Books·Writers to Watch

The CBC Books Writers to Watch list: 30 Canadian writers on the rise in 2022

CBC Books has announced its writers to watch list! Here are 30 Canadian writers on the rise in 2022.

CBC Books has announced this year's writers to watch list! Here are 30 Canadian writers on the rise in 2022.

Lisa Bird-Wilson

Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer. (Julie Cortens)

Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw writer whose work has won multiple awards over the years, including 2014 Book of the Year from the Saskatchewan Book Awards for her short story collection Just Pretending. She is the current prose editor for Grain magazine as well as a founding member and chair of the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers Circle.

Her latest book and first novel, Probably Ruby, tells the story of a girl discovering her Indigenous identity after being relinquished as an infant and adopted. It won two 2022 Saskatchewan Book Awards. 

Nada Alic

Nada Alic is a Los Angeles-based writer originally from Toronto. (Andrea Nakhla)

Nada Alic lives in Los Angeles by way of Toronto and writes about art, design and maintaining a creative practice. Her fiction series Future You, a collaborative project with visual artist Andrea Nakhla, has been featured in Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal, Cool Hunting, It's Nice That, Metatron and elsewhere. Alic made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize shortlist for The Intruder.

Her debut short story collection, Bad Thoughts, examines the lives of women from many walks of life as they navigate the modern world.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Mexican Canadian novelist, short story writer, editor and publisher. (Martin Dee, 2017)

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a Canadian novelist and critic who was born and raised in Mexico. She is the author of Signal to Noise, which won the 2016 Copper Cylinder Award, Gods of Jade and Shadow, The Beautiful Ones and Mexican Gothic. Her book Velvet Was The Night was on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist and was selected by former U.S. president Barack Obama as one of his favourite books of 2022.

Moreno-Garcia's latest novel, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, is set in 19th-century Mexico and reimagines the classic work The Island of Doctor Moreau

Sheung-King 

Sheung-King is a creative writing coach and the author of the novel You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked. He lives in Richmond, B.C. (Maari Sugawara)

Sheung-King is a writer and educator born in Vancouver, raised in Hong Kong and currently living in Toronto. His first book, You Are Eating an Orange. You Are Naked., was on the shortlist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Canada Reads 2021 longlist.

Sheung-King is currently working on his second book, a collection of stories exploring transnational identity, postcolonial spaces, disembodied states of consciousness and the datafication of human behaviour.

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a Nigerian Canadian author. (Dundurn Press)

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer who divides her time between Lagos and Halifax. She holds a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University and works in the areas of health, gender and violence against women and children.

Her first novel, The Son of the House, was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist. It tells the story of two Nigerian women, the housemaid Nwabulu and the wealthy Julie. The two live very differently, but when they are kidnapped and forced to spend days together in a dark, tiny room, they connect and keep hope alive by sharing the stories of their lives.

Vauhini Vara

Vauhini Vara is a Canadian American author. (Andrew Altschul)

Vauhini Vara is an American Canadian writer and technology reporter from Saskatchewan. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an O. Henry Prize winner.

Her debut novel, The Immortal King Rao, which explores technological capitalism, was published in 2022. It will be followed by a short story collection, This is Salvaged, in 2023. 

Xiran Jay Zhao

Xiran Jay Zhao is a Canadian author. (Xiran Jay Zhao)

Xiran Jay Zhao is a Vancouver-based author and social media creator. They are a first-generation Chinese immigrant who is passionate about Chinese history, cosplay and anime. Their debut novel Iron Widow, a YA fantasy featuring aliens, giant robots and a quest to battle evil, was a New York Times bestseller. 

Zhao's latest is a middle-grade book called Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor. It follows a boy named Zachary Ying as he embarks on a mission after discovering he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China. 

Fawn Parker

Fawn Parker is a novelist and poet based in Toronto and Fredericton. (FawnParker.com)

Fawn Parker is a writer based in Toronto and Fredericton. She is the author of the novels Set-Point and Dumb Show. Her story Feed Machine was longlisted for the 2020 McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of Toronto and is an incoming PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick.

