The Festival of Literary Diversity
Learn more about the powerful authors, poets and storytellers that will be taking part in this year’s festival.
Learn more about the powerful authors, poets and storytellers that will be taking part in this year’s festival.
The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) celebrates Canadian and international authors every year at its flagship festival in May.
Festival events include panels, discussions, workshops, and interactive events that allow guests from across Canada and around the world to participate in the festival. In 2020 and 2021, the festivals were held virtually, and also included virtual networking events for aspiring, emerging and established writers.
The FOLD will return in spring 2022 for a hybrid virtual/in-person festival, once again celebrating some of Canada’s and the world’s finest storytellers.
Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr is a speaker, author, and consultant with a passion for human development and connection. Her latest book is I Am Because We Are, out now with House of Anansi Press. She is the founder of She ROARs, an organization committed to coaching women of colour around the world to connect to their intuition and purpose. Her work is focused on harnessing the power of our interdependence with a foundation in the humanist African philosophy of Ubuntu, which celebrates our shared humanity. Chidiogo has lived and worked across four continents and speaks seven languages, including Mandarin, German, Spanish, and French, allowing for an even deeper connection with people. She led the growth and impact of the Global Shapers Community across Africa and the Middle East.
André Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada. His novel Fifteen Dogs won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His other books include Pastoral (nominated for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize), Asylum, Beauty and Sadness, Ingrid & the Wolf, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa and Lambton, and The Night Piece.
Kamal Al-Solaylee is the author of three books of nonfiction: Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (for Everyone), and Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From. He holds a PhD in English from Nottingham University and is the director of the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Dija Ayodele is the author of Black Skin, out now with HarperCollins.Dija is a Skincare Expert and founder of the award-winning Black Skin Directory. She is a contributing writer to Glamour Magazine, global corporate consultant and an advocate for inclusion and diversity at all levels of the British beauty industry.
Suzanne Barr is one of North America’s most respected chefs with a signature flair for fresh comfort food. Her latest book is My Ackee Tree: A Chef’s Memoir of Finding Home In The Kitchen. Her food is a reflection of her roots and is ever evolving as she travels the world refining her culinary storytelling and personal education.
S. Bear Bergman is the author of nine books, founder of Flamingo Rampant press, and frequent consultant in equity and inclusion to business and government. His most recent book is Special Topics in Being a Human, out now with Arsenal Pulp Press. Bear began his work in equity at the age of 15, as a founding member of the first ever Gay/Straight Alliance and has continued to help organizations and institutions move further along the pathways to justice ever since. These days Bear spends his time making trans cultural competency interventions however he can and trying to avoid stepping on his children’s Lego.
Curtis Carmichael is the author of Butterflies in the Trenches—the World’s First Augmented Reality memoir and 2021 Best Indie Book Award Winner for Inspirational Non-Fiction. His cross-Canada cycling tour Ride for Promise raised funds for Toronto Community Housing afterschool programs and was featured in an award-winning documentary, CBC, Global News, CityNews, Your Morning, CP24 Breakfast, and TEDx. Curtis is an award-winning social entrepreneur, STEM and hip-hop teacher, and founder of Source Code Academy Canada. As a self-taught computer programmer, Curtis built the mobile app which brings his memoir to life by giving readers access to hidden content throughout the book.
Kern Carter is a full-time freelance writer and author who has written and self-published two novels — Thoughts of a Fractured Soul (novella) and Beauty Scars. His latest book is Boys And Girls Screaming. When Kern isn’t penning novels, he curates stories through CRY Magazine, his online publication that creates space for artists to navigate through the emotions of their creative journey. He lives in downtown Toronto with his nineteen-year-old daughter.
Shakil Choudhury is an award-winning educator and author with over 25 years of experience in the field of racial justice, diversity and inclusion. He coaches executive teams and has worked with thousands of leaders across sectors across North America. Shakil also facilitates dialogue processes to resolve inter-group conflict, having led projects internationally. His book, Deep Diversity: A Compassionate Approach to Achieving Racial Justice, has been called a “breakthrough” book due to its non-judgmental approach that integrates psychology with critical race perspectives.
David Delisca is a writer, poet, actor and humorist. Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida residing in Scarborough. David Delisca is a writer, poet, actor and humorist. A versatile artist, he uses stories about the immigrant and diasporic experience, as well as other various human realities, to bridge realms of communication. His works and performances have been featured in the Toronto Star, CBC, and Netflix.
