I’ve written short stories and creative non-fiction, but my five novels have received most attention, starting with A Student of Weather (2000), then Garbo Laughs (2003), Late Nights on Air (2007), Alone in the Classroom (2011), and His Whole Life (2015). In 2018, I published All Things Consoled, a daughter’s memoir.

My first three books sailed rather rapidly into oblivion. In order of appearance, they were Crossing the Snow Line (1989), The Only Snow in Havana (1992), and Captivity Tales: Canadians in New York (1993). It had a sobering effect, watching them disappear with barely a trace. With my fourth book, I was determined to reach a larger audience by writing stories that were more recognizably stories. The result was Small Change (1997).

I have to work hard at narrative. Images come easily, storytelling does not. I do wonder what I lost when I moved into writing novels, since there are aspects of my earlier books that seem fresher and more open and more innovative. What I’ve gained is the experience of immersing myself in fictional lives, which intrigue me and keep me company and take me out of myself.

My stories and essays appear in a number of magazines, most recently Ottawa Magazine and The New Quarterly. My introduction to Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock is printed in the Penguin Classic edition, 2010. And the following anthologies include my work.

The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro ed. David Staines, Cambridge University Press, 2016. “The Mother as Material”

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules ed. Jared Bland, M&S, 2011. Proceeds to Pen Canada.

Best Canadian Essays, ed. Alex Boyd, Kamal Al-Solaylee, Tightrope Books, 2010

The Scotiabank Giller Prize 15 years, An Anthology of Prize-Winning Canadian Fiction, Penguin, 2008

The Penguin Book of Short Stories, ed. Jane Urquhart, Penguin, 2007

Writing Life, ed. Constance Rooke, M&S, 2006. Proceeds to Pen Canada.

The Book I Read, ed. Peder Zane, Norton, 2004

Short Fiction, an Anthology, ed. Rosemary Sullivan, Mark Levene, Oxford University Press, 2003

Dropped Threads 2, ed. Carol Shields, Marjorie Anderson, Vintage, 2003

Journey Prize Anthologies 7 and 8, M&S, 1995, 1996

Best Canadian Stories 93, ed. David & Maggie Helwig, Oberon, 1993

The Unmade Bed, ed. Laura Chester, HarperCollins, 1992

Cradle and All, ed. Laura Chester, Faber and Faber, 1989

Awards, Honours

  • 2019 — finalist, RBC Taylor Prize for Nonfiction
  • 2018 — winner, Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
  • 2015 — finalist, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and Ottawa Book Award for Fiction
  • 2012 — Diamond Jubilee Medal; Honorary doctorate, Carleton University
  • 2010 — Gold, National Magazine Awards, Best Short Feature; Project Bookmark Canada: Garbo Laughs plaque unveiled in Ottawa
  • 2009 — nominated, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • 2008 — winner, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Libris Award, Fiction Book of the Year, and the Ottawa Book Award for fiction.
  • 2004 — winner, Ottawa Book Award for Fiction
  • 2003 — finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction
  • 2002 — winner, Marian Engel Award for a woman writer in mid-career
  • 2001 — winner, Canadian Authors’ Association MOSAID Technologies Inc. Award for Fiction and TORGI Talking Book of the Year Award; finalist, Ottawa Book Award for fiction
  • 2000 — finalist, Giller Prize
  • 1998 — finalist, Trillium Award
  • 1997 — finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction; finalist, Rogers Communications Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
  • 1995 — Gold, National Magazine Awards, Fiction; Western Magazine Award for Fiction; finalist, Journey Prize
  • 1993 — Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction