18 Canadian women writers to read in 2018
CBC Books is highlighting 18 women writers in Canada you should read in 2018.
Terese Marie Mailhot
Terese Marie Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band in British Columbia. Her upcoming memoir, Heart Berries, is a poetic look at mental health, love, intergenerational trauma and growing up in her west coast First Nation community. Mailhot is a columnist and is part of the creative writing faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts, as well as the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University.
Chelene Knight grew up as the only mixed East Indian and Black child in her family during the 1980s and 1990s in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In her recent memoir, Dear Current Occupant, published in 2018, she writes a series of letters addressed to the current occupants of the homes she lived in as a kid. Growing up, her family lived in 20 different residences. In the book, she revisits each one as a way to make sense of her own past.
In her debut graphic novel, Queen Street, Emmanuelle Chateauneuf draws from her experiences as a second-generation Canadian to create a touching tale about a woman who leaves her job at a prestigious law firm in the Philippines for love, marriage and motherhood in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. While she deals with poor job prospects in the small town, only able to get gigs serving at Asian restaurants, her daughter struggles to fit in among the fair-haired, pale-skinned girls.
Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer based in Toronto. In 2014, her first novel, The Wondrous Woo, was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award. Her second, That Time I Loved You, explores life's challenge through the eyes of one young Canadian of Chinese descent living in 1970s Toronto.
Quebec artist Lorina Mapa first began illustrating early memories of her father after his sudden death. It was a form of therapy that evolved into her debut graphic memoir Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me. The book chronicles her coming of age in the Philippines as a new wave rock enthusiast and politically active teenager during the 1980s with the People Power Revolution as the backdrop.
Sharon Bala may have just published her debut novel, The Boat People, in January but she's been receiving praise for her growing body of work for a while now. The Boat People is about a group of Tamil refugees who arrive off the coast of British Columbia on a ship with the hopes of gaining asylum in Canada. Though fictional, it gives a sobering look into the tumultuous experiences of refugees in North America. The manuscript won the 2015 Percy Janes First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the 2015 NLCU Fresh Fish Award. Now it's a Canada Reads 2018 finalist.
Catherine Hernandez is a Canadian playwright. Her debut novel Scarborough, was shortlisted for the 2017 Toronto Book Awards. Set in a low-income urban neighborhood, the story follows three kids, who struggle to overcome poverty and abuse, and the community around them.
Carleigh Baker is a Cree-Métis and Icelandic writer whose debut short story collection Bad Endings was shortlisted for the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and won the City of Vancouver Book Award. In what began as a form of catharsis after her divorce, Bad Endings explores mental health, strained relationships and family dynamics through humour.
Kai Cheng Thom
In the last two years, writer and social worker Kai Cheng Thom has released a novel called Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir, which led to her winning the 2017 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers. That same year she published a children's book entitled From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea and released a book of poetry called a place called No Homeland.
Durga Chew-Bose is an essayist, from Montreal and based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in Hazlitt and The Guardian. In 2017, she became a published author with her collection of essays Too Much and Not the Mood, a poetic exploration of identity and culture.
Katherine Ashenburg may be an award-winning nonfiction author with various titles and newspaper columns under her name, but at 73, she's taking a foray into new territory — fiction. Her first novel, Sofie & Cecilia, explores the nuances of female friendship in adulthood.
Up and coming fiction writer S.K. Ali puts faith and devotion at the heart of her stories. Her debut YA novel, Saints and Misfits, longlisted for Canada Reads 2018, is about a teenage Muslim woman's struggle to understand how a trusted and prominent member of her religious community could commit assault.
Jennifer Houle is a New Brunswick poet. Her debut poetry collection, The Back Channels, explores building a meaningful life in a rapidly changing environment and culture. It won the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick's Alfred G. Bailey Prize for best poetry manuscript and the J.M. Abraham Poetry Award in 2017. Her writing has also appeared in various literary journals.
Canisia Lubrin is a St. Lucia-born poet, living in Canada. Her debut poetry collection, Voodoo Hypothesis, is informed by her experience growing up in the Caribbean and then moving away, along with the stories her grandmother would tell her as a child. It explores Black identity, displacement and colonialism.
Kate Harris is a Rhodes Scholar, explorer and writer published in The Walrus and Canadian Geographic. Harris travelled 10,000 km through 10 countries across the Silk Road with a friend. She wrote about it in her first book, Land of Lost Borders: A Journey of the Silk Road. During the 10-month journey, she explored the political, cultural and environmental history of the places and people she encountered.
Liz Howard is a Northern Ontario poet of Anishinaabe descent. Her debut collection of poetry Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry in 2015. In 2016, it won the Griffin Poetry Prize in the Canadian category. The collection, inspired by her upbringing in an isolated rural town, explores the demands of life in the contemporary world.
Eva Crocker of Newfoundland is a fiction writer and an editor at the arts and culture newspaper The Overcast. Her debut short story collection Barrelling Forward, was shortlisted for the 2015 NLCU Fresh Fish Award. In 2017, she was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers and won the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award. The book delves into the anxieties of new adulthood in the midst of economic uncertainty.
Djamila Ibrahim, an Ethiopian-born writer, moved to Canada in 1990. Her debut collection of short stories, Things Are Good Now, published in February 2018, delves into the migrant experience, the difficult choices newcomers often have to make and the weight that carries on the human psyche. Her various stories take place in East Africa, the Middle East, the United States and Canada.