Next Week at Biblioasis: We Welcome Benedek Totth, author of DEAD HEAT

The winner of Hungary’s Margó Award for Best First Book of Prose soon to be available in English:


Written by Stephen King’s Hungarian translator, Dead Heat shocks and then stays with you. It’s like Lord of the Flies meets Friday Night Lights. 

Next week Benedek will be at the bookstore (1520 Wyandotte St E) on Friday, October 25 at 7 PM. Come on out for an unforgettable reading! 

Can’t make Friday? He will be in Ann Arbor at Literati Bookstore the night before! Here are the details.

🏊 🏊 🏊 🚗 🚗 🚗 🚬 🚬 🚬 ☠️ ☠️ ☠️ 🏊 🏊 🏊

Born in Hungary in 1977, Benedek Totth studied American literature and now works as an editor and translator in Budapest. His translations into Hungarian include works by Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Hunter S. Thompson and William S. Burroughs. Dead Heat, his first novel, caused a sensation in Hungary, where it won the Margó Prize for best first novel of the year. It has been published in translation in France and Slovakia.


In a nameless Hungarian town, teenagers on a competitive swim team occupy their after-training hours with hard drinking and fast cars, hash cigarettes and marathons of Grand Theft Auto, the meaningless sex and late-night exploits of a world defined by self-gratification and all its attendant recklessness. Invisible to their parents and subject to the whims of an abusive coach, the crucible of competition pushes them again and again into dangerous choices. When a deadly accident leaves them second-guessing one another, they’re driven even deeper into violence.

Brilliantly translated into breakneck English by Ildikó Noémi Nagy, Dead Heat is a blistering debut and an unforgettable story about young men coming of age in an abandoned generation.

🏊 🏊 🏊 🚗 🚗 🚗 🚬 🚬 🚬 ☠️ ☠️ ☠️ 🏊 🏊 🏊

“This is a satire of the bleakest strain: there is scarcely a page that does not offend. And yet the result is utterly enthralling…As savage, reckless, and abhorrent as the world Totth delivers is, what’s worse is how frighteningly real it all feels. Dead Heat is an undeniably uncomfortable novel, but so too is the truth it’s trying to get at.”—Quill and Quire, starred review

“Totth’s novel and its translation from the Hungarian by Nagy both excel… in conveying the banality and numbness as its narrator proceeds through this parade of horrors.The juxtaposition of transgressive behavior with competitive sports recalls nothing quite so much as Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries. Like that book, the way in which this narrative is told makes for compelling reading even as the acts it describes can inspire shudders. Totth’s debut is a harrowing experience but also a frequently gripping one.”—Kirkus

“Let’s say it up front: reading Dead Heat, the Hungarian writer Benedek Totth’s first novel, is a shock . . . [like] the cry of love and desperation flung out by a generation that’s finished before it can begin, before it can even reach maturity.”—Yann Perreau, Les Inrockuptibles

A brilliant novel, but brilliant like a black diamond and cursed so that you don’t want to hold it, a tale that never lets you go, no matter how much repugnance you may feel.”—Encre Noire

Intense, brutal and relentless. As on a mad merry-go-round, you’re delighted not to be able to get off before it’s over. But watch out: the harsh form and subject matter will leave more modest readers shaken.”—TéléStar


Thanks for Celebrating Our Anniversary with Us!


To chance the ducks: to do something despite the risk of disaster.


This October, Biblioasis has been celebrating fifteen years in the publishing business–and what a fifteen years they’ve been! From a one-person operation, the press has grown to publish thirty books a year; this year Biblioasis books have been nominated for the Giller and finalists for the Governor General’s and Booker prizes, just to name a few of the press’s accolades.

We’re deeply grateful for the wonderful writers we publish and for the wonderful readers whose support allows us to keep doing what we do.

We’re grateful for the media who have brought our story wider attention.

And we’re grateful to the more than 225 supporters and friends who came out to help us celebrate in Windsor and Toronto last week, including our six fabulous featured readers:

K.D. Miller is the author of two previous short story collections (Give me Your Answer and Litany on a Time of Plague), a novel (Brown Dwarf), and an essay collection, Holy Writ. Her work All Saints was shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2014 Frank O’Connor Award. She read from her story collection Late Breaking, currently shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award in the English Fiction category. She lives and writes in Toronto.


Stéphane Larue was born in Longueuil in 1983. He received a master’s in comparative literature at L’Université de Montréal and has worked in the restaurant industry for the past fifteen years. He lives in Montréal. He read from The Dishwasher, his first book.


Pauline Holdstock, who read from Here I Am!, is an internationally published novelist, short fiction writer and essayist. Her novels have been shortlisted for a number of awards, among them the Best First Novel Award, the Scotia Bank Giller prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her historical novel Beyond Measure was the winner of the BC Book Prizes Ethel Wilson Award for Fiction. The Hunter and the Wild Girl, her most recent book before Here I Am!, won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. Pauline lives just outside Victoria on Vancouver Island.


Catherine Leroux, who read from Madame Victoria, was born in 1979 in the Northern suburbs of Montreal. After holding various jobs she became a journalist and devoted herself to writing. Her first novel, Marche en forêt, was published in 2011 by Éditions Alto, and her newest novel is Madame Victoria (Éditions Alto, 2015). The Party Wall, her English-language debut published with Biblioasis in 2016, was selected for Indies Introduce for Summer/Fall 2016, was shortlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and won the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Translation.


