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Making the cut

English_CR 11 Angie Abdou Georges Laraque w Jian.JPG

Dr. Angie Abdou's (PhD ’08 English) 2007 novel, The Bone Cage, has advanced from the top ten to the top five novels of the decade for Canada Reads, CBC Radio's annual book debate.

 This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Canada Reads, organizers asked the public to vote for their Essential Canadian Novels of the Past Decade. Abdou’s The Bone Cage is nominated along with such acclaimed novels as Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Carol Shields’ Unless.

A fact that has left Abdou a little awestruck.

“Stunned disbelief? Inarticulate astonishment?” says Abdou. “The PR person from my college wanted to do an interview the morning of the announcement, but I had to defer – I could barely string a sentence together. It's still quite shocking.”

Five Canadian celebrities chose five books from the original ten, the merits of which will be debated by the celebrities in early 2011. Social activist and retired NHL Hockey player Georges Laraque will defend The Bone Cage in the debate, which will be hosted by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio One on February 7, 8 and 9.

The Bone Cage follows two Canadian athletes as they prepare for the Sydney Olympic Games. Sadie, a speed swimmer, and Digger, a wrestler, both train at the University of Calgary and both are old enough to realize that this Olympics will be their last. The novel explores the connection between body and identity and “the way that relationship must continually be renegotiated as the body changes,” says Abdou, herself a former varsity swimmer.

A native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Abdou teaches at the College of the Rockies and makes her home in Fernie, BC. Her first book, a collection of short stories called Anything Boys Can Do, was published in 2006. The Bone Cage is her first novel and was chosen as the official book for the inaugural One Book, One Kootenay reading series and was included on Canadian Literature's All-Time Top Ten List of Best Canadian Sport Literature.

Her third book, The Canterbury Trail – a black comedy about mountain culture – was written as her dissertation project. It will be published this February by Brindle & Glass Press.

Abdou attended the Canada Reads gala in Toronto, where the final five books were announced, on November 24.

For more information about Canada Reads, go to