Parker's latest and third novel, What We Both Know, tackles toxic masculinity, aging and dysfunctional family dynamics.

Kim Fu

Kim Fu is a Canadian-born, Seattle-based poet and writer. (L D’Alessandro.)

Kim Fu is a Vancouver-born author. Her novels include The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and For Today I Am a Boy, which won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award. She has also written a poetry collection, How Festive the Ambulance: Poems.

Fu's latest work, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, is a collection of short stories that use science fiction and fantasy elements to explore the strange and uncanny elements of human nature, relationships and technology. 

Daniel Sarah Karasik

Daniel Sarah Karasik won the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize. (Submitted by Daniel Sarah Karasik)

Daniel Sarah Karasik is a poet and author based in Toronto. They are the author of five books of poetry, drama and fiction, including the poetry collection Hungry and the short story collection Faithful and Other Stories. Karasik has received the Toronto Arts Foundation's Emerging Artist Award and the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award. They won the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize for the story Mine.

Their latest poetry collection, Plenitude, contemplates how we might build a more humane future without cops, bosses, prisons and the oppressive regulation of gender and desire.

Tsering Yangzom Lama

Tsering Yangzom Lama is a Tibetan Canadian writer. (Paige Critcher)

Tsering Yangzom Lama is a Tibetan Canadian author based in Vancouver. Born and raised in Nepal, she's also lived in Toronto and New York City. She earned her MFA in writing from Columbia University and her work has appeared in places like the Globe and Mail, The Malahat Review, Grain, Kenyon Review, Vela, LaLit and Himal SouthAsian.

Her debut novel, We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies, published this spring, recounts a Tibetan family's struggle to create new lives of dignity, love and hope after China's invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. 

Cody Caetano

Cody Caetano is a Toronto-based writer of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation. (Kris Caetano)

Cody Caetano is a Toronto-based writer of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation. His debut memoir, Half-Bads in White Regalia, was written as part of his Masters in creative writing at the University of Toronto, under the mentorship of the acclaimed late Indigenous writer and academic Lee Maracle. 

Half-Bads in White Regalia traces Caetano's upbringing living in a rural house with his siblings after his parents split up and left them behind — his mother trying to reclaim her Anishinaabe roots after discovering her Sixties Scoop origin story and his Portuguese immigrant father drifting aimlessly. Excerpts from the memoir won the 2020 Indigenous Voices Award for Unpublished Prose.

Dan K. Woo

Dan K Woo is a writer born and based in Toronto. (Gong Shoupeng/Mengsha Studio)

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. 

His latest, Taobao, is a short story collection following a cast of characters from different regions of China searching for love and happiness.

Emily Austin

Emily Austin is an Ontario-born writer. (Bridget Forberg)

Emily Austin is a writer based in Ottawa who studied English literature and library science at Western University.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead, her debut novel, follows the misadventures of Gilda, a 20-something atheist who is hired at a local Catholic church to replace their recently deceased receptionist. It was a finalist for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Janice Lynn Mather

Janice Lynn Mather is a Vancouver-based author of Bahamian heritage. (Simon & Schuster)

Janice Lynn Mather is a Vancouver-based novelist and short story writer of Bahamian heritage. Her books include the YA novel Learning to Breathe, which was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text and Facing the Sun, a YA novel which won the 2021 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and was named one of the best Canadian YA and middle-grade books of 2020 by CBC Books.

Her latest, Uncertain Kin, published in 2022, marks Mather's adult literary debut. It follows the lives of girls and women as they grapple with moments of profound change — from witnessing terrible acts to adjusting to life in a new country.