Taras Grescoe, who read from Possess the Air, is the author of seven non-fiction books, including Sacré BluesThe End of ElsewhereThe Devil’s PicnicBottomfeederStraphanger, and Shanghai GrandBottomfeeder won the Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-fiction, and was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. He has contributed to the New York TimesThe GuardianThe New YorkerGourmet, and The Wall Street Journal. His books have been translated into half a dozen languages. He lives in Montreal.


Martha Wilson read from Nosy White Woman. Her fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories 2017 and in the New Quarterly. She was runner-up for the 2017 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Prize and a finalist for the New South 2018 fiction prize. Her writing has also been in Real Simple, New York Times, Japan Times, Kansai Time Out, and International Herald-Tribune. She is American but for more than twenty years has made her home in Canada, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


Thank you, everyone, for fifteen glorious years. Here’s to the next fifteen!

Happy Canadian Pub Date to Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock

Today is the Canadian pub date for Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock!

If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

You’ll love Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock!



🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃

Here I Am!

Sometimes I forget that MyMum is dead. But that is probably better than remembering.

When Frankie’s mother dies, the six-year-old comes up with a plan: go to France, find a police station, and ask the officers to ring his father—and so begins Giller-nominated Pauline Holdstock’s eighth novel. Narrated in turns by Frankie, who likes cheese, numbers, the sea when it’s pink and “smooth like counting,” and being alone when he feels bad, and a cast of characters that includes his Gran and his father, Here I Am! is a mesmerizing story about innocence lost and found.

I would describe it as a cozy weekend read. I curled up with it on a Saturday after I had just read a really long book, and I finished it on Sunday. It reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—just like those books, it’s narrated by a lovable kid who sees the world his own way, and doesn’t let the fact that he’s a kid keep him from going on a unique quest.

Though Here I Am! isn’t based on a true story, author Pauline Holdstock was inspired by an actual case in the US where a kindergarten child had had to go home and spend the night with the dead body of her mother because her teacher didn’t believe her when she said her mother had died.


🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃 🚢 🏃

You can read an excerpt here.



Hat trick Tuesday! DREAM SEQUENCE by Adam Foulds and LATE BREAKING by KD Miller Nominated for 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize!

On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, it was announced that Dream Sequence by Adam Foulds and Late Breaking by K.D. Miller have been longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Dream Sequence and Late Breaking are published by Biblioasis, an independent literary press based in Windsor, Ontario. Since 2004, Biblioasis has published contemporary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literature in translation. Another Biblioasis book, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019 just this morning.

In a statement, publisher Dan Wells said, “Well: it’s been a busy morning indeed around the Bibliomanse.  On the heels of Lucy Ellmann’s Booker shortlisting for Ducks, Newburyport comes two Giller nominations here in Canada: for Adam Fould’s Dream Sequence and K.D. Miller’s Late Breaking.  And if we were euphoric after Ducks, we’re positively moon-walking now. We’re so happy for all three authors. And it’s certainly not a bad way to kick off our 15th Anniversary year.”

Miller said, “This is such an affirmation. Always, in the back of a writer’s mind are the questions, ‘Will anyone want to read this? Will anyone enjoy and be moved by it?’ Getting the news about being long-listed for the Giller Prize was like hearing an enormous ‘Yes!’ to all that.  Thank you!”

Foulds said, “I am hugely honoured that Dream Sequence has been included on this longlist. It is a particular thrill as a new Canadian to receive this recognition from one of Canada’s most storied cultural institutions.”



Henry Banks, star of the UK’s most popular television series, has higher aspirations, ones befitting of his talent: a serious film career, beginning with a role in a brilliant Spanish director’s next movie. To make the jump to the big screen, he’ll have to remake himself in more than one way. But as he runs his morning miles and scrutinizes his changing physique in the mirror, he doesn’t know that he’s not alone in his obsession—Kristin, an unstable American fan, has her own lofty ambitions. From the author of Man-Booker shortlisted The Quickening MazeDream Sequence is a moving depiction of psychological damage and the unsettling consequences of fame.

Adam Foulds is a poet and novelist from London, England, now resident in Toronto. He has been the recipient of a number of literary awards, including the Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year, the Costa Poetry Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the South Bank Show Prize for Literature, the E. M. Forster Award, the Encore Award, and the European Union Prize For Literature. His 2009 novel, The Quickening Maze, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2010. He was named as one of Granta Magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013 and of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets in 2014.


Inspired by the work of Alex Colville, the linked stories in K.D. Miller’s Late Breaking form a suite of portraits that evoke the paintings’ looming atmospheres and uncanny stillness while traveling deeply into their subjects’ vividly imagined lives. Throughout, the collection bears witness to the vulnerability of the elder heart, revealing that love, sex, and heartbreak are not only the domain of the young, and deftly rendering the conflicts that divide us and the ties that bind.

K.D. Miller is the author of two previous short story collections, Give Me Your Answerand Litany on a Time of Plague, and an essay collection, Holy Writ. Her work has twice been collected in The Journey Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Stories, and she has been nominated for a National magazine Award for Fiction. She lives and writes in Toronto.


“Dream Sequence succeeds as a narrative thanks to Foulds’s prose. He doesn’t waste a single word, is frequently very funny, insightful and surprising. And he does a marvelous job of making us wonder who loves Henry the most, Kristin or Henry—and which of these possibilities is the most alarming consequence of celebrity.”
New York Times Book Review

“The quality of the prose carries the book beyond conventions, as Mr. Foulds is able to conjure, with the unsettling immediacy of a person breathing against your neck, both Henry’s and Kristin’s private fixations and fantasies.”

The Wall Street Journal

“Adam Foulds is one of the best fiction writers working today. Dream Sequence possesses all the hallmarks of his previous books–emotional acuity, beautiful prose–and also a seductive plot and an ingenious structure. It’s a great novel. I read it practically in one sitting.”
—David Bezmozgis, author of the Giller-shortlisted The Free World

Dream Sequence notices everything . . . Description is intimate and visceral, scratching at the glossy surface of the lives of the characters and underpinning the ‘vacuum’ they move through, together but apart . . . This is a novel of screens, of echoes and constant counterpoint, driven by changes in light as much as its reflective plot where matters of ‘acting’ are paramount … [a] shimmering novel.”
Times Literary Supplement (TLS)

“[An] entertainingly skewering new novel about ambition and obsession.”
Toronto Star

“An outstanding and unyielding exploration of celebrity, fame, and all its attendant obsessions…Foulds’s novel is fun, smart, and tense, part psychological drama about media-driven obsession and part razor-sharp social critique.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[Dream Sequence] is an exquisitely concocted, riveting account of artistic ambition and unrequited love verging on obsession . . . Foulds is proving himself to be a versatile writer of intelligence and charm.”
The Spectator


“A deft, nuanced, and human collection of stories. K.D. Miller’s gaze catches both humour and darkness in a wide variety of relationships. A thoroughly captivating book.” —Rebecca Rosenblum

“An undercurrent of the surreal pulses through 10 linked stories…sensitive portrayals of the fragility of love and ubiquity of need. ”—Kirkus Reviews

“If K.D. Miller had produced nothing other than “The Last Trumpet,” the opening entry in this collection of linked stories, she would still have a place on any list of this year’s best fiction. Taking up themes of aging, loneliness, and regret, “The Last Trumpet” is one of the saddest, most affecting pieces of short fiction to appear in this country in recent memory. But that story is just the first blast in a collection that is consistently engaging and assured. The stories in Late Breaking—loosely tied together by recurring characters, a focus on aging and death, and the paintings of Alex Colville—are moving and beautifully written.” —Steven W. Beattie

“Compulsively readable. Like an Alex Colville painting . . . the longer you look, you realize there’s something darker going on underneath the surface. My favourite book so far this fall.” —CBC Ontario Morning

“Miller’s attentiveness . . . is touching . . . The stories themselves are rich with coherence, meaning, and suggestion, and part of what makes them so satisfying is the space they leave free for us to engage with them and find our own interpretation.” —Quill & Quire

“Each of the 10 stories is introduced by a haunting Colville image . . . These paintings, through mood and theme, serve as prompts for the stories, with characters often wandering in from one verbal canvas to another. Refreshingly, the stories feature people in their 60s experiencing big fat emotions that younger writers often deny them.” —Toronto Star

“These stories plumb the depths of sadness and despair but never lose sight of their obverse: the quiet resilience and dignity of the human spirit, which doesn’t fade with age.” —Hamilton Review of Books

Lucy Ellmann’s DUCKS, NEWBURYPORT Shortlisted for 2019 Booker Prize


On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, it was announced that Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann has been shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize!

Booker Judge Joanna MacGregor said,  “Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport offers a radical literary form and voice. Dense to look at, challengingly epic, the novel is built around one Ohio housewife’s monologue, flowing with dazzling lightness and speed. The detritus and maddening complexity of domesticity unfold in one breath, over a thousand pages. Shards of film plot and song collide with climate change anxiety; the terrors of parenting, healthcare and shopping lists wrestle with fake news and gun culture. The narrator reverberates with humour, wordplay and political rage. The writing resonates like a dissonant yet recognisable American symphony for massive forces, with riffs and themes folding back, proliferating, and gradually cohering. Its one long sentence occasionally breaks to simply describe a mountain lioness and her cubs: a meditation on nurture that will be wrapped into the violence of the ending. Lucy Ellmann has written a genre-defying novel, a torrent on modern life, as well as a hymn to loss and grief. Her creativity and sheer obduracy make demands on the reader. But Ellmann’s daring is exhilarating ― as are the wit, humanity and survival of her unforgettable narrator.”

In a statement, Ellmann said, “In my book I suggest you should never tell people you’re happy, in case they wreck it for you. That’s why I’m having trouble writing this statement about getting put on the Booker shortlist. The fact is I’m euphoric.”

Biblioasis publisher and founder Dan Wells said, “We, too, are euphoric.  Ducks, Newburyport is a brilliant book, one of the most important we’ve been a part of as publishers.  It’s a book for our times, full of rage and sorrow and wonder, a revolution in book form, and now, because of the Booker jury’s endorsement, many more Canadian readers will discover it than might otherwise have been the case.  It’s very gratifying.

“A few months ago, we came across the nineteenth century phrase, “to chance the ducks”: it means, essentially, to do something regardless of the risks or potential for disaster.  Which pretty much describes what independent publishers around the world — with a special nod to our British counterparts, Galley Beggar Press, who first alerted us to Lucy’s magisterial novel — do every day.  It’s gratifying that with Ducks in particular the risk looks to be rewarded.  We’re all very grateful. To chance the ducks, indeed.”

Ducks, Newburyport will be published in the United States and Canada on September 10 by Windsor, Ont.-based press Biblioasis. Biblioasis titles have won the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Rogers Fiction Prize, two Governor General’s Literary Awards and Trillium Book Awards, as well as seen ten nominations for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Referred to by the Globe and Mail as “the first truly great Canadian press of the 21st Century,” Biblioasis celebrates its fifteenth year publishing fine books this October.

The news comes on the heels of an extraordinary burst of critical praise for the novel, with the Los Angeles Review of Books writing it “could possibly turn out to be the most important novel of the decade … Read Ducks, Newburyport. This is a novel for the idea of America today.”

