The Biblioasis Spotlight Series is back! Our November pick is Nancy Jo Cullen‘s queer, weird, and brilliantly messed-up debut collection of short stories, Canary (April 16, 2013). Read on for a brief word from the author on the journey and growing joy of writing, and keep an eye out for an excerpt from the collection in our newsletter later this month!


An ALA 2014 Over the Rainbow Selection • An Best Book of 2013: Top 100/Editors’ Pick • A Vancouver Sun Favourite Read of 2013

What has to die before you force yourself to change? That’s the question facing the always quirky and often-queer characters of Canary. From the communal showers of a hot yoga studio to seedy pubs on Vancouver’s East Side, from Catholic merchandise salesmen to hitchhiking teenage lesbians, the people and places of Nancy Jo Cullen’s debut are asphyxiating slowly on ordinary life. Yet in this joint-smoking urban underground, we also glimpse the families, communities, friends and strangers from whom unexpected kindness comes as a breath of fresh air. Trashy but poignant, comic and profound, Canary hangs luminous above the coal-heap of fiction debuts—and proves Nancy Jo Cullen a writer of astonishing depths.

“Cullen’s prose is volcanic even when she’s describing the most domestic situations possible—the language is full of subterranean rumbles that simultaneously disturb and delight. The writing is always surprising, always bright, even in the most somber moments. Moving and funny, these stories will break your heart in the very best way.”
—Suzette Mayr, Giller Prize-shortlisted author of The Sleeping Car Porter

Nancy Jo Cullen’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The PuritanGrainfilling StationPlenitudePrairie FireArcThis MagazineBest Canadian Poetry 2018RoomThe Journey Prize and Best Canadian Fiction 2012. Nancy is the 2010 recipient for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ+ Emerging Writers. She’s published three collections of poetry with Frontenac House and a collection of short stories, Canary, with Biblioasis. Her first novel, The Western Alienation Merit Badge, was short-listed for the 2020 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Her fourth poetry collection, Nothing Will Save Your Life, is available now from Wolsak & Wynn.

Grab your copy of Canary here!


The Biggest Joy in Writing

Photo Credit: Kristen Ritchie

I wrote the stories in Canary as my MFA thesis at the University of Guelph. My story “Ashes” came out of a writing assignment from a workshop with Michael Winter where he asked us to write something in the journalistic style of Norman Levine’s “In Lower Town.” That assignment allowed me to re-visit the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s; the fact that it turned out to be a big metaphor in the story was not something I realized until the story was written. I don’t generally plan when I’m writing (and yes, that means it takes longer, but the heart wants etc.) and I wrote most of the stories the way I write poetry; they grew from a phrase, feeling or image that I wanted to explore further. Writing my thesis was a glorious year of sitting in my room looking out over my Toronto street and down at the monks who came in and out of the Buddhist temple. I’d say to my kids, “I’m doing homework,” and they left me alone. Or maybe they understood I wouldn’t be policing their media consumption and jumped at the opportunity to be unsupervised.

After I wrote Canary I began work on a novel, The Western Alienation Merit Badge. Then, unexpectedly, found myself writing poetry again—something I swore I’d given up as I hadn’t felt the urge to write a poem for close to a decade. Those poems are now a collection titled, Nothing Will Save Your Life. During the pandemic, I thought I should write a fluffy novel and I’m still working my way through that; of course, I had the hubris to believe writing a fluffy novel would be easy. And now again, the siren call of short stories is strong. Notes are being made, and I’m coming to think maybe the biggest joy in writing is working on short pieces, poems and stories that allow me to explore small ideas in big ways and big ideas in small ways. My most recent note includes the words “vintage lesbian vest” and the many ways that turn of phrase may go.


Summer is here and so is another title in our Biblioasis Spotlight Series! Biblioasis is proud to be the first home to several outstanding authors, so for the month of July, we wanted to celebrate the beauty of the debut with Alice Petersen‘s short story collection, All the Voices Cry (May 15, 2012). Don’t miss a brief note from the author below!


