The Festival of Literary Diversity
An overview of the festival schedule and speakers.
An overview of the festival schedule and speakers.
The new virtual experience boasts an interactive Lounge, an Exhibit Hall and new festival features like a virtual leaderboard and live chat functionality between guests and with booth reps in the publishing industry.
Individual passes are $39. The first 100 festival registrants in Canada will also receive a special FOLD 2021 gift pack. This year, we’ve added an opportunity to bundle passes with our 5 for $175 option. Register for the festival by May 1 and receive 2000 points on the leaderboard.
Patron Passes are also available to those in need.
Head to thefoldcanada.org/schoolgroups for more information on bringing a class to the festival.
Educators in the Peel District School Board, the Halton District School Board and the Upper Grand District School Board, should check their message board or emails for instructions on how to register for FOLD events or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antonio Michael Downing
Elisabeth de Mariaffi
francesca ekwuyasi is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Her debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread (Arsenal Pulp 2020) was long-listed for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize and is a contender for the 2021 Canada Reads. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging. You may find some of her writing in the Puritan, Winter Tangerine Review, Brittle Paper, Transition Magazine, the Malahat Review, Visual Art News, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, GUTS magazine and elsewhere.
Palestinian Quebecker Yara El-Ghadban is an anthropologist by training but has been writing since she was thirteen. She is the author of three novels, of which I Am Ariel Sharon is the first to be translated into English. She won the Canada Council of the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award in 2017, and in 2019 she was awarded the Blue Metropolis Literary Diversity Prize. She lives and writes in Montreal.
Sheung-King, Aaron Tang’s debut novel, You are Eating an Orange. You are Naked., is longlisted for Canada Reads 2021 and named one of the best book debuts of 2020 by the Globe and Mail. He teaches creative writing at the University of Guelph
Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author and LGBTQ-refugees advocate. His debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, won multiple awards and was translated to French, German and Hebrew. His children’s book, Salma the Syrian Chef is named amongst the Best Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews and Library School Journal. His forthcoming novel, The Foghorn Echoes, will be released in Summer 2022.
Eddie Lartey is a Hamiltonian wordsmith who is dedicated to and equally in love with poetic performance, community building. Eddie graduated from McMaster in 2015 from Political Science and Labour Studies and from Sheridan in 2017 with a diploma in HR Management. He is a founding member of Hamilton Youth Poets and has presented literary work and facilitated workshops across Canada and beyond. His poetry is a blend of heartfelt storytelling and literary wordplay.
Jayda Marley is a 19-year-old nationally acclaimed Afro-Indigenous poet of Ojibwe & Jamaican Descent, youth activist, and community healer from Tkaronto. As a former competing poet, Jayda holds the 1st place National championship title of “Voices of Today 2018.” She is also the founder and creative director of the new open mic series “For The Queer Coloured Girls After Me.” Most recently she is also one of the Founders of the Non-Profit movement Not Another Black Life.
Noyz is an author, rapper, spoken word artist, and community organizer from Brampton, Ontario. In addition to headlining shows in the US, UK, and across Canada, Noyz facilitates hip hop & mental health workshops where he engages with youth through the healing and transformational powers of music and songwriting.
Ben Philippe is an author and screenwriter. Born in Haiti and raised in Montreal, Ben has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He has written two Young Adult novels: The Field Guide To The North American Teenager, which won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, and Charming as a Verb. Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend is his first adult nonfiction book.
Eternity Martis is an award-winning journalist and author of the bestselling book They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life and Growing Up. She is an Adjunct Professor and Journalist-in-Residence at UBC.
Antonio Michael Downing
Antonio Michael Downing grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His 2010 debut novel, Molasses (Blaurock Press), was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada’s top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. His memoir Saga Boy was published by Penguin Random House Canada in January 2021 and his children’s picture book Stars In My Crown will be published by Tundra Books in Canada in 2021. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.
Makda Mulatu is a writer, editor, and podcast producer living on Treaty 6 territory in amiskwacîwâskahikan or Edmonton, Alberta. She writes mostly poetry — which has previously appeared in “Glass Buffalo” — and, alongside Jason Purcell, she co-produces the podcast “Glass Bookshop Radio”.
Jessica Johns is a nehiyaw aunty with English-Irish ancestry and a member of Sucker Creek First Nation in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. She is the Managing Editor for Room Magazine and a co-organizer of the Indigenous Brilliance reading series. Her debut poetry chapbook, How Not to Spill, co-won the 2019 BP Nichol Chapbook Award, and her short story “Bad Cree” won the 2020 Writers’ Trust Journey Prize and won silver at the 2020 National Magazine Awards. Her first book, Bad Cree, is forthcoming with HarperCollins Canada in 2023.
Brandon Wint is an Ontario born poet and spoken word artist who uses poetry to attend to the joy and devastation and inequity associated with this era of human and ecological history. Increasingly, his work on the page and in performance casts a tender but robust attention toward the movements and impacts of colonial, capitalist logic, and how they might be undone. In this way, Brandon Wint is devoted to a poetics of world making, world altering and world breaking. For Brandon, the written and spoken word is a tool for examining and enacting his sense of justice, and imagining less violence futures for himself and the world he has inherited. His first book of poetry, Divine Animal, is out now with Write Bloody North.
Syrus Marcus Ware
Tanya Boteju is a teacher and writer living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, BC). Part-time, she teaches English to clever and sassy young people. The rest of her time, she writes and procrastinates from writing. Her novel, Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens (Simon & Schuster, 2019), was named a Top Ten Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association. Her next YA novel, Bruised (Simon & Schuster, 2021), has been selected as a Gold Standard book by the Junior Library Guild. In both teaching and writing, she is committed to positive, diverse representation.
Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. He has shown in galleries and festivals across Canada. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. He is the co-editor or the best-selling Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (URP, 2020).
Kim Clark is a Nanaimo author, poet and wheelchair gimp. Clark’s newest literary work, A One-Handed Novel (Caitlin Press), takes an edgy dive into disability, sex, money and laughs. She has published short fiction and poetry, as well as co-editing the red-head anthology, Canadian Ginger (Oolichan Books) with Dawn Kresan. Her favourite festival audiences have been at Vancouver’s Growing Room Festival and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt. Kim’s incredibly excited to have just co-produced the STORYHIVE web-series pilot, “Disease & Desire” (based on her A One-Handed Novel) with Sara McIntyre.
Dominik Parisien is a writer, editor, and poet. He is the author of the poetry collection Side Effects May Include Strangers (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020) and his recent work has appeared in Maisonneuve, This Magazine, PRISM International, The Literary Review of Canada, and others. As an editor, his anthologies have won the Hugo, Shirley Jackson, British Fantasy, and Aurora Awards. Dominik is a disabled, bisexual French Canadian. He lives in Toronto.
Syrus Marcus Ware
As Program Consultant for Book Publishing at Ontario Creates, Bianca Spence administers the Trillium Book Awards and other programs that support the economic development of Ontario’s publishing industry. She has previously worked at the Canada Council for the Arts, Livres Canada Books, Cormorant Books, the Literary Press Group, and McClelland & Stewart. Bianca served as Co-Chair of the Women’s March in Toronto, and she sits on the Board of Directors for Project Bookmark Canada. When not at work, you can find Bianca championing a number of important artistic endeavours from literature to dance.
Brian Lam is the publisher of Arsenal Pulp Press. A graduate of the University of Victoria’s creative writing program, he has been with Arsenal since 1984, becoming co-owner in 1992. He is a former president of the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia, and current board member of the Association of Canadian Publishers. He won the Community Builder Award from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop in 2014, the Ivy Award from the Toronto International Festival of Authors in 2018, and the Publishing Professional Award from Lambda Literary in the US in 2020.
Bryan Ibeas is a Fiction Editor for Invisible Publishing.
Amanda Orozco is a literary agent at Transatlantic based out of Los Angeles with a breadth of experience in academic publishing, publicity, and subsidiary rights. She graduated from NYU with her Masters of Science in Publishing: Digital and Print Media. She has worked at the National Book Foundation, Shreve Williams Public Relations, and The Gernert Company, as well as in Subsidiary Rights at Little, Brown and Park & Fine Literary and Media. Amanda has been a member of PoCinPub since 2018 and currently works for Dryland, the literary journal born in South Central, where she aims to amplify marginalized voices.
Claire Harris is a literary agent at PS Literary acquiring a wide range of adult projects including rom coms, thrillers, contemporary fiction, family dramas, lifestyle guides, self-help, true crime, cultural criticism, and more. She loves stories set in the Midwest (especially in or near her home state of Wisconsin) and other underrepresented areas, and she is actively looking for books that support inclusivity. Diverse voices and great writing are always appreciated. One thing Claire loves is shining a spotlight on issues, people, and areas that aren’t often included in society’s narrative.
Lily Chu loves ordering the second-cheapest wine, wearing perfume all the time, and staying up far too late reading a good book. She writes romantic comedies set in Toronto with strong Asian characters. Her newest work is The Stand In, out in spring 2021 with Audible Originals.
Called “Canada’s answer to George R. R. Martin” by the Globe and Mail, Evan Winter, winner of the Reddit/Fantasy Award for Best Debut Fantasy Novel, is a Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and Locus best selling author of speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, is the opening to an epic fantasy quartet that began life as a self-published novel before being acquired for republication by Hachette’s Orbit Books. Most recently, TIME magazine named it one THE 100 BEST FANTASY BOOKS OF ALL TIME, and its sequel has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist.
Anita Chong is a Senior Editor at McClelland & Stewart, where she acquires and edits literary fiction and memoir. Recent titles include Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife; Genki Ferguson’s Satellite Love; Saleema Nawaz’s Songs for the End of the World; Michael Christie’s Greenwood; Sharon Bala’s The Boat People; and Richard Wagamese’s Starlight. Authors she is currently working with include Shashi Bhat, Brian Francis, Reema Patel, Alexander MacLeod, Tsering Lama, Amy Jones, and Jen Sookfong Lee. Anita is an active member of Penguin Random House Canada’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and one of the founders of its monthly BIPOC Forum.
Jim Gifford is Editorial Director, Non-Fiction, for HarperCollins Canada Ltd. He has acquired and edited works by numerous award-winning and bestselling authors, including Kamal Al-Solaylee, Mark Sakamoto, Mellissa Fung, Tara Westover, David Robertson, Linden MacIntyre, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Albert Woodfox, Max Eisen and Jamil Jivani, among many others. He is currently pursuing new works by a diverse authorship across many genres, from memoir to popular science and sports to popular history. He was a 2020 recipient of University College’s Alumni of Influence Award at the University of Toronto. He lives and works in Toronto.
Janie Yoon is Executive Editor at Simon & Schuster Canada. Previously, she was at House of Anansi Press, where she worked with bestselling and award-winning Canadian and international authors such as Tanya Talaga, Gil Adamson, Patrick deWitt, Ins Choi, Margaret MacMillan, Lawrence Hill, Ronald J. Deibert, Adam Gopnik, Neil Turok, Douglas Coupland, Behrouz Boochani, Cho Nam-joo, and Sofi Oksanen.
Marci Ien is a devoted Toronto community leader, award-winning journalist, author and Mother who has dedicated her life to providing a voice for those who need it most. Born and raised in Toronto, where she lives with her children Blaize and Dash, Marci has seen first hand the opportunities and challenges our city faces. Today, she serves as the voice of Toronto Centre constituents in the House of Commons and continues to fight for inclusion, equality and ensuring that everyone in Toronto Centre and across Canada have a fair chance at success.
Elaine “Lainey” Lui has been breaking entertainment news since the launch of her world-famous celebrity gossip website, LaineyGossip.com, and as a correspondent on CTV’s Canada’s #1 entertainment show, etalk. Also a co-host on CTV’s The Social, Lainey is recognized for her unique insights into Hollywood and pop culture, along with her sharp business acumen as a successful female entrepreneur.
Christina Myers is a writer, editor, and former journalist. She is the creator and editor of BIG: Stories About Life in Plus-Sized Bodies (Caitlin Press, 2020), a BC-bestselling collection of non-fiction by 26 writers from across Canada, the US and the UK. Her first novel – The List of Last Chances – will be on shelves in April 2021. She co-hosts a reading series just outside Vancouver, BC, for emerging and established writers of all genres.
Rabbit Richards is learning how to exist on stolen land in a marginalized body. They were born on occupied Lenape territory in Brooklyn, NY. Their family has never rooted for more than one generation anywhere for as long as their history can trace. Their father’s family claims Kyiv and Minsk; their mother’s family remembers St Thomas and St Croix, islands of the Carib, Arawak, and Ciboney. Relentlessly compassionate with fierce integrity, Rabbit is passionate about anti-oppression and accessibility work and is deeply invested in the conversations that are provoked by their art.
Sonja Boon is a researcher, writer, teacher, and flutist who lives in St. Johns, Canada. Passionate about stories and storytelling, she is the author of What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (WLU Press, 2019), a memoir that traverses five continents and spans more than two centuries. Sonja’s creative non-fiction essays appear in published anthologies as well as in Geist, The Ethnic Aisle, and ROOM, among others. For six years, Sonja was principal flutist and a frequent soloist with the Portland Baroque Orchestra (Oregon).
Jo Jefferson is a Toronto-based queer writer, parent, and community worker who grew up in Nova Scotia. Their poetry, short fiction, and personal essays have been published by Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, Understorey Magazine, Syracuse Cultural Workers, and in various anthologies. Jo’s first novel, Lightning and Blackberries, was released by Nimbus Publishing in 2008. They write about apocalypse, queerness, weather, travel, and family. When they’re not writing or reading, Jo hangs out with their kids, works with queer elders at a community centre, plays softball, explores the world, and facilitates workshops with curious creators of all ages.
Léonicka Valcius is a Literary Agent at Transatlantic Agency, representing commercial and genre fiction for adults and children. As the founder of #DiverseCanLit and the founding Chair of the Board of Directors of The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), working with writers of colour is a key part of Léonicka’s mandate. Léonicka previously worked at Penguin Random House Canada and at Scholastic Book Fairs Canada. For more of her work visit her website, her Twitter, and her Instagram.
Ronan Sadler is the Editorial Coordinator at Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint. After a Master’s in Critical Disability Studies, Ronan left academia and returned to their first love: stories. They joined the Carina Press editorial team as a freelancer for two years before moving in-house.
Aeman Ansari is an editor at HCC. She acquires, commissions, and edits narrative-driven fiction and non-fiction with a focus on books by BIPOC authors. She has a particular interest in projects that showcase authentic voices, nuanced narratives, and intersectional identities. Before joining the HarperCollins Canada editorial team in 2020, she was a literary assistant at CookeMcDermid Literary Agency, a freelance editor helping authors from marginalized communities develop their work, and a journalist with pieces published across North America that center on race, identity and popular culture. Aeman is also a co-founder of the non-profit organization BIPOC of Publishing in Canada, which is dedicated to pushing for a more diverse and inclusive industry and provides frontline support to BIPOC employees in Canadian publishing.
andrea bennett is the author of Like a Boy but Not a Boy, a book of essays out now with Arsenal Pulp Press.They are a National Magazine Award–winning writer and editor. They live in Powell River, BC, on the territory of the Tla’amin people, just a quick couple fjords/ferry rides north of Vancouver.
Iva Cheung (MPub, PhD) is a Certified Professional Editor, indexer, and researcher who worked as an in-house editorial coordinator at Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books and now freelances, specializing in plain language editing and training. She is an active member of Editors Canada and has won the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence, the Karen Virag award for promoting the editing profession, and the President’s Award for Volunteer Service. She is an advocate for accessibility and equity in editing and publishing and co-creates communications with members of underrepresented communities.
Jael Richardson is the author of The Stone Thrower, a book columnist on CBC’s q, and the founder and the Executive Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD). Her debut novel, Gutter Child, was published in January 2021 with HarperCollins Canada. She lives in Brampton, Ontario.
Cheryl Thompson is an assistant professor in the School of Creative Industries at Ryerson University. She is author of Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture. Her newest book, Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty was published in February 2021 with Coach House Books.
Phenderson Djélì Clark is the award winning and Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His short stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is a founding member of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons. His debut novel A Master of Djinn will be published by Tor.com in May 2021.
Therese Estacion immigrated to Canada from Cebu, a city in the Visayan region of the Philippines, when she was a child. After recently becoming a bilateral below the knee and partial hands amputee, she began writing poetry that explores the topics of grief, disability, Filipino culture and memory. Her work has been published by the CBC, CV2, EdgeNorth, Homesick Zine, Pank Magazine, and the Yellowknifer. Her first book of poetry, Phantompains, will be released by Book*Hug in the spring of 2021. She is currently studying at Toronto’s Centre for Training in Psychotherapy and has a little dog named Scooby.
Amanda Leduc is a writer and disability rights advocate. She is the author of the novel The Centaur’s Wife (Random House Canada, 2021), Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House Books, 2020), and The Miracles of Ordinary Men (ECW Press, 2013). Her essays and stories have appeared across Canada, the US, and the UK, and she has spoken across North America on accessibility, inclusion, and disability in storytelling. She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she serves as the Communications Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.
Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist, illustrator and printmaker hailing from Haines Junction (Yukon Territory) with a BFA in Illustration from Emily Carr University. Residing in Vancouver, Pauls focuses on his two comic series, the first being Pizza Punks: a self contained comic strip about punks eating pizza, the other being Dakwäkãda Warriors. In 2017, Pauls won Broken Pencil Magazine’s Best Comic and Best Zine of the Year Award for Dakwäkãda Warriors II. In 2020, Dakwäkãda Warriors won Best Work in an Indigenous Language from the Indigenous Voices Awards and was nominated for the Doug Wright Award categories, The Egghead & The Nipper.
Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup, with a k) is the author of Made in Korea. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit her online at sarahsuk.com and on Twitter and Instagram @sarahaelisuk.
Khary Mathurin is a bookseller and education support manager at Another Story Bookshop, where he promotes the store’s values of equity and social justice by helping educators update their bookshelves with more diverse titles. When he’s not immersed in the world of books, he can be found spinning tracks and working with sound as DJ K.
Nekesa (Nuh-kes-ah) Afia (Ah-fee-ah) is a Canadian millennial who is doing her best. When she isn’t writing, she is either sewing, swing dancing, or actively trying to pet every dog she sees. Dead Dead Girls is her debut novel.
Carrie Jenkins is an award-winning philosopher and writer. She is Canada Research Chair in Philosophy at the University of British Columbia and holds a PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She is the author of What Love Is and What It Could Be and Uninvited: Talking Back to Plato. Her first novel, Victoria Sees It, will be published in 2021 with Strange Light, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. Carrie reads Tarot cards and lives with two sphynx cats.
Nadine Matheson has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. She was born and lives in London and is a Criminal Defence Lawyer and teaches Criminal Law. In 2016, she won the City University Crime Writing Competition and completed the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller Novels) MA at City University of London with Distinction in 2018. Her debut novel is The Jigsaw Man.
Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the critically acclaimed author of three books: the Giller-nominated short story collection How to Get Along with Women (2012), the literary thriller The Devil You Know (2015), and the 1950s-era Hitchcock-style thriller, Hysteria (2018.) Both novels were Globe and Mail Best Books and shortlisted for the prestigious Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Elisabeth has taught fiction at UBC, Memorial University, and through the Humber School for Writers. Her newest novel, The Retreat, is coming July 2021 from HarperCollins Canada and Mulholland Books USA.
Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of the critically acclaimed Khattak/Getty crime series, and the Khorasan Archives fantasy series. She holds a Ph.D. in international law, and frequently writes about human rights issues. Blackwater Falls, her new crime novel, will be published by Minotaur in 2022. Ausma currently lives in Colorado with her husband.
Samantha Garner is based in Toronto, and also called Calgary home for nine years. Her short fiction and poetry has previously appeared in Broken Pencil, Sundog Lit, Kiss Machine, The Fiddlehead, Storychord, WhiskeyPaper and The Quarantine Review. She can be found online at samanthagarner.ca. Her first novel, The Quiet Is Loud, is out in May 2021 with Invisible Publishing,
Terese Mason Pierre is a writer, editor and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Augur Magazine, a Canadian speculative literature journal. She has volunteered with poetry reading series, facilitated creative writing workshops, and she is the author of chapbooks, Surface Area and Manifest.
Haudenosaunee Kanien’kéhà:ka & Mi’kmaw L’sitkuk, Canadian Poet Of Honor, Mahlikah Awe:ri is an Afro-Indigenous Artist For Social Change, “Shifting paradigms through Indigenized ways of knowing and being; while reimagining what it means to be “In-Relation”, to the Land and to each other”. Awe:ri is an acclaimed Spoken Word Artist, Arts Educator, Musician, Land Defender, Water Protector, Public Speaker, Performance Artist, Curator, Futurist Writer & Digital Artist. Mahlikah is a Paula Fund Awardee for her acclaimed solo work Tionnhéhkwen Tionnká:non, and a contributor for the first Black Canadian Afro-Furturism Anthology: Cosmic Underground Northside: An Incantation of Black Speculative Discourse & Innerstandings.
Bilal Hashmi is Executive Director and Publisher of Quattro Books. He teaches Urdu at the University of Toronto, where he obtained his BA and MA in English before pursuing advanced studies in comparative literature at New York University. He is the President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and also serves as translators’ representative on the Public Lending Rights Commission of Canada. Since 2018, he has been involved with the bilingual literary translation magazine ellipse, as one of its editors. His annotated English translation of ‘Aziz Ahmad’s modernist Urdu novel Flight (Gurez; 1945) is forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Oonya Kempadoo resides in Canada and is a UK, Guyanese, Grenadian citizen. She is the author of three novels, two of which were nominated for the Dublin Impac Prize. Her latest novel is All Decent Animals. Her work, critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic, has been long-listed for the Orange Prize, translated into six languages and on Oprah Winfrey’s Summer Reads. Winner of a Casa De Las Americas prize, she was named a “Great Talent for the 21st Century” by Orange Prize judges. Kempadoo is a Fulbright Scholar alumni, consultant/researcher with an interest in cross-disciplinary dialogue and is co-founder of the Grenada Community Library.
