One of the greatest sources for hidden gems is my local library – specifically, their ebook offerings. I’ll often browse their ‘in-stock’ lists and download whatever looks interesting. That’s how I found King John of Canada, by Scott Gardiner.
Originally published in 2007, this book falls under one of my favourite genres: Canadian political satire. Here’s a bit of the Goodreads blurb about it:
This is a funny, biting political satire set in the not-too-distant future. A series of minority governments, and endless Quebec referendums (designed to lose narrowly, to keep the money coming) have left Canada almost ungovernable. When the Governor General resigns in disgrace and the House of Windsor implodes in London, a media baron launches the idea of a Canadian king or queen elected by lottery.
The premise sounds great. The execution? Not so much. It’s written as a long, meandering letter by King John’s closest friend, Blue. Blue is hiding out in a barely serviceable cabin in the middle of winter for unknown reasons. He often goes on tangents about his frigid experience, taking away from the narrative purpose of the letter. The resulting text is vague on specifics, resulting in King John sounding unreal and very two-dimensional. Any remaining cohesiveness breaks down further as the narrative jumps back and forth through the timeline.
Basically, it’s not the most entertaining read. At times it was downright frustrating. But, it did spark my interest in certain aspects of Canadian government; after finishing the book I found myself reading up online about the role of the Governor General, and sticky issues such as equalization payments for provinces. So, yay for learning more about how my country functions! For that reason, I’ll give the book at least a 2.5 out of 5.
On a related note: If you’re interested in some really well written Canadian political satire, check out Terry Fallis – you wont regret it!