Habiba Cooper Diallo is the author of #BlackInSchool. She was a finalist in the 2020 Bristol Short Story Prize. She was also one of six finalists in the 2018 London Book Fair Pitch Competition. She is a women’s health advocate passionate about bringing an end to a maternal health condition called obstetric fistula. You can find her on Twitter @haalabeeba
Stephen Dorsey is a Canadian-born Business Strategist and Visual Media Producer with 30-years of global experience, and a respected community Leader, and public speaker. His debut book, Black and White, An Intimate, Multicultural Perspective on “White Advantage” and the Paths to Change was published in February 2022 by Nimbus Publishing.
Norma Dunning is an Inuk writer, professor and grandmother. Her book, Tainna (the unseen ones) received the Governor General’s award for literary fiction in English 2021. Her short story collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories (University of Alberta Press, 2017), received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story and the Bronze for short stories in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. She is also the author of Eskimo Pie (Bookland Press, 2020), a collection of poetry and an Alberta bestseller. Her second collection of poetry, Akia (the other side) is releasing in July of 2022. Norma Dunning lives in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kim Fu is a Canadian-born writer living in Seattle, Washington. Fu’s most recent book, the short story collection Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, received starred reviews from Quill & Quire, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Foreword. Her novel The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the OLA Evergreen Award, and her novel For Today I Am a Boy won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Fu’s writing has appeared in Granta, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Hazlitt, and enRoute.
Cynara Geissler (she/her) is the director of marketing and publicity at Arsenal Pulp Press, a leading Canadian independent book publisher in Vancouver, BC. Arsenal Pulp Press celebrated its 50th anniversary in fall 2021 and has over 400 titles currently in print, which include literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry; books on social issues; gender studies; LGBTQ2S+ and BIPOC literature; graphic novels and non-fiction; children’s and young adult literature; regional history; cookbooks; alternative crafts; and books in translation.
Chloe Gong is the New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and its sequel Our Violent Ends. She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Chloe is now located in New York pretending to be a real adult. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok under @thechloegong.
Shelly Grace is a Toronto-based spoken word poet. She uses her art for community building and healing and focuses on the experiences of women and the Black community. She previously released a chapbook, Sisters in Stanzas, with fellow poet Desiree McKenzie in 2020, which sold out very quickly. In 2019 she won the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word while on the Up From The Roots slam team, becoming a National Spoken Word Champion. In 2020 her piece “Atlantic” was shared with CBC Arts. She has worked with TTC, Toronto District School Board, and more.
Anais Granofsky is an actor, director, producer and writer. Best known for her role as Lucy Fernandez on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, she has directed and starred in a number of films. She is also developing a fictional TV series loosely based on her childhood. The Girl in the Middle is Granofsky’s first book.
Popular Instagram poet and artist Morgan Harper Nichols has created her life’s work around the stories of others. She also hosts a podcast, The Morgan Harper Nichols Show, where she shares daily reflections on finding meaning and peace in life and work. Morgan is often creating, teaching, and performing, in hopes of spreading her unique inspirational message and inviting others into her creative process. Her latest book, Peace is a Practice: An Invitation to Breathe Deep and Find a New Rhythm for Life, will be available nationwide February 15, 2022.
Farah Heron is the critically acclaimed author of romantic comedies for adults and teens filled with family, food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children, a rabbit, and two cats. Farah’s romantic comedy, Accidentally Engaged, was named one of the best books of 2021 by Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, NPR, CBC Books, Kobo, and more. Her young adult debut, Tahira in Bloom, was named one of the best books of the year by USA today. Her recent adult release, Kamila Knows Best is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma.
June Hur is the critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones, The Forest of Stolen Girls, The Red Palace, and A Crane Among Wolves. Born in South Korea and raised in Canada, she studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
Anosh Irani is a three-time Governor General’s Literary Award-shortlisted author and playwright, and a two-time winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play. His novel, The Parcel, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, National Post, CBC Books and The Walrus.
Dr. Shayda Kafai (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. As a queer, disabled, Mad femme of color, she commits to practicing the many ways we can reclaim our bodyminds from systems of oppression. To support this work as an educator-scholar, Shayda applies disability justice and collective care practices in the spaces she cultivates. Her latest book is Crip Kinship, out now with Arsenal Pulp Press.
H.N. Khan is a first-time author. His debut novel Wrong Side Of The Court is set to be published in spring, 2022 by Penguin Teen. Born in Pakistan, he immigrated to Canada at age seven and grew up in Regent Park, a low-income community housing project. After graduating with a business degree he decided to drop out of law school to pursue a career in Toronto’s start-up scene before setting his sights on writing.
Tsering Yangzom Lama is the author of We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and International Relations from the University of British Columbia, and an MFA from Columbia University. Born and raised in Nepal, Tsering has lived in Toronto, New York City, and Vancouver – where she now resides.