Editor, translator, and essayist Dimitri Nasrallah is the author of three novels, most recently 2018’s The Bleeds. He was born in Lebanon two years into the country’s 15-year civil war, and lived in Kuwait, Greece, and Dubai before moving to Canada in 1988. His first novel, 2005’s Blackbodying, won the Quebec’s McAuslan First Book Prize and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. His second novel, 2011’s Niko, won the QWF Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and was nominated for CBC’s Canada Reads and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He is the fiction editor at Véhicule Press.
Bahar Orang is a writer and physician-in-training living in Toronto. Where Things Touch is her first book.
Jonny Sun is the bestselling author and illustrator of everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too and the illustrator of Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He was a writer for the Emmy-nominated sixth season of the Netflix Original Series BoJack Horseman. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and McSweeney’s. Time magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet, and his TED Talk on loneliness that has been viewed online more than 3.5 million times. As a doctoral candidate at MIT and a creative researcher at the Harvard metaLAB, he studies virtual place and online community. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Yale and his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Toronto. His latest book is Goodbye, Again, which publishes on March 23.
Meichi Ng is the creator of Barely Functional Adult, a webcomic series she started back in 2015. She recently published her first book, Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually, where she shares a never-before-seen collection of illustrated short stories about exes, murder, friendship, therapy, anxiety, identity, heartbreak, being a Hufflepuff, freaking out about things, calming down momentarily, melodrama, wrinkles, pettiness, and other wonderful delights.
DeRo is one of the most decorated Canadian athletes of our generation. He is a 4-time MLS Cup Champion, the 2011 MLS MVP, 2-time MLS Cup MVP (2001, 2007) and was named to the MLS Best XI six times (2005-07, 2009-1). In 367 MLS regular season and playoff matches, he scored 109 goals with 82 assists. DeRo also put together an impressive international career with the Canadian Men’s National Team. He finished as the all-time leading goal scorer for his country with 22 goals and third all-time with 81 caps and stands. He was also named Canadian player of the year on four occasions and in 2012 was named to Canada’s all-time XI. DeRo’s primary objective – and arguably his biggest contribution – is his commitment to the community. His first book, co-authored with Brendan Dunlop, is DeRo: My Life, out now with ECW Press.
Brendan Dunlop is a Canadian sports television anchor and writer that has covered World Cups, UEFA Champions League finals and international matches for theScore, FOX Soccer, Sportsnet and OneSoccer. DeRo: My Life, the autobiography of Dwayne De Rosario, is his first book project. Brendan grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and currently lives in Toronto with his wife Elena and their rescue dog Sampson. In addition to sports, he has a passion for languages and travel.
H. Nigel Thomas is a retired professor of United States literature. He has published dozens of essays in literary journals and anthologies as well as eleven books that include five novels and three collections of Short stories. His novel Spirits in the Dark was nominated for the QSPELL Hugh MacLennan Fiction Award; and No Safeguards, another novel, was nominated for the Paragraphe Quebec Writers’ Federation Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize. His novel Easily Fooled will be published in 2021. He is the founder and English-language coordinator of Lectures Logos Readings.
Trey Anthony is an award-winning writer, motivational speaker, and relationship/life coach. She is the first black woman in Canada to have a television series on a prime-time network. Her work includes the plays, ‘da Kink in My Hair and How Black Mothers Say I Love You. Trey’s life purpose is to empower women to live their best damn lives! Her new book, Black Girl in Love (with herself), published by Hay House, will be available January 2021. She divides her time between Atlanta and Toronto. She is an adoption advocate and the proud momma bear to her son Kai. In her spare time, she enjoys laughing at herself and all her antics and eating cupcakes! Follow Trey on Instagram @blackgirlinlove and visit treyanthony.com to learn more about her.
Louisa Onomé is a Nigerian-Canadian writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University. Like Home is her first novel. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, crying over her favourite video games, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.
Ian Williams is a poet and fiction writer. He is the author of five books, including the poetry collection, Word Problems, and the novel, Reproduction, which won the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He grew up in Brampton, moved to the US, then Vancouver, and now he teaches English at the University of Toronto. He is currently at work on a collection of essays.
Anoosha Syed is a Pakistani-Canadian illustrator and character designer for animation. She is the illustrator of APALA Honor Book Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, as well as I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown and Jason Rachel Brown, the Monster and Boy chapter book series by Hannah Barnaby, and more. Some of her past clients also include Google, Netflix, Dreamworks TV and Disney Jr. In her spare time, Anoosha hosts a Youtube channel focusing on art education. Anoosha has a passion for creating charming characters with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. She lives in Toronto with her husband.
Omer lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she serves as the Kids Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD).
Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland, grew up in Trinidad and lives in Canada. She is a fiction writer and visual artist. Her novels, including Cereus Blooms at Night, Valmiki’s Daughter, Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, and her most most recent, Polar Vortex, have been nominated for Various prizes, including The Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Tawhida Tanya Evanson is an Antiguan-Québecoise poet, author and artist. Her two poetry collections are Bothism (Ekstasis 2017) and Nouveau Griot (Frontenac 2018), and her debut novel, Book of Wings, is forthcoming from Véhicule Press in 2021. With a 20-year practice in spoken word, Evanson performs internationally and has released several studio albums and videopoems. In 2013, she was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and received the Golden Beret Award for her contribution to the genre. She is program director of Banff Centre Spoken Word and moonlights as a whirling dervish.
Rachel Giese is an award-winning journalist and author, and is the editorial director of Xtra, an online magazine covering LGBTQ2S+ politics, activism, culture, health, sex and relationships. Her book Boys: What it Means to Become a Man was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Favourite Books of 2018 and won the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Polticial Writing.
Arianne Des Rochers is a translator, scholar and educator from Montreal. She is Assistant Professor of Translation at the Université de Moncton, in New Brunswick. As a literary translator, she has (co)translated works by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Joshua Whitehead and Vivek Shraya.
Born in Port-au-Prince (Haiti), raised in Saguenay (Quebec), Stanley Péan is the author of 25 books: novels, short stories collections, essays, juvenile fiction. He also hosts and coproduces a jazz program that airs every week night on ICI Musique, Radio-Canada’s all music radio network.
Luciana Erregue (She/Her) is an Argentinian-Canadian art historian, writer, and editor. Luciana is the owner of Laberinto Press, specialized in underrepresented Canadian-hyphenated writers and literature in translation. She is a Banff Centre Literary Arts alumni, a former Edmonton Artist in Residence, and a recipient of the Edmonton Arts Council Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award. Luciana maintains her blog Spectator/Curator where she writes about art and life as a visible minority woman in the Canadian arts scene. She lives in Edmonton, AB.
Shahir Massoud is best known as the former host of CBC’s The Goods, Man of the Kitchen, and Around the World in 10 Meals. He is a frequent guest on The Marilyn Denis Show, and has appeared on Cityline, Breakfast Television, Your Morning, and the CW network. He is also a spokesperson for the Butterball brand. Shahir is a graduate of the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, and the French Culinary Institute in New York. He is the author of Eat, Habibi, Eat!, out in May.
Nathan Adler is author of Wrist and Ghost Lake, and co-editor of the Bawaajigan anthology. He is Jewish, Ojibwe, and a member of Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, is a first-place winner of the Aboriginal Writing Challenge, and a recipient of a Hnatyshyn Reveal award for Literature.
A veteran broadcast-journalist, Shelagh Rogers is the host of The Next Chapter, the CBC Radio program devoted to writing in Canada. In 2011, she was named an Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Her off-air time is dedicated to speaking about truth, respect and reconciliation and to taking the stigma out of mental illness. She has known Thomas King since 1993. She is honoured to be participating at FOLD.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the bestselling author of the novels Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters).
K. J. Aiello is a Toronto-based writer. Her work, including book and film reviews, essays and features, has been published in The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Toronto Life, eTalk, This Magazine, Room Magazine, and others. She was a moderator at the 41st Toronto International Festival of Authors. K. J. lives with mental illness.
Bardia Sinaee was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives in Toronto. His poems have appeared in magazines across Canada and in several editions of Best Canadian Poetry. He holds an MFA from the University of Guelph, where he was nominated for the Governor General’s Gold Medal. His first book is Intruder (Anansi, 2021).
Bunmi Laditan is an author, poet and tea drinker living in snowy Quebec, Canada by way of sunny California. Her latest book is Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens (2021).