The Irish Times called it “Breathlessly brilliant … an extraordinary achievement of wit and imagination … this isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.”

Baking a multitude of tartes tatin for local restaurants, an Ohio housewife contemplates her four kids, husband, cats and chickens. Also, America’s ignoble past, and her own regrets. She is surrounded by dead lakes, fake facts, Open Carry maniacs, and oodles of online advice about survivalism, veil toss duties, and how to be more like Jane Fonda. But what do you do when you keep stepping on your son’s toy tractors, your life depends on stolen land and broken treaties, and nobody helps you when you get a flat tire on the interstate, not even the Abominable Snowman? When are you allowed to start swearing? With a torrent of consciousness and an intoxicating coziness, Ducks, Newburyport lays out a whole world for you to tramp around in, by turns frightening and funny. A heart-rending indictment of America’s barbarity, and a lament for the way we are blundering into environmental disaster, this book is both heresy—and a revolution in the novel.

One of the premier literary awards in the English-speaking world, the Booker carries a prize purse of £50,000 and has recognized outstanding fiction since 1969. Chair of the 2019 judges, Peter Florence, said of the list’s authors: “Imagine our world, familiar from news cycle disaster and grievance, with wild humour, deep insight and a keen humanity. These writers offer joy and hope.”

Awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland; this year’s panel is Afua Hirsch, Liz Calder, Xiaolu Guo and Joanna MacGregor, chaired by Peter Florence. Last year’s winner was Milkman by Anna Burns. Previous winners include Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie.

Lucy Ellmann’s first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A LamentDot in the UniverseDoctors & Nurses, and Mimi. Her short stories have appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies, and she has written for the New York TimesWashington PostGuardianIndependentTimes Literary SupplementTelegraphNew Statesman, Bookforum and The Baffler, among others. Though American by birth, she lives in Scotland.


“Breathlessly brilliant … an extraordinary achievement of wit and imagination … this isn’t just one of the outstanding books of 2019, it’s one of the outstanding books of the century, so far.”—The Irish Times

Ulysses has nothing on this … Once you get going, you’ll be too absorbed to stop.”Cosmopolitan

“Could possibly turn out to be the most important novel of the decade … Read Ducks, Newburyport. This is a novel for the idea of America today.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“It’s a book that quite restores our faith in the possibility of literary ‘greatness’ while questioning what forms such ‘greatness’ can or should take. It is certainly, in its humane range and weight, a Great American Novel. Is it any good? Oh my word, yes. Reading it at this point in times seems like an act of human solidarity, a commitment to the world of truth and reason.”—Literary Review

“A wildly ambitious and righteously angry portrait of contemporary America.”—The Observer

“[Readers] will recognise Ellmann’s dauntless cataloguing of desires, her refusal to be anything but self-directed … It’s a book about a mother’s love, but also about loss and grief, and anxiety dreams about Donald Trump, and despair about mass shootings … It is also a catalogue of life’s many injuries and mishaps … and of the simple joys and consolations of memory and imagination. [A] triumph.”—The Guardian

“A remarkable portrait of a woman in contemporary America contemplating her own life and society’s storm clouds … brilliant.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A jaw-dropping miracle.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Mesmerizing, witty, maximalist…a bravura and caring inquiry into Earth’s glory, human creativity and catastrophic recklessness, and the transcendence of love.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Resplendent in ambition, humour and humanity … dizzying … a lifetime of memories hoarded and pored over, like the family heirlooms the narrator and her husband have inherited along with all the joy and desolation contained within them … In Ducks, Newburyport Ellmann has created a wisecracking, melancholy Mrs Dalloway for the internet age.”—Financial Times

For more information about Ducks, Newburyport, please see the attached press kit. For a review copy or to schedule an interview with the author, call 519-915-3930, or write to Chloe Moore at


Biblioasis is a literary press based in Windsor, Ontario. Since 2004 we have published the best in contemporary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literature in translation.

Happy U.S. Publication Date, MOSTARGHIA!


U.S. Readers: The Wait Is Over!

Donald Winkler’s English translation of Maya Ombasic’s Mostarghia, a moving memoir of refugee experience and filial love, is available today in U.S. bookstores.



In the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies Mostar, a medieval town on the banks of the emerald Neretva, which flows from the “valley of sugared trees” through sunny hills to reach the Adriatic Sea. This idyllic locale is the scene of Maya Ombasic’s childhood—until civil war breaks out in Yugoslavia and the bombs begin to fall. Her family is exiled to Switzerland, and after a brief return, they leave again for Canada. While Maya adapts to their new home, her father never does, refusing even to learn the language of his new country.

A portmanteau of Mostar and nostalgia, Mostarghia evokes Ombasic’s yearning for a place that no longer exists: the city before the civil war, when its many ethnicities interacted in a spirit of civility and in harmony. It refers as well to Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic film Nostalghia, the viewing of which illuminated the author’s often explosive relationship with her father, a larger-than-life figure who was both influence and psychological burden: he inspired her interest, and eventual career, in philosophy, and she was his translator, his support, his obsession. Along with this portrait of a man described by turns as passionate, endearing, maddening, and suffocating, Ombasic deftly constructs a moving personal account of what it means to be a refugee and how a generation learns to thrive despite the struggles of its predecessors.


