6 black Canadian writers to watch in 2019
In honour of Black History Month, CBC Books is highlighting six Canadian authors of black heritage who are making their mark on the national literature scene.
Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based author. Lauded by George Elliott Clarke as a 'writer to watch', Reid-Benta explores race, identity and culture through the lens of second-generation Caribbean Canadians in her work. The Columbia MFA gradudate's debut novel Frying Plantain is a series of interconnected stories featuring a young black female protagonist in West end Toronto neighbourhood. Frying Plantain is set for a spring 2019 release.
Whitney French is a writer, storyteller and educator. Her self-published poetry collection 3 Cities came out in 2012. Her latest work is Black Writers Matter, an anthology of African Canadian writing — edited and curated by French — which features a cross-section of established and emerging authors. Mentored by author David Chariandy, French also has several literary works in development.
Vancouver-based Chantal Gibson is a artist, poet and educator. Her 2019 book How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of black women in Canada from a cultural perspective. With ancestral roots in Nova Scotia, Gibson's literary approach is dedicated to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture.
Kaie Kellough is a Montreal-based poet, novelist, and self-described "word-sound systemizer." His experimental novel Accordéon explores the intersection of French and English culture and was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2017. Kellough was a 2018 CBC Short Story Prize reader and released the poetry collection Magnetic Equator in 2019.
Ben Philippe is of Haitian descent, was raised in Montreal and is now based in New York. Philippe has an MFA in fiction and screenwriting, has contributed to publications like Vanity Fair, The Guardian and Playboy and in 2019 released his debut YA novel, The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, about a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager who moves to to Austin, Texas.
Sarah Raughley is a fantasy novelist from Southern Ontario. Raughley's recently completed YA Effigies series, which includes Fate of Flames, Siege of Shadows and Legacy of Light, involves four young women are imbued with the powers of the four elements and tasked with protecting the world from the evil Phantoms. Her forthcoming fantasy book, The Bones of Ruins, features a black protagonist in Victorian England.