Cicely Belle Blain is a Black/mixed, queer femme from London, UK now living on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people. Their ancestry is a mix of Gambian (Wolof), Jamaican and English. At the heart of all their work, Cicely Belle harnesses their passion for justice, liberation and meaningful change via transformative education, always with laughter, and fearlessly in the face of systemic oppression.They are noted for founding Black Lives Matter Vancouver and subsequently being listed as one Vancouver’s 50 most powerful people by Vancouver Magazine in 2018 and again in 2020, BC Business’s 30 under 30 and one of Refinery29’s Powerhouses. Cicely Belle is the author of Burning Sugar, out now with Arsenal Pulp Press.
Tenille K Campbell is a Dene/Métis author from English River First Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and is enrolled in her PhD program at University of Saskatchewan. Her inaugural poetry book, #IndianLovePoems (Signature Editions, 2017) is an award-winning collection of poetry that focuses on Indigenous Erotica – using humour and storytelling to reclaim and explore ideas of Indigenous sexuality. Her newest collection, Nedi Nezu, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in spring 2021. She is also the artist behind sweetmoon photography and the co-creator of the women’s blog, tea&bannock.
Natasha Ramoutar is an Indo-Guyanese writer by way of Scarborough (Ganatsekwyagon) at the east side of Toronto. She is the Social Media Assistant at the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) and the Fiction Editor of Feel Ways, an anthology of Scarborough writing. Her first poetry collection Bittersweet was published by Mawenzi House in 2020.
Brittany Lavery (she/her/hers) started her publishing career in 2009 with an internship at The Cooke Agency (now CookeMcDermid) and moved on to positions at the University of Toronto Press and Penguin Random House Canada, joining Graydon House in 2015. She has worked with debut authors, NYT bestsellers, and award-winners. Brittany is looking for buzzworthy book club ﬁction that speaks to our zeitgeist, with a particular emphasis on queer and Own Voices stories. With any submission, a fresh voice and a juicy commercial hook are key! Her current author list includes Tarryn Fisher, Megan Angelo, Jenny Lecoat, Karen Hamilton, Hester Fox, and Kate Bromley.
Errin Toma (she/her) is the editorial assistant for Desire along with two other lines at Harlequin, joining the company in 2019. Before her editorial career at Harlequin, she worked in various publishing positions across the industry. She’s thrilled to be reading and editing Romance and is looking to build her list with trope-heavy stories featuring a fresh and flirty voice, high sensuality, and compelling stakes, especially from BIPOC authors. When she’s not working, she’s busy spending time with her friends & family, watching true crime and paranormal documentaries, and constantly re-arranging her bookshelves to fit more books.
Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with ofttimes conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both. Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Lin likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters. Her books are diverse romances featuring queer and disabled people of color.
After a childhood raised on Bollywood, Monty Python, and Jane Austen, Farah Heron wove complicated story arcs and uplifting happily ever afters in her daydreams while pursuing careers in human resources and psychology. She started writing those stories down a few years ago, and never looked back. She writes romantic comedies for both adults and teens full of huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two teenagers, a rabbit, and two cats who rule the house.
Alicia Cox Thomson has been in the media industry for 20 years, working as a digital and social media editor for Chatelaine, Flare and HGTV Canada. She has been published in Chatelaine, Flare, Today’s Parent, CBC Life, Elle Canada, Refinery29, Best Health and more. Alicia is currently working on a romance novel and raising two great kids with her husband in Hamilton.
Jasmine Guillory is the New York Times bestselling author of six romance novels, including The Wedding Date, The Proposal, and the upcoming While We Were Dating. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, and Time. She lives in Oakland, California.
USA Today Bestselling author Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world. Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post, and Kirkus’s Best Books of the year lists. She has won the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer Choice Award for best contemporary romance, multiple RT Seals of Excellence, is a RITA® finalist, and has been listed for the Dublin Literary award. Shelf Awareness calls her “Not only one of the best but one of the bravest romance novelists working today.” She lives in Chicagoland where she fights her husband and two visiting adult children over spoiling the world’s most perfect dog.
Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist in Ontario, Canada. She writes about strong, audacious, beautifully flawed Nigerian women much like the ones in her life.
Sonya Lalli is a romance and women’s fiction author of Indian heritage. Her books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Glamour, The Washington Post, CBC, The Toronto Star and more. Her debut novel The Matchmaker’s List was a Target Diverse Book Club Pick, Cityline Book Club Pick, and Apple Best Book of the Month. Grown-Up Pose (2020) was a Globe and Mail national bestseller and Amazon Best Book of the Month. Serena Singh Flips the Script is her latest novel.
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.