The Canadian nation emerges in the nineteenth century as a self‑willing effort at narrating itself. Literature plays an instrumental role in the creation of a system of cultural signification that, as Homi Bhabha points out in Nation and Narration, is by its nature ambivalent. This is even more so at present, when the always on‑going process of construction of a unified national identity is encumbered by the centrifugal forces of globalization, linked to the realities of neoliberal late capitalism and instant electronic communication, as well as to the subsequent increase of unfettered mobility, transnationalism, multi‑nationalism, and hybridity. This essay draws attention to the present moment as one of change marked by new relations between literature, culture, the state and the way Canadians imagine themselves as a nation in the era of neoliberal capitalist globalization. This moment of crisis, defined by social, economic, political and ideological insecurities calls for a re‑evaluation and re‑creation of the role of aesthetics and the humanities in the face of global disorder and the dwindling of national sovereignty. In the following pages I track a succession of key moments in the process of identity and cultural building in Canada before illustrating the shifts in the connection between national identity and the Canadian literary with the analysis of Will Ferguson’s Scotiabank Giller prizewinner novel 419 (2012).