Books

10 Canadian short story collections to read for Short Story Month

May is Short Story Month. Celebrate by checking out one of these great Canadian collections.

May is Short Story Month. Celebrate by checking out one of these great Canadian collections.

Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis

Immigrant City is a short story collection by David Bezmozgis. (HarperCollins Canada)

In David Bezmozgis's short story collection Immigrant City, a wannabe boxer finds work as a security guard in the Toronto suburbs, a father and daughter end up in a strange rendition of his immigrant childhood and a young man unwittingly makes contact with the underworld. Immigrant City was shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Born in Latvia, Bezmozgis lives in Toronto. He is also the author of the novel The Betrayers and The Free Worldboth of which were also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2014 and 2011 respectively. 

Giller-nominated author David Bezmozgis talks to Shelagh Rogers about his latest novel, Immigrant City. 15:04

Season of Fury and Wonder by Sharon Butala

Season of Fury and Wonder is a short story collection by Sharon Butala. (Coteau Books)

Season of Fury and Wonder tells the stories of contemporary women in the winter of their lives. Each story is inspired by or is a tribute to a short story by literature's most celebrated writers, including Flannery O'Conner, Shirley Jackson, Anton Chekhov and Raymond Carver.

Season of Fury and Wonder was on the 2019 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist.

Sharon Butala is the author of 20 books. She has been nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award three times — in 1985 for the short fiction collection Queen of the Headaches, in 1994 for nonfiction workThe Perfection of the Morning and in 2017 for the memoir Where I Live Now.

Sharon Butala talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, Season of Fury and Wonder 18:29

The End of Me by John Gould

The End of Me is a book by John Gould. (Freehand Books, Sandy Mayzel)

The End of Me contains 56 "very short" stories about mortality. John Gould captures moments of ecstasy and vulnerability as characters come into contact with the inevitable. An astronaut strikes up a friendship with a cat, kids throw plums at a funeral procession and a woman has dreams of a new age of extinction across these tales of fate.

Gould is a writer mostly of short stories. Kilter, a collection of short stories, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2003.

Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough

Dominoes at the Crossroads is a novel by Kaie Kellough. (Pablo Riquelme, Esplanade Books)

In this collection of stories, Dominoes at the CrossroadsKaie Kellough navigates Canada's Caribbean diaspora, as they seek music and a connection to their past. Through a broad cast of characters — including jazz musicians, hitchhikers, suburbanites, student radicals, secret agents, historians and their fugitive slave ancestors — Kellough stretches the stories from Montreal's Old Port to as far as the South American rainforests. 

Kellough is a writer based in Montreal. His novel Accordéon was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2017. He is also the author of the poetry collection Magnetic Equator, which won the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Kaie Kellough is an award-winning Canadian poet and novelist. As of this week, he's also one of the winners of the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. Kellough joined Tom Power over Zoom from his home in Montreal to talk about his winning collection of poetry, Magnetic Equator, and what it means to write about a home you've been separated from. 8:08

You Are Not What We Expected by Sidura Ludwig

You Are Not What We Expected is a short story collection by Sidura Ludwig. (Astoria/House of Anansi)

You Are Not What We Expected is a linked short story collection that covers a Jewish family and their community in Thornhill, Ont., over 15 years. When Isaac moves back to Thornhill from Los Angeles, he becomes entangled in more family and neighborhood drama than he could have ever imagined, but also develops relationships that change everything.

Sidura Ludwig is a fiction writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the novel Holding My Breath.

Author Sidura Ludwig in conversation with guest host Saroja Coelho about her new book that tells the stories of the characters who live in Thornhill - a suburb north of Toronto. 12:49

Shut Up You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji

Shut Up You're Pretty is a book by Téa Mutonji. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Sandro Pehar)

Shut Up You're Pretty is a short fiction collection that tells stories of young women coming of age in the 21st century. Mutonji's characters include a young woman who shaves her head in an abortion clinic waiting room, a mother and daughter who bond over fish and a teenager seeking happiness with her pack of cigarettes.

Shut Up You're Pretty was on the 2019 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist

CBC Books named Mutonji a writer to watch in 2019Shut Up You're Pretty is her first book. She lives in Scarborough, Ont.

Téa Mutonji talks to Shelagh Rogers about her Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize nominated novel, Shut Up You're Pretty. 17:00

Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain is a short story collection by Zalika Reid-Benta. (House of Anansi Press)

Frying Plantain follows Kara Davis through elementary school to her high school graduation, as she comes of age while being perennially caught between her Canadian nationality and Jamaican heritage. Over a series of 12 stories, Davis visits her great aunt in Jamaica, endures a cruel prank by close friends and deals with her stubborn grandparents. 

Frying Plantain was longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Reid-Benta is a graduate of Columbia's MFA program and was named a writer to watch by George Elliott ClarkeFrying Plantain is Reid-Benta's first book. CBC Books named Reid-Benta a writer to watch in 2019

Frying Plantain author Zalika Reid-Benta discusses her collection of short stories. 8:58

Guestbook: Ghost Stories by Leanne Shapton

Guest Book is a book by Leanne Shapton. (Robbie Lawrence/Penguin Random House Canada)

Guestbook: Ghost Stories collects over two dozen short stories, vignettes and images from visual artist Leanne Shapton, who explores the uncanny experience of being haunted. Her characters include a tennis player who attributes his successes to an invisible entity, ghosts who visit their old beds and a woman who leaves Alcatraz with a peculiar feeling.

Shapton is an artist and author originally from Toronto, but now based in New York. Her previous books include the memoir Swimming Studies, the comic Was She Pretty? and the art project Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry. 

The artist and author talks to Eleanor Wachtel about her evocative new work, Guestbook: Ghost Stories, and how the stuff of everyday life inspires her uniquely creative vision. 57:13

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

How to Pronounce Knife is a novel by Souvankham Thammavongsa. (Sarah Bodri, McClelland & Stewart)

How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of idiosyncratic and diverse stories. Capturing the daily lives of immigrants, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures their hopes, disappointments, trauma and acts of defiance, from a young man painting nails in a salon, to a housewife learning English from soap-operas.

Thammavongsa is a writer and poet. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper'sGrantaThe Paris Review and NOON. She has published four books of poetry, including 2019's Cluster

Our books columnist Jael Richardson is back with a new recommendation for something to read while in self-isolation. Her pick is Souvankham Thammavongsa’s collection of short stories, How to Pronounce Knife. 7:33

Moccasin Square Gardens by Richard Van Camp

Moccasin Square Gardens is a short story collection by Richard Van Camp. (Douglas & McIntyre, Laughing Dog Photography)

Moccasin Square Gardens is a collection of humorous short fiction set in Denendeh, the land of the people north of the 60th parallel. Richard Van Camp's stories involve extraterrestrials, illegal wrestling moves and the legendary Wheetago, human-eating monsters who have come to punish the greed of humanity. 

Van Camp is a prolific novelist, comic writer and children's book writer whose work includes The Lesser BlessedA Blanket of Butterflies and Little You.

Richard Van Camp talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book Moccasin Square Gardens: Short Stories. 16:56

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