Premee Mohamed is an Indo-Caribbean scientist and speculative fiction author based in Edmonton, Alberta. She is the author of the novels Beneath the Rising (finalist for Crawford Award, Aurora Award, British Fantasy Award, and Locus Award) and A Broken Darkness, and the novellas These Lifeless Things, And What Can We Offer You Tonight, and The Annual Migration of Clouds. Her next novel, The Void Ascendant, is the final book in the Beneath the Rising trilogy and is due out in spring 2022. Her short fiction has appeared in many print and audio venues.
Omar Mouallem is an author, filmmaker, and educator. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, WIRED, and NewYorker.com, and his latest book, Praying to the West, was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2021. His documentary The Last Baron, about the unlikely link between a Canadian fast-food institution and the Lebanese civil war, was hailed as “one of the best Canadian food documentaries” by Air Canada’s enRoute magazine. Omar is also the “fake dean” of Pandemic University, a virtual school he founded in support of writers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with his family.
Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Shaw TV, Airbnb, in the film God in Pink: A Documentary, Breakfast Television Toronto, CTV Morning Live Saskatoon. He was recently named a writer to watch by CBC books. He is also the author of poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*Hug Press), children’s book The Name I Call Myself (2020, Arsenal Pulp Press) and Umbilical Cord (Book*Hug Press).
Sarena Nanua and Sasha Nanua are twin sisters living in Ontario, Canada. Born on Diwali ten minutes apart from each other, they grew up loving stories about twins and magic, and began writing books together when they were nine years old. They are graduates of the English and Professional Writing programs at the University of Toronto and are also the authors of The Pendant Trilogy. Their newest novel, Sisters of the Snake, is available now from HarperCollins.
Abdi Nazemian is the author of four novels. His first, The Walk-In Closet, won a Lambda Literary Award. His most recent, Like a Love Story, was awarded a Stonewall Honor, and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Audible, Buzzfeed, the New York Public Library and more. His screenwriting credits include the films The Artist’s Wife, The Quiet, and Menendez: Blood Brothers, and the television series Ordinary Joe, The Village and Almost Family. He has been an executive producer and / or associate producer on numerous films, including Call Me By Your Name.
Tolu Oloruntoba lived in Nigeria and the United States before settling in the metro area of Coast Salish lands known as Vancouver with his family. He spent his early career as a primary care physician, and currently manages virtual health projects with organizations in British Columbia. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, while his debut chapbook, Manubrium, was a bpNichol Chapbook Award finalist. The Junta of Happenstance, his first full-length collection, was the winner of the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Poetry.
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe is a writer, academic and lawyer. Her debut novel, The Son Of The House, was finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2021, won the Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2021, the SprinNG Women Authors Prize 2020 and the Best International Fiction Prize, Sharjah International Book Fair. She is at work on her second novel.
Author of Ballet is not for Muslim Girls, Mariam S. Pal grew up in Victoria but moved to Montréal to study economics at McGill. After two decades working in international development and relocating to both Africa and Asia, she returned to Montreal, earning her law degree from McGill. Mariam is now retired from her second career with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and lives in Montréal with her husband Eli. Mariam is working on her second book, a memoir of her life in international development: Eating Pineapple Upside Down Cake in Monrovia.
Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, mom of two, former English/Drama teacher, improv coach and union activist. Winner of the 2020 Helen Henderson Award for disability journalism, her fiction and nonfiction appear in literary and disability journals. Long-listed for the ReLit Award, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010) features a disabled teen in the Moonwalk-Woodstock summer of 1969. Her memoir, Falling for Myself, (Wolsak and Wynn, 2019), was a finalist for the Hamilton Book Award. Kerfuffle, the tale of an improv troupe making sense and nonsense of Toronto’s G20 protests, hits the stage this spring with Renaissance Press.
Reema Patel holds a B.A. from McGill University and a J.D. from the University of Windsor. After working in Mumbai in the youth non-profit sector and in human rights advocacy, she has spent the last ten years working in provincial and municipal government. Such Big Dreams is her first novel, an excerpt of which won the Penguin Random House Student Award for Fiction at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Toronto, where she currently works as a lawyer.
Anna Quon, a poet and novelist living in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), likes to make paintings and short animated films of her poems. Mixed-race, middle-aged and Mad, Anna has facilitated writing and creative arts workshops for people with lived experience of mental health diagnoses/ psychiatric histories for 15 years. Her first professionally published poetry chapbook, Body Parts, was released in 2021 by Gaspereau Press. Anna’s third novel, Where the Silver River Ends, which creates a trilogy with her first two unrelated stories, Migration Songs and Low, will be released in March 2022.
