23 Canadian collections to read for Short Story Month

May is Short Story Month! Celebrate by checking out a great Canadian book.

May is Short Story Month! Celebrate by checking out a great Canadian book.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century.
Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. (L D’Alessandro, Coach House Books)

In this collection of stories, Kim Fu turns the familiar on its head to weave tales of new worlds where strange happenings, like a girl growing wings on her legs or toy boxes that control the passage of time, are the ordinary trappings of everyday life. The stories deal with themes of death, technological consequence, guilt and sexuality and unmask the contradictions within humanity. 

Kim Fu is a Washington-based, Canadian-born fiction writer and poet. She has published two other works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.

Taobao by Dan K. Woo

A book cover featuring two babies coming out of flowers and the book's author, a man with dark hair wearing a beige suit.
Taobao is a book by Dan K. Woo. (Wolsak & Wynn, Gong Shoupeng/Mengsha Studio)

In this collection of short stories, Dan K. Woo introduces a fascinating cast of characters from different regions of China, from rural villages to bustling cities. These are stories of young people looking for love, meaning and happiness in a country that is often misunderstood by North America. 

Dan K. Woo is the author of Learning How to Love China, which won the 2018 Ken Klonsky Award. His writing has appeared in publications such as the South China Morning Post, Quill & Quire, China Daily USA and elsewhere. Woo lives in Toronto. 

God Isn't Here Today by Francine Cunningham

God Isn’t Here Today is a book by Francine Cunningham. (Invisible Publishing)

The characters in Francine Cunningham's latest short story collection are driven by desperation and presented with moments of choice. From a woman who discovers she is the last human on earth to a man who goes to God's downtown office in search of advice, these stories flirt with the fantastic and highlight the dualities in human nature. 

Francine Cunningham is an award-winning Indigenous author, artist and educator from Calgary. Her work includes the book of poems On/Me, which was a finalist for the 2020 Indigenous Voices Awards. Cunningham's writing has appeared in places like The Malahat Review, Joyland Magazine and The Puritan Magazine. 

Animal Person by Alexander MacLeod

Alexander MacLeod is the author of Animal Person.
Alexander MacLeod is the author of Animal Person. (McClelland & Stewart, Heather A. Crosby Gionet)

The stories in Alexander MacLeod's latest collection explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age where many of us feel cut off from so much, including ourselves. From two sisters having a petty argument to a family on the brink of a new life, these stories pick at the complexity of our shared human experience.

Alexander MacLeod is a short story writer and academic from Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ont. MacLeod's debut short story collection Light Lifting was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Prize. It won the Atlantic Book Award. In 2019, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story Lagomorph. He currently lives in Dartmouth, N.S.

Uncertain Kin by Janice Lynn Mather

Uncertain Kin is a book by Janice Lynn Mather. (Doubleday Canada, Janice Lynn Mather)

In this collection of linked stories, Janice Lynn Mather introduces us to the women and girls of The Bahamas. Searching for identity and belonging during moments of upheaval, these complex characters are intimately familiar. From the responsibilities of parenthood to grief, longing and betrayal, the stories of Uncertain Kin grapple with what it means to be a woman

Janice Lynn Mather is a novelist and short story writer born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, who now lives in Vancouver. Her other books include Learning to Breathe, which was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Buffalo is the New Buffalo by Chelsea Vowel

Buffalo Is the New Buffalo is a book by Chelsea Vowel.
Buffalo Is the New Buffalo is a book by Chelsea Vowel. (Zachary Ayotte, Arsenal Pulp Press)

In this short story collection, Chelsea Vowel explores science fiction tropes through a Métis lens. From a rougarou (shapeshifter) in the 19th century trying to solve a murder in her community to a Métis man who's gored by a radioactive bison and gains super strength, these stories seek to understand the impact of colonization, remove its psychological baggage and recover ancestral traditions. 