Praise for Mostarghia

“Fascinating and timely…anybody who wants to think deeply about what happens when people are forced to leave their homelands will want to pick this book up.” —Book Riot

“Intimate, a filial cri de cœur…The book is run through with dark humour, and some of the most fatalistic scenes are also wryly funny…The condition of nostalgia is both dissociative and cleaving, and it is this tension that Ombasic most adeptly conveys.” —Montreal Review of Books

“Strikes a great balance between the ebb and flow between unemotional observations that provide context for the lasting divides in the Balkans, and a humanization of the victims of conflict….[Ombasic writes] with a tender care that evokes a sadness mixed with levity, anger mixed with love.” —The Walleye

“After her father dies, Ombasic seeks to resolve all that was unresolved between them in life. Her memoir ripples with the tension of these two great hearts each trying to shoulder an outsized burden… Subtly and with lyricism, Ombasic unpacks her father’s role in her history alongside the role of their hometown, Mostar, not to mention the Balkans, religion, communism, war, displacement, and nostalgia.” Foreword Reviews (starred review)

“With great candor, Ombasic shares how her experience as a refugee differed from her father’s…Through beautiful prose and impressive attention to detail, Ombasic paints a loving yet honest portrait of her father in all his complexity.” —OpenCanada

“An overwhelming homage, clear-eyed and drenched in tenderness, Mostarghia is driven by Maya Ombasić’s strong, sensitive voice, which allows us to glimpse the reverse side of the shadow of exile. Magnificent.” –Le Devoir (Montreal)

“In an unadorned style, which contains emotion by restricting itself to facts, the author recounts her years during the war, then her exile in Switzerland, then Canada. The book’s strength stems in large part from its ability to show the concrete daily consequences of a war from which the family suffers without participating in it directly, to showcase the absurdity of the issues–ethnic, religious, territorial–from which children and parents feel themselves estranged.” –Le Monde (Paris) 

“The book, its title inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia, is a daughter’s love song to her father and the tale of her salvation, her refusal to be defeated by depression in order to move on.” –l’Humanité (Paris)


Happy US Pubdate to Stéphane Larue’s THE DISHWASHER!

“Reads like a cross between the dearly departed Anthony Bourdain and Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, combining the complicated life of a kitchen wretch with a highly literate voice…hypnotizing.”—Kirkus



The Dishwasher

It’s October in Montreal, 2002, and winter is coming on fast. Past due on his first freelance gig and ensnared in lies to his family and friends, a graphic design student with a gambling addiction goes after the first job that promises a paycheck: dishwasher at the sophisticated La Trattoria. Though he feels out of place in the posh dining room, warned by the manager not to enter through the front and coolly assessed by the waitstaff in their tailored shirts, nothing could have prepared him for the tension and noise of the kitchen, or the dishpit’s clamor and steam. Thrust on his first night into a roiling cast of characters all moving with the whirlwind speed of the evening rush, it’s not long before he finds himself in over his head once again. A vivid, magnificent debut, with a soundtrack by Iron Maiden, The Dishwasher plunges us into a world in which everyone depends on each other—for better and for worse.

Translated into English for the first time by Pablo Strauss

30,000 copies sold in Quebec alone
(pop. 8.3 mil)

Winner of the Quebec Booksellers’ Prize

Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award
for French-language Fiction



Check out what other booksellers have already said about The Dishwasher:


The Dishwasher is a gruff-yet-affable working class lament, seasoned with hangdog determination and bleary verisimilitude. From the bar booths to the slop sinks to the shooting galleries of a painstakingly rendered Montreal, Larue proves himself a more than adept raconteur of blackout debauchery and wage labor drudgery. Think Nelson Algren by way of Bud Smith, such is the hardscrabble exactitude on offer in this wincing grin of a novel. An industrious and absorbing slab of cutthroat cuisine, Québécois death metal, and gambler’s dilemmas.”
—Justin Walls, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)


“Prepare to get your soul scrubbed down and wrung out. This novel from Quebec captures a world that will be familiar to folks in the service and music industry. Vividly painted scenes from the trenches of a barely-functional kitchen during a rush followed by dizzying late-night get togethers make up this portrait of the loneliness of late-capitalism and the strength we can find from art and our allies. Gritty, loud, and compassionate.”
Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)


“I’ve never been to Montreal but I have worked in restaurants and Stéphane Larue’s The Dishwasher made me feel as if I do know that world in great, mad, detail. More importantly, it goes so beyond being a food industry novel or a novel about metal or gambling, it is a book that is both tender and tough. I appreciate this book for all that it must’ve taken to create–it is a wondrous thing.”
—Hans Weyandt, Milkweed Bookstore (Minneapolis, MN)


“A simple story of a want-to-be-artist that has to come to terms with the reality of his vices and get out of his own way. The pacing and phrasing of this novel is in beautiful contrast to the raw story told. The sense of place is unforgettable. From the behind the scenes look of working in a restaurant to the weight of addiction, I devoured every page as I found myself hopeful for the underdog in this brilliant debut.”
—Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)


“All I did last weekend was read The Dishwasher.”
—Caitlin Luce Baker, Island Books (Seattle, WA)


The Dishwasher is a tragi-comic adventure through the dark underbelly of a high end Montreal restaurant kitchen that follows a down on his luck 30-something brilliantly talented artist with fabulous taste in music and a little gambling addiction.  As much a  philosophical dive into life, love, trust, obsession, and heavy metal as just a damn good story, the Dishwasher made me laugh, cringe,shake my head and  drool over amazing food. I absolutely just couldn’t put this  quirky cool debut novel by Canadian author Larue that is just perfect for fans of David Sedaris or Anthony Bourdain.”
Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)



Mike Barnes’s BE WITH Shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award!

We’re thrilled to announce that Mike Barnes’s thoughtful, compassionate nonfiction book Be With has been shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award.

