Considering the huge success of both the book and TV series of The Book of Negroes, we would love to see The Illegal also make its way to the small screen.
THE WAY THE CROW FLIES
Author: Ann-Marie MacDonald
Toronto-based author, playwright and TV host Ann-Marie MacDonald was born on an air force base in Germany and spent most of her childhood in Canada. Taking inspiration from her formative years, as well as from the infamous Steven Truscott case, MacDonald wrote her 2003 novel The Way The Crow Flies. Set at a RCAF base in Ontario in the 1960s, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel follows nine-year-old Madeline, whose classmate is brutally murdered. Twenty-years later, Madeline revisits the case and finds it opening old wounds, with her suspicion growing that the police arrested the wrong person.
THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL
Author: Heather O’Neill
Montreal-based writer Heather O’Neill has made her hometown a main character in all her major novels, including her 2006 debut Lullabies For Little Criminals, which won Canada Reads in 2007 and was shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Governor General’s Award. With her latest novel, 2017’s The Lonely Hearts Hotel, O’Neill’s beautiful, macabre, poetic pen allows readers to immerse themselves in Depression-era Montreal, living vicariously through the eyes of two orphans who fall in love and share a gift for performing.
AFTER THE WAR
Author: Carol Matas
Winnipeg-based writer Carol Matas is an award-winning author of Young Adult books, with many of her novels set around the Jewish experience in World War II Germany. Matas has been nominated for the Governor General’s award twice, including for her 1997 novel After The War. The story centres on 15 year-old Ruth, the sole surviving member of her family to return to her hometown in Poland after the end of WWII. Met with disdain by her former neighbors, Ruth joins the underground resistance group ‘Brichah,’ helping to liberate a group of undocumented children to Eretz Isreal. Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Matas’ tale of young people embarking on dangerous journeys to find a peaceful home resonates all too well today.
Starting July 28, the groundbreaking first season of The Handmaid’s Tale will be available on CraveTV. Be sure to check out more amazing titles coming to CraveTV this month.