SLEEP IS NOW A FOREIGN COUNTRY a finalist for the Trillium Book Award!

This morning the finalists for the Trillium Book Award, worth $20,000, were announced, and they include Sleep Is Now a Foreign Country by Mike Barnes, published by Biblioasis press on November 14, 2023. The prize is the province of Ontario’s leading literary award. You can view the full list of finalists here.

Biblioasis publisher Dan Wells says,

“Mike Barnes has been with the press for the entirety of our twenty-year history, over which time we’ve published nine books with him, including poetry, fiction, fable, and memoir: he never enters the same stream twice. He ranks, in my estimation, as among our very best writers: intelligent, adventurous, unerring, generous, and humane, and it gives me real pleasure that some long overdue acknowledgment has come for Sleep Is Now a Foreign Country, as courageous and felt a book as we’ve been part of at the press. I speak for all of us in offering Mike congratulations, and in thanking the jury for recognizing the astounding work this is.”

Barnes has written eleven books spanning many genres. His last nonfiction book, Be With: Letters to a Caregiver, was praised by Margaret Atwood as “Timely, lyrical, tough, accurate.” His most recent novel, The Adjustment League was a Maclean’s Editor’s Pick described as “masterful.” Barnes was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and he now lives in Toronto.

The Ontario government established the Trillium Book Award in 1987 to recognize excellence and foster increased public awareness of the quality and diversity of Ontario writers and writing. The quality of Ontario authors and writing speaks for itself with the international acclaim achieved by past Trillium winners including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley and Anne Michaels. The winner of the 2024 Trillium Book Award will be announced at a gala event at the Arcadian Court in Toronto on June 20, 2024, hosted by CBC Anchor Heather Hiscox. More information about the Trillium Book Award can be found here.

Get your copy of Sleep is Now a Foreign Country here!


Finalist for the 2024 Trillium Book Award • One of CBC Books’ Canadian Nonfiction to Read in the Fall

A poet recounts his experience with madness and explores the relationship between apprehension and imagination.

In the summer of 1977, standing on a roadside somewhere between Dachau and Munich, twenty-two-year-old Mike Barnes experienced the dawning of the psychic break he’d been anticipating almost all his life. “Times over the years when I have tried to describe what followed,” he writes of that moment, “it has always come out wrong.” In this finely wrought, deeply intelligent memoir of madness, its antecedents and its aftermath, Barnes reconstructs instead what led him to that moment and offers with his characteristic generosity and candor the captivating account of a mind restlessly aware of itself.


Mike Barnes is the author of twelve books of poetry, short fiction, novels, and memoir. He has won the Danuta Gleed Award and a National Magazine Award Silver Medal for his short fiction, and the Edna Staebler Award for his photo-and-text essay “Asylum Walk.” His most recent book of nonfiction, Be With: Letters to a Caregiver, was a finalist for the City of Toronto Book Award and has been praised by Margaret Atwood as “Timely, lyrical, tough, accurate.” He lives in Toronto.