Buffalo is the New Buffalo explores Indigenous existence and resistance and rewrites our shared history.

Chelsea Vowel is a Métis writer and educator whose work focuses on language, gender identity and cultural resurgence. Her other novels include Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada, which addresses stereotypes and assumptions about Indigenous issues and offers insight into the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. She also contributed to the graphic novel, This Place, which was adapted into a 10-episode podcast for CBC Books.

Shimmer by Alex Pugsley

Shimmer is a short story collection by Alex Pugsley. (John Lauener, Biblioasis)

Told in 10 stories, Shimmer follows a series of characters through relationships and across boundaries as they weave into and out of each other's lives. From two movie stars deciding if the affair they're having means they like each other to the sharp-tongued Twyla who agrees to go to therapy, these stories explore social norms, mental health and love. 

Alex Pugsley is a filmmaker and writer from Nova Scotia. He is also the co-author of the novel Kay Darling and the author of the novel Aubrey McKee.

Glorious Frazzled Beings by Angélique Lalonde

Angélique Lalonde is the author of the short story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings. (House of Anansi Press)

In the short story collection Glorious Frazzled Beings, human and more-than-human worlds come together in places we call home. Among other tales, a ghost tends to the family garden, a shape-shifting mother deals with the complexities of love when one son is born with beautiful fox ears and another is not and a daughter tries to make sense of her dating profile after her mom dies. 

Glorious Frazzled Beings was on the shortlist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Angélique Lalonde is a B.C.-based writer whose work has been featured in PRISM International, the Journey Prize Anthology, Room and the Malahat Review, among other publications. She received the 2019 Writers' Trust Journey Prize and was nominated for a National Magazine Award. She was awarded an emerging writer's residency at the Banff Centre. She lives in Northern B.C. and holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Victoria.

Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning

Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a short story collection by Norma Dunning. (Emily Weisz Studios, Douglas & McIntyre)

Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a collection of six stories from Inuk writer Norma Dunning. Each of the stories focuses on a contemporary Inuk character, and explores themes such as homelessness, spirituality, death, displacement, loneliness, alienation and community connection.

Tainna won the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Dunning is an Inuk writer who currently lives in Edmonton. She is also the author of the short story collection Annie Muktuk and Other Stories and the poetry collection Eskimo Pie: A Poetics of Inuit IdentityAnnie Muktuk and Other Stories won the 2018 Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which recognizes the best debut short story collection of the year.

We Want What We Want by Alix Ohlin

Alix Ohlin is the author of We Want What We Want. (House of Anansi Press)

We Want What We Want is a short story collection by Alix Ohlin. These stories explore parenthood, lost loves, wasted potential and more, showcasing life's humour, discomfort and beauty.

Ohlin is a writer from Vancouver and the current chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. Her books include the novels Inside, Dual Citizens and the short story collection Signs and Wonders. Both Inside and Dual Citizens were finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2012 and 2019, respectively.

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett

A Dream of a Woman is a short story collection by Casey Plett. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Joanna Eldredge Morrissey)

A Dream of a Woman is a collection of short stories revolving around transgender women who are looking for stable, adult lives. Taking place in Prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, during freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days, these stories explore partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness and love.

A Dream of a Woman was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Casey Plett is a Windsor-based writer who was born in Manitoba and has lived in Oregon and New York. Her novel Little Fish won the Lambda Literary Award, Amazon First Novel Award and the Firecracker Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, A Safe Girl to Love, was published in 2014.

The Octopus Has Three Hearts by Rachel Rose

The Octopus Has Three Hearts is a short story collection by Rachel Rose. (Douglas & McIntyre, Ayelet Tsabari)

From a goat farmer to a suburban adulterer, a violent child to a polyamorous marine biologist, the diverse characters in Rachel Rose's The Octopus Has Three Hearts have little in common except a life-sustaining connection to the animal world. The octopus, dogs, pigs, chameleons, bats, parrots, rats and sugar gliders in their lives extend a measure of compassion and solace that their human communities lack.