The jury wrote: “Caregiving for loved ones is a topic often left out of contemporary writing. In Be With, Mike Barnes lifts the curtain on his own experiences with dispatches to anonymous caregivers/loved ones living with the fallout of Alzheimers disease. This slim volume is filled with wisdom for the moments when caregivers may need it most—the long periods of uncertainty while waiting. While Be With may be directed to those who need it most, its in-depth look at human connection is relatable to anyone.”

“It’s wonderful that a book all of us care so much about here at the press has made this shortlist alongside such fine company,” said Biblioasis publisher and founder Dan Wells. “Mike Barnes’s Be With is a book about care, and is as generous and profound and beautiful a book as there is on the subject: We’re thankful that the jurors saw the value in this slim wonder of a book.”

Be With: Letters to a Caregiver is what its title promises: four dispatches to an anonymous long-term caregiver. In brief passages that cast fresh light on what it means to live with dementia, Barnes shares trials, insights, solace—and, ultimately, inspiration. Meant to be a companion in waiting rooms, on bus routes, or while a loved one naps, Be With is a dippable source of clarity for harried readers who might only have time for a few lines or paragraphs. Mike Barnes writes with sensitivity and grace about fellowship, responsibility, and joyful relatedness—what it means to simply be with the people that we love.

Established by Toronto City Council in 1974, the Toronto Book Awards honour authors of books of literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto. The annual awards offer $15,000 in prize money: finalists receive $1,000 and the winning author is awarded $10,000. The Toronto Book Awards celebrates books that are evocative of Toronto.

The other shortlisted authors are Ian Williams (Reproduction), Cary Fagan (The Student), Dionne Brand (Theory), and Didier Leclair (This Country of Mine). The winner will be announced at a ceremony October 2 at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at 759 Yonge St.



“Timely, lyrical, tough, accurate.”

Margaret Atwood



Annette Hamm, CHCH-TV


“My heart lodged in my throat and my eyes stayed glassy over the brief duration of Be With: Letters to a CaregiverIt’s a lovely, loving, and unflinching work … He shares knowledge (“The truth is, there’s no graceful way to take control of someone’s life away from them”) and he asks questions (“How much room in your own heart?”) any caregiver must consider. He also asserts his primary insight: “But being with in person trumps all else. It’s the one way of caring most likely to be right, and the least likely to be regretted. ”

Toronto Star


“Barnes shares a tender exaltation…with a clear and melodic tenor; there’s poetry in his myriad introspections, and a willingness to put everything on the table, good, bad, and heart-wrenching. This is a powerful book for those who have experienced similar trials, regardless of length of time or severity.”

Publishers Weekly


“In their simplicity and even-handed tone, the letters achieve their author’s difficult aim: they present as a literary Third Man, a friendly, authoritative voice in the dark that will lead its at-the-end-of-their-tether listeners through to the endgame…What really matters, he concludes, is the hardest thing, being there with her. ‘For every thousand pages describing how living is shattered by this dread disease, there should be at least one page observing how living goes on within it.’ Be With has 156 pages of them.”

Literary Review of Canada


“Powerful…the short, digestible letters are written with a realistic understanding of busy, exhausted caregivers’ time and energy and stay true to the book’s title, emphasizing the deceptively simple need to just “be with” – to witness, see, and accept. Poignant but never heavy-handed, it’s a relevant and empathetic book that meets caregivers where they are.”
Open Book


“The particulars of Mary’s dementia give this brief book universal appeal. The author effectively humanizes himself as a man who has made errors, who wishes he had done things differently, and who has his own psychological burdens to bear…A book that tells the reader that you are not alone, whoever you are.”

Kirkus Reviews



Mike Barnes is the author of ten books of poetry, short fiction, novels, and memoir, including the novel The Adjustment League and The Lily Pond: A Memoir of Madness, Mystery, Myth and Metamorphosis. He has won the Danuta Gleed Award and a National Magazine Awards Silver Medal for his short fiction, and the Edna Staebler Award for nonfiction. He lives in Toronto.


A Biblioasis Interview with Maya Ombasic, author of MOSTARGHIA

Maya Ombasic’s gorgeous, lyrical memoir Mostarghia arrived in Canadian bookstores this week! (Don’t worry, U.S.—it will appear there in a week and a half.)



Maya sat down and answered some of our questions about the book Le Devoir called “An overwhelming homage, clear-eyed and drenched in tenderness, Mostarghia is driven by Maya Ombasić’s strong, sensitive voice, which allows us to glimpse the reverse side of the shadow of exile. Magnificent.”

For those who are coming to your work for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I was born in a country that no longer exists, in a place where living alongside people of different cultural identities was as natural as breathing. Everything that’s come since (for almost three decades now) has been an attempt to understand why the country no longer exists and how I can make sense of the whole experience, first as a daughter and a sister, and then as a mother, a woman, and an artist. How to survive after a physical and metaphysical disaster? Because once you’ve been awakened from your cozy and happy childhood, had your roots torn away, and been forced onto a boat that will take you forever away from the reassuring valley you’ve called home, the universe is no longer a warm and benign place. Today there are several geographic locations in the world where I feel “good,” but no place offers the unique metaphysical reassurance of “home.” The war that ended my childhood also destroyed that for me.

I do not like the words integration, assimilation, success story, because I do not believe there’s any such thing as successful exile. Why? Because the whole process inevitably leaves behind what the human being holds most sacred: the feeling of belonging to a place, a language, a culture, a territory from which the meaning of life emerges. To have those sacred bonds brutally torn away is to face, at the age of twelve, brutal nonsense. I learned very quickly that it was now up to me to give my life meaning, while also keeping in mind that not everyone can, or wants to, “custom-make” their own life’s meaning. This is the experience I try to relate in this book through the emblematic figure of my father, who is not a “successful” immigrant. Of course—and inevitably—questions of memory, transmission, identity, and exile (or what they really mean, on a metaphysical level) have become my obsessive quest.