Chelsea Vowel

Chelsea Vowel is a Métis writer, educator and the author of Buffalo is the New Buffalo. (Zachary Ayotte)

Chelsea Vowel is a Métis writer and educator whose work focuses on language, gender identity and cultural resurgence. She is the author of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada and contributed to the graphic novel This Place, which was adapted into a 10-episode podcast for CBC Books.

Her latest, Buffalo is the New Buffalo, is a collection of speculative fiction that reshapes familiar sci-fi tropes through a Métis worldview.

Jamie Chai Yun Liew

Jamie Chai Yun Liew is a Canadian author. (Kenya-Jade Pinto)

Jamie Chai Yun Liew is a lawyer and law professor based in Ottawa, specializing in immigration, refugee and citizenship law. Her podcast, Migration Conversations, features experts and migrants who have experienced immigration systems up close.

Dandelion is her first novel. It reflects on family secrets, migration, isolation, motherhood and mental illness. It won her the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award from the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

Johnnie Christmas

Johnnie Christmas is an American Canadian author and artist. (Amanda Palmer)

New York Times bestselling author and artist Johnnie Christmas is the creator of comics like Firebug, Sheltered and Pisces. He is the illustrator of Angel Catbird, a series written by novelist Margaret Atwood about a cat/bird/human superhero.

The middle-grade graphic novel Swim Team is the Vancouver-based writer's latest book. In it, a young Black girl named Bree moves from Brooklyn to Florida and struggles with fitting in at her new school — until she reluctantly ends up in the school's swim club and discovers a love for the water. 

Brian Thomas Isaac

Brian Thomas Isaac is an author based in British Columbia. (Touchwood Editions)

Brian Thomas Isaac is a writer from the Okanagan Indian Reserve in British Columbia. He's worked in oil fields, as a bricklayer and had a short career riding bulls in local rodeos. 

Isaac's debut book, All the Quiet Places, is set in 1956 and follows Eddie Toma, who lives on the Okanagan Indian Reserve with his mother and little brother. As life goes on, Eddie is faced with the effects of guilt, grief and despair, threatening everything he has ever loved and known. All the Quiet Places was on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist.

Tolu Oloruntoba

Tolu Oloruntoba is a Nigerian Canadian poet. (Franctal Studio1)

Tolu Oloruntoba is a writer from Nigeria who now lives in Surrey, B.C. He won the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize and 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry for his debut collection, The Junta of Happenstance. His first chapbook, Manubrium, was shortlisted for the 2020 bpNichol Chapbook Award. He is also the founder of the literary magazine Klorofyl. 

His latest collection of poetry is Each One a Furnace, which explores immigration and transience through the imagery of migratory birds.

Jason Purcell

Jason Purcell is Canadian writer, poet and musician. (Zachary Ayotte)

Jason Purcell is a writer and musician living in Edmonton, where they are also the co-owner of Glass Bookshop. They hold a MA in English from the University of Alberta.

Swollening is their first full-length collection, which contemplates the intersection of queerness and illness.

Gillian Sze

Gillian Sze is a poet and teacher based in Montreal. (Pear Tree Photography)

Gillian Sze is a poet from Winnipeg. She is the author of multiple poetry collections, as well as the 2021 children's book The Night is Deep and Wide. Sze lives in Montreal.

Her latest book, Quiet Night Think, is a collection of personal essays and poems that reflect on her familial and artistic origins. 

Michael Fraser

Michael Fraser is a Toronto-based author and poet. (Biblioasis)

Michael Fraser is a Canadian poet based in Toronto. He won the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize for the poem African Canadian in Union Blue. Fraser is the author of the poetry collections The Serenity of Stone, which won the 2007 Canadian Aid Literary Award Contest, and To Greet Yourself Arriving

His newest and third poetry collection, The Day-Breakers, is a fictional retelling of Black soldiers' experiences during the American Civil War.

Michelle Poirier Brown

Michelle Poirier Brown is a writer and artist based in B.C. (michellepoirierbrown.com)

Michelle Poirier Brown is a poet, performer, author and photographer. She is nêhiýaw-iskwêw and a citizen of the Métis Nation based on the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx peoples in British Columbia.

