18 writers to watch in 2018

The 2018 edition of CBC Books' annual writers to watch list is here. These standout authors are poised to make a mark on the literary scene.

The 2018 edition of CBC Books' annual writers to watch list is here. These 18 emerging authors are set to leave their mark on the literary scene. 

1. GG

GG, who hails from the Canadian Prairies, is the author and artist behind the graphic novel I'm Not Here. (Koyama Press)

GG is a an Alberta-based cartoonist whose first book, I'm Not Here, is a comic book memoir about​ a young, second-generation immigrant who wanders through her city, encountering the world through a camera's lens. Her independence is pulled by the gravity of familial responsibility. The book was shortlisted for the 2018 Doug Wright Award for best book.

2. Arif Anwar

The Storm is the debut novel of Toronto-based writer Arif Anwar. (HarperCollins/

Born in Bangladesh, Arif Anwar is an author based in Toronto. He has a PhD in education and turned to writing fiction as a way to highlight how social and economic issues affect people on a global scale. His debut novel, The Storm, was inspired by the 1970 Bhola cyclone and weaves together five interconnected stories, exploring love and emotion across 50 years of Bangladeshi history.

3. Billy-Ray Belcourt

Billy-Ray Belcourt is the author of the poetry collection This Wound Is A World. (Frontenac House)

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a Rhodes Scholar and PhD student  from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. His debut collection of poetry, This Wound is a World, is unapologetically Indigenous and queer at the same time. Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain without giving up on the future. The collection won the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize in 2018.

4. Paige Cooper

Zolitude is Paige Cooper's debut short story collection. (Adam Michaels/Biblioasis)

Paige Cooper is a writer from the Rocky Mountains who now lives in Montreal. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines, including Fiddlehead and Briar Patch. Her first book is the short story collection Zolitude, which tells stories about everything from monstrous creatures to Russian Spies. 

5. Camilla Grudova

Camilla Grudova is the author of the short story collection The Doll's Alphabet. (United Agents/Coach House Books)

Camilla Grudova is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut collection, The Doll's Alphabet, contains 13 surreal and unsettling stories that will make you uncomfortable, make you think and will leave you wanting more. The collection explores many feminist themes and echoes one of Canada's most established and beloved writers — Margaret Atwood.

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6. Kate Harris

Lands of Lost Borders is Kate Harris' first book. (Mel Yule/Penguin Random House Canada)

Kate Harris is a writer and explorer who was named one of Canada's top 10 adventurers by Canadian Geographic. A former Rhodes Scholar, Harris recounts her 10,000-kilometre cycling trip along the Silk Road in her memoir Lands of Lost Borders. During the trip, Harris crossed into 10 countries — including Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Tibet — and the book explores the political, cultural and environmental history of the places and people she encounters. 

7. David Huebert

In Peninsula Sinking, David Huebert brings readers an assortment of Maritimers caught between the places they love and the siren call of elsewhere. (Mike Kalimin/Biblioasis)

In 2016, David Huebert won the CBC Short Story Prize with the story Enigma. Boosted by that win, he went on to pen a collection of stories titled Peninsula Sinking, which imagines life in a time of environmental crisis, and includes Enigma. Huebert also won the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize.

8. Djamila Ibrahim

Djamila Ibrahim is the author of the short story collection Things Are Good Now. (Dana Jensen, House of Anansi)

Djamila Ibrahim is an Ethiopian-born writer who moved to Canada in 1990 and currently lives in Toronto. She recently changed careers from working for the federal government to pursue a career as a writer. Her debut work of short fiction, Things Are Good Now, examines themes of displacement, hardship and disillusionment.   

9. Aviaq Johnston

Aviaq Johnston is an Igloolik, Nunavut-based author. Her books include Those Who Run in the Sky and What's My Superpower? (Inhabit Media)

Aviaq Johnston is an Inuk author from Igloolik, Nunavut. In 2014, her short story Tarnikuluk earned her a Governor General's History Award. Her debut novel, Those Who Run in the Sky, is a coming-of-age story that follows a young shaman trapped in the spirit world. The book was a finalist for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

10. Michael Kaan

Michael Kaan is the author of The Water Beetles. (Goose Lane Editions/Leif Norman)

Michael Kaan is the author of The Water Beetles. The Winnipeg-born writer was inspired to write the book after reading his father's diaries about growing up during the Second World War. The Water Beetles won the 2018 First Novel Award. The novel begins with the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and follows a young boy who flees his family home, only to be captured by Japanese soldiers.

11. David Kingston Yeh

A Boy at the Edge of the World is David Kingston Yeh's first novel. (CBC)

David Kingston Yeh is a playwright and author. His debut novel, A Boy at the Edge of the World, follows Daniel Garneau, a gay hockey player who leaves his small hometown for university in Toronto. There, Daniel entangles himself in a love triangle — caught between his ex-boyfriend Marcus and a magnetic bike mechanic named David.

12. Chelene Knight

Chelene Knight is the author of Braided Skin and Dear Current Occupant. (BookThug/Greg Ehlers/

Chelene Knight is a Vancouver-based writer, editor and is the executive director of Word Vancouver. Knight's Dear Current Occupant mixes poetry and prose to tell a story about home and belonging, set in the 1980s and 1990s of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. 

13. Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is a writer and educator based in Toronto. (Sarah Couture McPhail/HarperCollins)

Fiction writer and educator Carrianne Leung draws much of her inspiration from her childhood in Toronto's east end. Her recent collection of interconnected stories, That Time I Loved You, is set in 1970s Scarborough and peels back the shiny veneer of civility. Leung is also the author of the YA novel The Wondrous Woo.

14. Hartley Lin

Hartley Lin has published comics under his pseudonym Ethan Rilly. (Adhouse Books)

Montreal-based comic creator Hartley Lin has been steadily building a fan base since debuting his award-winning series Pope Hats in 2009. His latest, Young Frances, is his first longer form graphic novel. Funny, poignant and beautiful, the book follows millennial Frances Scarland's hesitant climb up the corporate ladder.

15. Canisia Lubrin

Born in St. Lucia, poet Canisia Lubrin now makes her home in Whitby, Ont. (Anna Keenan/Wolsak and Wynn)

Born in St. Lucia, Canisia Lubrin has quickly established herself as one of Canada's brightest emerging poets. Alight with magic, Lubrin's collection Voodoo Hypothesis traverses time and space, exploring topics of race, oppression and colonialism through a folkloric lens. 

16. Terese Marie Mailhot

Terese Marie Mailhot is a writer from Seabird Island, B.C. (Penguin Random House Canada/Isiah Mailhot)

Terese Marie Mailhot is a writer from Seabird Island, B.C. Her memoir, Heart Berries, is already earning national and international acclaim. It tells her story growing up on a reserve on Seabird Island in British Columbia, with an activist mother and an abusive and alcoholic father, and explores how she came to terms with her own mental illness. 

17. Casey Plett

Revelations about the hidden identities in a Mennonite family appear in the plot of Casey Plett's first novel, Little Fish. (Sybil Lamb, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Casey Plett is a writer and publicist originally from Winnipeg. In 2015, she won the Lambda Literary Award for transgender fiction for her debut short story collection, A Safe Girl to Love. Her debut novel, Little Fish, follows Wendy, a trans woman living in Winnipeg, whose life is turned upside down when she is told a family secret: that her Mennonite grandfather was possibly also transgender. 

18. Sarah Raughley

Sarah Raughley is a YA writer and the author of Fate of Flames. (Melanie Gillis, Simon Pulse)

Sarah Raughley is a YA writer, and her stories feature elements of magic, otherworldly powers and the fantastical. Raughley grew up in southern Ontario with a love of pop culture and superheroes. Her YA novel Fate of Flames features four girls with the power to control the elements who must come together and save the world from a terrible evil.