Your book takes its title from a portmanteau of Mostar, the city where your father and you both were born, and Nostalghia, the title of an Andrei Tarkovsky film. What about this film made it so important to the way you tell your father’s story?

My father died at the age of 54. During his short life, but especially during the early years of our exile, I lived and grew up in the shadow of a tragically Slavic man. He could have a fit over anything. He could fall without warning into long moments of melancholy in which he recited by heart his favourite poet, the Russian Sergei Essessine; at the same time, he could be extremely funny, because he was a master of self mockery. I have often tried to understand him, without success—he was unpredictable and elusive.

Then one day, by chance, I came across the film Nostalghia. It was being screened in a small Parisian cinema that was doing a retrospective of Andrei Tarkovsky’s whole filmography. As I watched that movie, I had the impression of meeting my father, not only in the main character, the poet Gorkachov, but also in the filmmaker’s eye: his choice of shots, his landscapes and his colours, which all speak unanimously the language of nostalgia. The protagonist, in exile in Italy and on a quest to learn about a sixteenth-century Russian artist who lived in Italy, cannot overcome his melancholy and homesickness. He wants to return to Russia, but it seems impossible. Later, I read Tarkovsky’s biography. He, too, lived in forced exile, far from his family and friends; nostalgia emerged as the main theme of his artistic quest.

When I discovered Tarkovsky’s work, I understood my father better (not to mention that physically they looked as alike as two drops of water).


Early in the book, you equate learning a language with accepting a social contract. Can you elaborate on this idea?

From the moment we put aside our mother tongue in order to learn the languages that will help us integrate into our new society, we sign a new social contract. Not to learn its language is necessarily to be outside of a society. My father never wanted to go through this process; whether that was a positive choice or simply out of spite, I do not know. What is certain is that he willingly remained outside of Canadian society and the Canadian social contract, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

Let’s start with the worst: I was his assigned translator, his indispensable crutch; he had no contact with the outside world that did not pass through me. As for the best: he had direct access to reality beyond language and the social contract. He had an amazing ability to understand situations, people, and the world beyond language. In other words, he had a direct experience of life. As he was a visual man, he pictured reality, especially in metaphorical images. This is an advantage in itself, because it allowed him to access emotion directly, without going through the intellect or the cogs and gears of language. But his linguistic handicap was above all a burden for me.

Talk a little bit about the part Cuba plays in your book.

Coming from a socialist country on the old continent, I belong to a whole generation for whom Cuba represented an admirable satellite led by idealistic warriors demanding a more just world. And when you’re young, you need ideals. As a teenager, I was desperately in love with Che Guevara because he represented my masculine ideal: a handsome, long-haired, dark and gloomy figure, but also a poet, a doctor, and a revolutionary. Then there’s my father’s love for Cuba, this utopian island where the promise of communism had not yet failed as it had elsewhere on the planet.

In the book there is a whole chapter on Cuba where I try to explain the disenchantment that comes when those ideals meet reality. In that chapter, when my father realizes that all in Cuba is not really as he imagined it, it’s like a nail in the wound his exile has already created. He has to come to terms with the realization that his lost paradise will never be found. From that moment, he sinks into a melancholy that will continue until the end of his life.

I have to add that, consciously or unconsciously, I married a gloomy long-haired Cuban who looks like Che Guevara, so my daughter is also half Cuba. Fantasy imitates reality and vice versa . . .

How do your experiences as a philosophy teacher and as a documentary filmmaker affect your approach to writing?

I’m often asked how I manage to do all of this at once, but for me, all these practices come from the same starting point. In other words, it is the same vibration, the same source, the same inspiration that unfolds in different forms. As much as the teaching of philosophy nourishes me on a daily basis, not only because I am obliged to update my knowledge, but also to share it with my students who in turn bring me a lot, the documentaries or the images on the screen offer another visual language that influences my writing. I believe in the power of images, whether visual, cinematographic, literary, or philosophical. For example, the image of the Sun of Knowledge in Plato remains vivid for me. When we come to knowledge—true knowledge—we come out of the darkness to feel enlightened . . .

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Amin Maalouf’s Naufrage des civilisations (Shipwreck of Civilizations). He is an author that I admire a lot, and his latest book puts into words what I have been feeling for some time: that we’re living through the decline of civilization and the return of barbarism. Depressing book, but necessary for all those who are trying to understand our time.

Kathy Page’s beloved The Story of My Face re-released August 6

In less than a week, Kathy Page’s marvel of a novel, The Story of My Face—first published by Orion/Phoenix House in 2003—finally comes back into print under the Biblioasis banner.

Natalie Baron, a neglected teenager, is drawn into the life of Barbara, an older woman who invites her along on her family’s religious retreat. She soon discovers that their curious habits and beliefs result from their membership in a Protestant sect: Finnish Envallism. Though some members of the community reject Natalie as an outsider, the mutually fulfilling relationship between the two women leads Barbara to reveal a dangerous secret that sets into motion a devastating series of events. Years later, the adult Natalie, now a respected academic, travels to Finland to research the origins of Envallism and tries to understand the things that happened to her in her youth.


Critics loved The Story of My Face.

“Quietly powerful, with considerable emotional depth: an intriguing account of tortured faith and thwarted desire.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“One of the most compelling, unsettling novels I’ve read in ages, which should appeal to fans of classy thrillers and literary fiction alike.”

—Sarah Waters

“[Page’s] writing, mostly in the present tense, is lit with an immediate sense of period, summoning images which are by turns softly painterly, sharply filmic or as murky as those first television images of the moon landing.”