Winner of the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize (2012)

An academic’s wife, struggling to keep up with her husband’s quest to find a long-dead author’s Tahitian love-garden, realizes that her own idea of paradise no longer includes her husband. An architect dreams of slender redheads, Champlain’s astrolabe, and a brush with mortality—and finds at least the latter at Danseuses 7 Jours. An elderly man boards a trans-Pacific flight in an attempt to elude the prediction of a psychic, only to understand too late how the prophecy has shaped his actions.

In All the Voices Cry, modern life collides with all the old pushes and pulls: city and country, the global and the local, the ideal and the real. Petersen’s characters chase the mirage of escape, and are brought up hard by reality. This is a book rooted in landscape, tangled in the brambles of personal history, and it introduces in Alice Petersen a wondrous new voice that is yours to discover.

“Finely crafted and pared down to their bare essentials … These are stories that work on multiple levels, and continue to divulge their secrets after several rereadings.”—Quill & Quire

“Alice Petersen’s All the Voices Cry is masterful and potent—incredibly satisfying for a reader.”
—Kathleen Winter, author of Annabel

New Zealander-Canadian Alice Petersen was the 2009 winner of the David Adams Richards Award, offered by the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. Her stories have variously been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the Writers’ Union of Canada competition, the CBC Literary awards, and the Metcalf Rooke Award. All the Voices Cry (Biblioasis, 2012) won the University of Concordia QWF First Book Prize. A second collection of stories, Worldly Goods, was published by Biblioasis in 2016. Petersen lives in Quebec with her husband and two daughters.


The stories in All the Voices Cry were written between 2002 and 2010. During that time, we built and spent most weekends in a small log cabin on the shores of a lake just outside the Parc de la Mauricie in Quebec. I would walk the trails in the Parc, learning about the woods of Eastern Canada. Edible mushrooms, lichen cups, purple lightening weed with matching flower spiders, mosses and bog plants, the changing states of water and ice—all of these things were there to be read and understood as intrinsic parts of Quebec. As a new immigrant I hoped that the process of memorizing this landscape and noting down the details would make that place more familiar, so it all got mulched up and made into stories.

But writing the stories in All the Voices Cry did not make that place mon coin. Although we had that cabin for over a decade, I was still just visiting, even at the end. Perhaps I will always feel this way about living in Canada. I do not know. Other stories in the book span the globe, ending up back on the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, where I grew up. Having dual nationality is a kind of emotional waterskiing—I feel lucky to have a foot in two countries, although there also is a precarious, teetering quality to the whole arrangement. The stories are lightly interlinked.

I have always liked the book cover that Gordon Robertson designed for Biblioasis. The image shows young man launching himself off the dock into a chilly looking lake. There is snow on the dock. Looking at the picture, you want to say don’t jump! It’s so cold! But that’s life. We each have to jump, don’t we? We have to, because the lake is there and because swimming is necessary.

Get your copy of All the Voices Cry here!

Check out Alice’s other collection, Worldy Goods, here!


Welcome back to our Biblioasis Spotlight Series! For the month of June, we’re featuring David Huebert‘s vibrant and unflinchingly intimate debut collection of stories, Peninsula Sinking (Oct 24, 2017). Don’t miss a brief note from the author below!


Winner of the 2018 Jim Connors Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction • Runner-Up for the 2017 Danuta Gleed Literary Award • Shortlisted for the 2018 Alistair MacLeod Prize for Short Fiction

In Peninsula Sinking, David Huebert brings readers an assortment of Maritimers caught between the places they love and the siren call of elsewhere. From submarine officers to prison guards, oil refinery workers to academics, each character in these stories struggles to find some balance of spiritual and emotional grace in the world increasingly on the precipice of ruin. Peninsula Sinking offers up eight urgent and electric meditations on the mysteries of death and life, of grief and love, and never shies away from the joy and horror of our submerging world.