The Octopus Has Three Hearts was longlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Rose is the author of four poetry collections and a memoir called The Dog Lover Unit. She is the poet laureate emerita of Vancouver and a poetry editor at Cascadia Magaz.

Wave Forms and Doom Scrolls by Daniel Scott Tysdal

Wave Forms and Doom Scrolls is a short story collection by Daniel Scott Tysdal. (Andrea Charise, Wolsak & Wynn)

From the middle-aged man who's involved in a suicide cult to the young woman writing a poem for a friend who has recently died, Wave Forms and Doom Scrolls is a collection of short stories that delves deep into the human experience. It looks unflinchingly at the darkness of society, such as suicide, internet trolls and violence. 

Daniel Scott Tysdal is the author of two books of poetry, The Mourner's Book of Albums and Predicting the Next Big Advertising Breakthrough Using a Potentially Dangerous Method. Tysdal teaches at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Chemical Valley by David Huebert

Chemical Valley is a short story collection by David Huebert. (Biblioasis, Nicola Davison)

Chemical Valley is a collection of stories that follow the rich emotional worlds of characters — ranging from city-dwelling doomsday preppers, nurses, dishwashers, professional hockey enforcers and refinery workers. Rather than shying away from urgent modern questions, this book grounds these anxieties in vivid and humorous intricacies of these characters' lives.

David Huebert's writing has won the CBC Short Story Prize, The Walrus Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2020 Writers' Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. He is also the author of the short story collection Peninsula Sinking. He lives in Halifax and teaches at The University of King's College.

Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart by Cary Fagan

Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart is a short story collection by Cary Fagan. (Mark Raynes Roberts, Freehand Books)

The stories in Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart highlight ordinary introverted people who mostly live quiet lives, until they take the chance to leap toward small meaningful adventures. A young woman's stepfather gives her a painting by Picasso, and she must find a wall to hang it on. A cello-playing hitchhiker convinces a hippie family to get a television. A man winds up taking his girlfriend's son on a road trip. 

Cary Fagan has written six novels, three story collections and numerous children's books. His work includes The Student, which was a finalist for the Governor Generals' Literary Award for fiction, A Bird's Eye, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize and My Life Among the Apes, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Toronto.

Householders by Kate Cayley

Householders is a short story collection by Kate Cayley. (Biblioasis, Carmen Farrell)

Householders contains linked short stories about the lives of self-deluded utopians, families and budding queer people who set out to explore the ordinary strangeness in their overlapping lives. These stories move from west-end Toronto to a trailer in the middle of nowhere, from a university campus to a decked out underground bunker, from a commune in the woods to the city and back again.

Kate Cayley is a poet, playwright and fiction writer living in Toronto. She's written two poetry collections, Other Houses and When This World Comes to an End, and a YA novel, The Hangman in the Mirror. Her previous short story collection, How You Were Born, won the 2015 Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

To See the Night Out by David Clerson, translated by Katia Grubisic

To See Out the Night is a short story collection by David Clerson. (QC Fiction, David Cherniak)

In the short story collection To See the Night Out, insects and jellyfish reveal a predatory world of children's fairy tales, lurking shadows and unrelenting fevers where people are swallowed up by cities and bogs. To See Out the Night celebrates nature and humanity, in all their terrifying glory and blurs the lines between man and beast, and life and death. 

David Clerson is a writer from Sherbrooke, Que., and currently lives in Montreal. His debut novel, Brothers, was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for translation. 

Katia Grubisic is a writer, editor and translator. She also translated Clerson's novel Brothers.