Zena Sharman is a writer, speaker, strategist and LGBTQ+ health advocate. She’s the author of three books, including The Care We Dream Of: Liberatory and Transformative Approaches to LGBTQ+ Health (published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2021). Zena edited the Lambda Literary award-winning anthology The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care. She’s also an engaging speaker who brings her passion for LGBTQ+ health to audiences of health care providers, students and community members at universities and conferences across North America.
Julietta Singh is a writer and academic whose work engages the enduring effects of colonization, current ecological crisis, and queer-feminist futures. She is the author of The Breaks (Coffee House Press, 2021), No Archive Will Restore You (Punctum Books, 2018) and Unthinking Mastery: Dehumanism and Decolonial Entanglements (Duke University Press, 2018). She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her family.
Sonya Singh is an author, writer, and storyteller who currently lives in Toronto, Canada. She’s a former entertainment reporter turned PR expert. Her debut novel Sari, Not Sari, slated for a spring release in ’22, is already generating serious advanced buzz (including being selected for the prestigious Debutante Ball). She also signed an international two book deal. Sonya wrote Sari, Not Sari, to laugh her way through some of her more disastrous breakups. In her spare time, you can find Sonya sipping on a matcha latte, enjoying a homemade pizza, or hanging out with her adorable dog, Moses Alexander.
Clayton Thomas-Müller is a member of the Treaty #6 based Mathias Colomb Cree Nation–also known as Pukatawagan–located in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Based in Winnipeg, Clayton is a senior campaign specialist with 350.org. Clayton is a campaigner, award winning film director, media producer, organizer, facilitator, public speaker and best selling author on Indigenous rights and environmental & economic justice. His latest book is Life in the City of Dirty Water.
katherena vermette (she/elle) is a Red River Métis (Michif) writer from Treaty 1 territory, the heart of the Métis Nation. She has worked in poetry, novels, children’s literature, and film. vermette received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses’ Company). The Break (House of Anansi) won several awards including the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was a bestseller in Canada. Her second novel, The Strangers (Hamish Hamilton) won the Atwood Gibson Writers Trust Fiction Prize and was named Chapters Indigo’s Book of the Year 2021.
Jack Wang is the author of We Two Alone (House of Anansi Press, HarperVia), winner of the 2020 Danuta Gleed Literary Award from the Writers’ Union of Canada for best debut collection in English. His fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Journey Prize. He has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and held the 2014-15 David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He teaches writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York.
Bethaney Wilkinson is a facilitator and champion of race-conscious leadership. She has dedicated more than a decade to exploring the intersections of community, racial justice, and social change—specifically in the organizational context. As author and founder of The Diversity Gap, Bethaney loves helping teams and leaders pair their good intentions for diversity with true cultural change.
Mary-Lou Zeitoun is a Palestinian Canadian author, essayist, arts journalist and activist. Her latest book is Jamilah At The End of The World. Her novel 13 was the YA winner of the 2008 New England Book festival award and she has published her more recent fiction in Taddle Creek and Canadian Notes and Queries.
The FOLD is a remarkable and wonderful event for authors and attendees alike. What an amazing community, dedicated to the vital need for inclusive stories and the critical role they play in building a better world.
Field Guide to the North American Teenager is my first novel and FOLD was my first Canadian literary festival. While American and Canadian culture overlap quite a bit, especially when it comes to bookshelves, Canadian literature is unique and I was very heartened by to be embraced by that community I consider home despite residing in the US. It was a homecoming I didn’t know I needed!
The Festival of Literary Diversity was an absolute joy–the organizers thought of *everything* and by anticipating authors’ needs, they freed us to focus on connecting with the audience and each other. There was no pretension, no posturing–just very genuine conversations with invested writers and engaged readers.
I have been to a lot of writers festivals and the FOLD is definitely near the top of the list of those I want to be invited back to.
Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.
Wherever I go in Canada and find another writer of colour, we eventually end up gushing about how great the FOLD is, how by normalizing diversity it liberates us to talk to audiences about craft. It’s hard to imagine the literary landscape returning to a prehistoric pre-FOLD era.
FOLD is a festival experience unlike any other I’ve had. The FOLD team strive to create a space that’s welcoming and engaging, while allowing for curiosity, ingenuity and the fostering of real community – and they succeed, every year.
The FOLD is one of the most important literary events on this continent. By focusing on diverse voices and giving authors space to share their stories and speak their truths, it is revolutionizing the writing and storytelling realm as we know it.
Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. Sharing diverse stories and listening to different voices that broaden my understanding of the world has impacted me as a person and motivated me as a writer.