David Huebert’s writing has won the CBC Short Story Prize, The Walrus Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 Journey Prize. David’s fiction debut, Peninsula Sinking, won a Dartmouth Book Award, was shortlisted for the Alistair MacLeod Short Fiction Prize, and was runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. David’s work has been published in magazines such as The WalrusMaisonneuveenRoute, and Canadian Notes & Queries, and anthologized in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Stories. David teaches literature and creative writing at The University of New Brunswick.

“A sense of wonderment penetrates the everyday lives of characters from the Maritimes in this well-crafted, compelling collection that displays a mastery of classical short-story structure and technique. Huebert’s vibrant language juxtaposes tough characters with tender preoccupations, creating narratives that are unsettling and mesmerizing, making ordinary moments in relationships thrilling and dangerous.”
—Danuta Gleed Literary Award Jury Statement


Photo Credit: Nicola Davison


Coming Home

When Peninsula Sinking was released, I brought my 3-month-old baby, Rose, on the famous Biblioasis 401 tour, where she attended readings, suckling her mother’s pinkie until it wrinkled and paled and she fell, finally, into stunned sleep. This June Rose turns five, and soon so will Peninsula Sinking, a book that was very much, for me, about my increasingly complex relationship to my home. 

In Peninsula Sinking, I stumbled into ecological writing because it was simply what worked for me. When I wrote about the ocean or an animal—a lonely whale, a stallion sex plane, a beloved dog’s gonadectomy (the euphemism, so appropriately absurd, is “fixed”)—I found that my writing gained a different and new momentum, a lyrical glitter that allowed my prose to rise, raise its hackles, turn around and face me, a strange and sudden creature I scarcely recognized. Eco, the root of ecology and economy comes from the Ancient Greek Oikos, or household. For me, and I think for most, home is very much an environmental concept—home is trees, skies, seas, the particular slump of the mid-morning sun. But I think that home, like the wilderness, is less a place than a psychological state. 

I wrote Peninsula while living in London, Ontario. The stories are mostly set in Nova Scotia, and in some sense I wrote them out of longing for the place where I now sit and write. I live on Chebucto Road, which bears the original name of this place, the Mi’kmaq word Kjipuktuk. Growing up, I never learned that word—a highly tactical obfuscation (I learned plenty about Cartier and Champlain and the Acadian expulsion). From my daughter’s room, I can see the yard of Oxford School, which I attended from primary to grade nine. I regularly walk my daughters past the house I grew up in, just around the corner on Duncan Street. (How strange it is that I can’t go sit in the backyard where I used to pick rhubarb for my mother and let green inch worms swirl through my fingertips). I have come back home, and one might think that I’ve arrived at a resting place. A part of me is deeply soothed by the familiarity of this place I have always loved. In particular, I love the grey, panting days, when it’s not raining but when the air is so salty and dank that an outdoor walk will soak your clothes. I have arrived “back home,” and yet, just as often, I feel ill at ease here. I feel myself a ghost walking through a past life, through the cracked concrete of the school where I wrote my first story (“Big Beard Ben”), where I broke B’s tooth on the wrestling hill and learned about explorers in a transplanted language. 

One layer of my unease, certainly, is an increasing awareness of land theft and genocide and the long, tactical, violent attempt to erase Mi’kmaq culture from this place. But there’s something else too. Something vague and creepy. A malaise. Perhaps it is just a necessary agitation in the feeling of home itself, a longing that refuses to arrive, directed always towards departure or return. I can’t decide, so I suppose I’ll just keep wondering, which is to say wandering, home. 


Pick up your copy of Peninsula Sinking here!

Check out David’s latest short story collection, Chemical Valley here!


STOOP CITY Wins ReLit Award!

Stoop City coverWe’re thrilled to announce that Stoop City by Kristyn Dunnion has won the 2021 ReLit Award in the short fiction category!