Ghost Geographies by Tamas Dobozy

Ghost Geographies is a short story collection by Tamas Dobozy. (New Star Books)

Ghost Geographies is the latest short story collection from Writers' Trust Fiction Prize winner Tamas Dobozy. After fleeing communist Budapest in a hot air balloon, a wrestler tries to reinvent himself in Canada. Chasing the dream of a better world, a Belgian bureaucrat 'defects' to communist Hungary. A provocateur filmmaker drinks and blasts his way to a confrontation with fascism. A terrible philosopher works on his masterpiece. In Ghost Geographies, these are some of the characters who are affected by the promise and failure of utopia.

Dobozy is the author of four collections of short fiction and novellas. Siege 13 won the Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (now the Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. He lives in Kitchener, Ont.

Binge by Douglas Coupland

Binge is a short story collection by Douglas Coupland. (Random House Canada)

Binge contains 60 stories about the way we live and Douglas Coupland's existential worry about how we should be living, which is the very thing that made him an influential writer. Inspired by the way we write about ourselves and our experiences in online forums, Coupland creates characters we can all relate to. 

Coupland is a writer, visual artist and designer who lives in Vancouver. He has authored 14 novels, two collections of short stories and eight nonfiction books. He's a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. His artwork has been exhibited in The Vancouver Art Gallery, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and The Royal Ontario Museum.

Dusk in the Frog Pond by Rummana Chowdhury

Dusk in the Frog Pond is a short story collection by Rummana Chowdhury. (Inanna Publications, Vidur Suddul)

Dusk in the Frog Pond is a collection of eight short stories that explore the lives of immigrants as they face the challenges of migration, displacement and cultural assimilation. Readers are introduced to unique social, cultural and traditional rural lifestyles in a remote village in Bangladesh, where the women are often in arranged marriages. These stories reflect joy and sorrow — depicting culture, tradition and past history in parallel with today's modernized world.

Rummana Chowdhury has written 43 books in both Bengali and English, including poetry, short stories, novels and essays. She's a leading global commentator on issues of migration that affect the South Asian Diaspora. She emigrated to Canada in 1982 and now lives in Mississauga.

Stray Dogs by Rawi Hage

Stray Dogs is a book by Rawi Hage.
Stray Dogs is a book by Rawi Hage. (Knopf Canada, Madeleine Thien)

The characters in this short story collection are restless travellers, moving between nation states and states of mind, seeking connection and trying to escape the past. Set in Montreal, Beirut, Tokyo and more, these stories highlight the often random ways our fragile modern identities are constructed, destroyed and reborn. 

Rawi Hage is a Montreal-based writer. His books include De Niro's Game, which won the International Dublin Literary Award in 2008; Cockroach, which received the Hugh MacLennan Prize for fiction, was defended by Samantha Bee on Canada Reads in 2014, and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award; Carnival, which was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize; and Beirut Hellfire Society, which was on the shortlist for the the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction

The Pump by Sydney Hegele, formerly Sydney Warner Brooman

The Pump is a book by Sydney Warner Brooman. (Invisible Publishing, Sarah Bohri)

In The Pump, the small southern Ontario town known as The Pump has a tainted water supply, an apathetic municipal government and the decay of rural domesticity. In this book of interconnected stories, the characters must figure out their own morality while living on land that's slowly killing them. No one can escape The Pump's sacrificial games. 

Sydney Hegele is a writer living in Toronto. Their story The Bottom was shortlisted for The Malahat Review's 2020 Open Season Awards. They have been published in American Chordata, Thorn Literary Magazine, and other literary journals. The Pump, their first book, won the 2022 ReLit Award for short fiction.

Radium Girl by Sofi Papamarko

Radium Girl is a short story collection by Sofi Papamarko. (Wolsak & Wynn,

Radium Girl is a collection of 12 stories that each tell the story of triumph and heartbreak when up against difficult circumstances. The title story, Radium Girl, refers to a story about the inner workings of Marie Curie's mind.

Sofi Papamarko is a writer and columnist from Toronto. Her work has appeared on CBC and in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Flare. Radium Girl is her first book.

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