You Might Be Sorry You Read This is Brown's debut memoir, which tells the story of how she discovered her Métis heritage at age 38.

Judy I. Lin

Judy I. Lin is an author based in Alberta. (Aaron Perkins)

Judy I. Lin was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada with her family when she was young. She is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up with her nose in a book, escaping to imaginary worlds. Lin lives on the Canadian prairies with her husband and daughters.

A Magic Steeped in Poison, the first book in the Book of Tea duology, is her debut novel about Ning, a magician versed in the art of tea-making. After an encounter with poison tea causes her mother's untimely death, Ning sets off to the imperial city to enter a tea-making competition and save her sibling's life. A Magic Steeped in Poison will be followed by the second book in the series, A Venom Dark and Sweet, in August 2022.

Chanel M. Sutherland 

Chanel M. Sutherland is a writer and product marketing director living in Montreal (Submitted by Chanel M. Sutherland)

Chanel M. Sutherland is a Montreal-based marketing director and writer. Born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sutherland moved to Canada when she was 10 years old. She won the 2022 CBC Short Story Prize for her story Beneath the Softness of Snow and the CBC Nonfiction Prize in 2021 for her story Umbrella

Sutherland is currently writing her first book, a collection of short stories exploring the Caribbean immigrant experience.

Aimee Wall

Aimee Wall is a Canadian writer and translator from Newfoundland and Labrador. (Richmond Lam)

Aimee Wall is a writer and translator from Newfoundland now living in Montreal. Her translations include Vickie Gendreau's novels Testament and Drama Queens and Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard's Sports and Pastimes. Wall's essays and reviews have appeared in Maisonneuve, Lemon Hound and the Montreal Review of Books, among other publications. 

We, Jane, her debut novel, is about a young woman named Marthe, who ends up befriending an older woman while living in Montreal. She learns how the woman used to help young folks in rural Newfoundland get abortions, and the two return to the island to continue the effort. We, Jane was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist

Conor Kerr

Conor Kerr is an educator, writer and harvester living in Vancouver. (Zachary Ayotte)

Conor Kerr is a Métis and Ukrainian educator, writer and harvester. He is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and is descended from the Gladue, Ginther and Quinn families from the Lac Ste. Anne and Fort Des Prairies Métis communities and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His poem Prairie Ritual was on the 2021 CBC Poetry Prize longlist

Kerr's debut novel, Avenue of Champions, considers Indigenous youth in relation to the urban constructs and colonial spaces in which they survive — from violence, whitewashing, trauma and racism to language revitalization, relationships with Elders and re-staking land claims. It won the 2022 ReLit Award in the novel category and was a finalist for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award

Andrew David MacDonald

Andrew David MacDonald is the author of novel When We Were Vikings. He lives in London, Ont. (Ali Ünal)

Andrew David MacDonald is a novelist from Edmonton. He has won a Western Magazine Award for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Canadian National Magazine Award for Fiction, and his work has been anthologized in four volumes of The Journey Prize Stories, collecting the year's best Canadian stories from emerging writers.

His debut novel, When We Were Vikings, follows Zelda, a 21-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother Gert. When Zelda finds out that Gert has been resorting to questionable means to make money for  both of them, Zelda decides to launch into her own quest to become a living legend. 

Genki Ferguson

Genki Ferguson is the author of debut novel Satellite Love. (genkiferguson.com)

Genki Ferguson was born in New Brunswick to a family of writers. He is the son of acclaimed author Will Ferguson and spent most of his childhood in Kyushu, Japan, where his mother's family still resides. Ferguson was the recipient of the 2017 Helen Pitt Award for visual arts and recently completed a degree in film production. 

His first novel, Satellite Love, is set in Japan in 1999 and tells an unconventional story about love and human connection, as it follows a lonely teenager named Anna who turns to stargazing for comfort and escape. It was on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist.

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