Founded in 2000, The ReLit Awards are awarded annually to book-length works in the novel, short-story and poetry categories, and are considered the preeminent literary prize in independent Canadian publishing.

Stoop City was selected from a shortlist which also included Here The Dark by David Bergen (Biblioasis), Seeking Shade by Frances Boyle (Porcupine’s Quill), The Swan Suit by Katherine Fawcett (Douglas & McIntyre), The End Of Me by John Gould (Freehand), Swimmers in Winter by Faye Guenther (Invisible), Permanent Tourist by Genni Gunn (Signature Editions), Czech Techno by Mark Anthony Jarman (Anvil Press), Dominoes At The Crossroads by Kaie Kellough (Esplanade), Paradise Island and Other Galaxies by Micheal Mirolla (Exile Editions), and Goth Girls Of Banff by John O’Neill (NeWest Press).



Welcome to Stoop City, where your neighbours include a condo-destroying cat, a teen queen beset by Catholic guilt, and an emergency clinic staffed entirely by lovelorn skeptics. Couples counseling with Marzana, her girlfriend’s ghost, might not be enough to resolve past indiscretions; our heroine could need a death goddess ritual or two. Plus, Hoofy’s not sure if his missing scam-artist boyfriend was picked up by the cops, or by that pretty blonde, their last mark. When Jan takes a room at Plague House, her first year of university takes an unexpected turn—into anarcho-politics and direct action, gender studies and late-night shenanigans with Saffy, her captivating yet cagey housemate.

From the lovelorn Mary Louise, who struggles with butch bachelorhood, to rural teens finding—and found by—adult sexualities, to Grimm’s “The Golden Goose” rendered as a jazz dance spectacle, Kristyn Dunnion’s freewheeling collection fosters a radical revisioning of community. Dunnion goes wherever there’s a story to tell—and then, out of whispers and shouts, echoes and snippets, gritty realism and speculative fiction, illuminates the delicate strands that hold us all together.


Kristyn Dunnion grew up in Essex County, the southernmost tip of Canada, and now lives in Toronto. She is the author of six books, including Tarry This Night and The Dirt Chronicles, a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her short fiction is widely published, most recently in Best Canadian Stories 2020FoglifterOrca: A Literary Journal, and Toronto 2033. Dunnion works supporting homeless adults with serious mental illness, and has been a healthy food advocate for marginalized communities in Davenport-Perth, where she resides.


Order your copy from Biblioasis, or from your local bookstore!



IN THE MEDIA: Peninsula Sinking by David Huebert

Trade Paper $19.95
eBook $9.99

Peninsula Sinking offers up eight urgent and electric meditations on the mysteries of death and life, of grief and love, and never shies away from the joy and horror of our submerging world. Check out the buzz on David Huebert’s debut short fiction collection:

Quill & Quire: Book Review

“…establishes Huebert as one of Canada’s most impressive young writers … the stories are far-reaching, but tightly woven, each focused on characters in significant moments of development or change.” – Quill & Quire

Open Book: David Huebert on Inspiring a Dress Code, Being Haunted by Cows, and his Bachelorette Canada Connection

All Lit Up: Where in Canada – Peninsula Sinking

Western Gazette: ‘Sinking’ signals a career on the rise

“Huebert first captured the public imagination when “Enigma,” his short story about a woman grieving the death of her horse, won the CBC short story contest in 2016. His debut collection features Maritimers “marooned on the shores of being.” One of the many striking features of his work is his respect for the relations between humans and other animals.”– Chris Benjamin, Atlantic Books Today
“I absolutely loved this book. I’ve gone back and read stories multiple times, I have recommended it to countless people … It is descriptive and honest and real.”Bibliotaphs

CBC coverage

Plus! David’s CBC interviews have been all over CBC syndication lately!

And look for forthcoming coverage in:
-The London Free Press
-Dalhousie Review
-The Puritan