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Carmen Aguirre wins CBC Canada Reads

Carmen Aguirre came out victorious at this year’s CBC Canada Reads. The B.C.-based author and playwright’s memoir, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter (Douglas & McIntyre), about growing up in the underground among South American revolutionaries during the 1970s, beat out Ken Dryden’s The Game (Wiley Canada), the former Habs goalie’s recollections of pro hockey and a very different version of the ’70s.

Something Fierce defender Shad had his work cut out for him, winning three votes to two against The Game’s champion, Alan Thicke, Thursday morning at the CBC studios in Toronto. The hip-hop artist was backed by Arlene Dickinson and Anne-France Goldwater (one of the rare instances when these two panelists agreed), while Thicke was seconded by Stacey McKenzie. The final showdown proved to be one of the tamest panels yet in a contest that included allegations of lying, bullying, terrorism, and lots of tears (we’re looking at you, Stacey).

Aguirre, who is currently touring her one-woman show, Blue Box, called into the studio from Ottawa after she heard the news. It was a very interesting week for me because I’m alone in Ottawa right now,” she said. “I’d had to go every night to do my 80-minute monologue and then not sleep at night because I was waiting to see what will happen the next morning, but I’ve had a lot of virtual support.

The Game and Something Fierce (a Q&Q Book of the Year for 2011), were the last titles standing after one by one panelists voted off Dave Bidini’s On a Cold Road (McClelland & Stewart), John Vaillant’s The Tiger (Vintage Canada), and Marina Nemat’s Prisoner of Tehran (Penguin Canada).

D&M is preparing for the expected increase in sales, often referred to as the “Canada Reads effect,” with a reprint of the book. As part of its participation in the contest, the publisher will make a financial donation to Frontier College’s Aboriginal Literacy Program.

Something Fierce will be released in the U.S. in August.