—Aisling Foster, TLS

“Incredibly evocative and haunting . . . it keeps you reading, wanting to uncover both Natalie’s past and that of Tuomas Envall.”

—Clare Heal, Sunday Express

“An elegantly compelling story of how a young girl’s obsession forever changes the lives of those around her.. a disciplined exploration of the complexity of human motivation and our need for redemption.”

—Lynne Van Luven , Vancouver Sun

“A most impressive achievement.”

—Jessica Mann, Daily Telegraph

“A compelling and unpredictable journey . . . beautifully written, rolls on at a rapid pace and delivers a satisfying punch at the end.”

–Christine Pountney, Toronto Star

“A moving, absorbing story . . . Kathy Page writes beautifully.”

—Helen Dunmore, author of A Spell of Winter

Kathy Page took a few minutes to talk to Biblioasis about The Story of My Face.

For those who are coming to your work for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’ve written eight novels and three collections of short fiction. I’d say I’m versatile writer, and perhaps unusually so. So each of my books is very different to the others, but common elements often mentioned in the reviews are vivid, complex characters and relationships, suspenseful plots, and fluent prose.

I was born in England and spent much of my early life there. Like most writers I’ve done various day jobs and held numerous writer’s residencies, including one for a year in a Category B men’s prison in the UK, about which I wrote in my novel Alphabet. I moved to Canada with my family in 2001; I now live on Salt Spring Island and teach part-time at Vancouver Island University.

This is a novel about a girl’s relationship with a chosen surrogate mother-figure. What made you want to explore chosen family in this novel?

I think children in difficult or dysfunctional family situations like Natalie’s often seek out intense “surrogate” relationships with adults who are not their biological parents. I certainly did, and that has very likely informed the story, though I should say that the teenaged Natalie is nothing like me, and was inspired by a girl from a small village who tried to “adopt” me when I was hiking and camping in France . . . Natalie is a deprived and very damaged child; writing The Story of My Face, I was fascinated by the power and intensity of Natalie’s need for mothering, and drawn to explore where it led and how far she would go. A long way, it turned out, and she does not always play fair; people get hurt and she almost dies . . . But in the end, this is an optimistic story: she does survive, change, progress.

Exploring relationships is what drives me to write. I’m especially interested in the unconventional, messy, and less than textbook-perfect kind: they make for better stories.

Why Envallism? What prompted you to invent this sect? What real-world religious traditions is it based upon, and how does it differ from them? What is it about these extreme forms of Protestantism that prompted you to the extended engagement a novel represents?

It interests me that many faiths choose to regulate or prohibit aspects of human life, vitality and culture, and I wanted to explore the possible reasons for this. Sex (with whom, what kind) is often highly regulated, food and art likewise. Protestants have accused Catholics of idolatry and at various points they have forbidden dancing, music, and theatre. Islamic art avoids the figurative. Perhaps because I am very interested in visual art, I became fascinated by the idea of a sect that banned all life-like representation. I started to explore this imaginatively after a visit to Finland as a Writer in Residence during which I learned of “the Awakenings,” a religious revival movement which flourished there in the nineteenth century. The movement persists today and is averse to dancing, music, colourful clothing, etc., but relatively liberal regarding sexuality, ordination of women etc. As I said, I love visual art, both representational and abstract, but I found I was able to sympathize with the Envallist point of view in that I saw through their eyes how we live in an image-saturated culture, and became increasingly aware of how that can affect our relationship and connection with the actual world.

This novel uses a distinctive point of view: a first-person voice that nevertheless has access to other characters’ inner lives and motivations. Tell us a little about how this voice came about and what it was like to write from such a perspective.

I’m glad you picked up on this. Regular first-person is intimate, but also very restrictive; I managed to open it up into a kind of “first-person omniscient” and so get the best of both worlds. Natalie, in middle age, is looking back and telling the story of her younger self’s involvement with the Envallist family in 1969, and also the story of Tuomas Envall as she uncovers it in her research. She allows herself to present what she intuits of other people’s inner lives and actions as part of her story (rather than speculation). This seems appropriate because a very driven curiosity—a desire to know about other people and what makes them tick—is a defining characteristic of Natalie right from the start. The point of view has a slightly spooky, menacing effect, and that works well for a story that definitely has some Gothic qualities. It took me several drafts to find this way to tell the story, and I felt very liberated once I discovered it.

Why is The Story of My Face ripe for re-release in 2019? How will it strike audiences differently now than it did upon its first publication eighteen years ago?

I completed the The Story of My Face while my first baby napped, and it was the first of my novels to be published in Canada. It came out in 2002, shortly after we moved to BC, and was long-listed for what was then called the Orange Prize. Since then my children have grown up and my work has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, The ReLit Award, and the Ethel Wilson Prize; my most recent novel, Dear Evelyn, won the Writer’s Trust Award for Fiction in 2018. I think the two novels—which both feature the kind of interesting, complicated relationships I spoke of earlier, but are otherwise quite different—make great book-ends for the body of work between them, all of which is now available.

As for how differently it will be perceived— the sheer volume of images that we deal with, many of them highly manipulative, has increased exponentially, and some readers may well have more sympathy with the Envallists than they would have earlier! And of course, it’s certainly true to say that religious fundamentalism impinges much more on our lives now than it did at the time of writing. The thing about The Story of My Face is that it does not portray any particular existing group but uses a fictional sect to explore the notion of religious prohibitions in general and ask what makes some of us need to restrict our lives (and those of others) in this way, and what is the cost of doing so? I think if anything it will be easier to connect with and even more relevant than before.