2023 Wild Writers Festival Reading List

LISA ALWARD – Cocktail 

Cocktail by Lisa Alward is a collection of twelve pristine stories. Set in the swinging sixties and each decade since, Cocktail reveals the schism between the lives we build up around us and our deepest hidden selves. The writing is crisp and assured, and the characters are vividly drawn as they struggle between that which they believe to be right and that which they desire.

JAMALUDDIN ARAM – Nothing Good Happens in Wazirabad on Wednesday

In this novel about peace in a time of war, debut author Jamaluddin Aram masterfully breathes life into the colourful characters of the town of Wazirabad, in early 1990s Kabul, Afghanistan.

RONNA BLOOM – A Possible Trust: The Poetry of Ronna Bloom

With compassion, humour and sharp-eyed irreverence, Ronna Bloom’s work has made a significant impact on Canadian poetry. A Possible Trust is selected from her work to date.


Set in a fictional version of the real Main-à-Dieu, Nova Scotia, where a 1976 wildfire caused catastrophic devastation, Fire Monster, tells the tale of a skilled oil sands worker who returns to the Cape Breton fishing village where, as a child, he was blamed for causing the fire that tore through the local community, consuming bush, trees, houses, boats, cars, animals and the century-old gothic church.

ALICIA ELLIOTT – And Then She Fell

A mind-bending, razor-sharp look at motherhood and mental health that follows a young Indigenous woman who discovers the picture-perfect life she always hoped for may have horrifying consequences

PAOLA FERRANTE – Her Body Among Animals

In this genre-bending debut collection merging horror, fairy tales, pop culture, and sci-fi, women challenge the boundaries placed on their bodies while living in a world “among animals,” where violence is intertwined with bizarre ecological disruptions.

HOLLAY GHADERY – Rebellion Box

This explosive debut collection pushes against the limitations of gender roles, race, bodies and minds, and explores our insignificance and impotence in the universe. The concept of otherness afforded by a marginalized and neurodivergent perspective is brilliantly represented in this book.


This picture book celebrates the joys of early childhood and all the first-time experiences that are exciting for parents and children, including beach days, befriending the family dog, story time on the couch, and so much more!

KATE JENKS LANDRY – Beatrice and Barb

Beatrice wants a pet of her own. Her mom has other ideas. They finally reach a compromise, and Beatrice gets … a Venus flytrap. She gives her new friend a name, Barb. She does all the things with Barb that good pet owners do, such as taking walks and playing fetch. Despite all the love and care, Barb is starting to look sick, with black spots on her leaves and some parts of her turning mushy. Beatrice knows she has to find a way to save Barb. But how?

HELEN KNOTT – Becoming a Matriarch

Having lost both her mom and grandmother in just over six months, forced to navigate the fine lines between matriarchy, martyrdom, and codependency, Knott realizes she must let go, not just of the women who raised her, but of the woman she thought she was.

KYO MACLEAR – Unearthing

When a DNA test reveals that the father who raised her was not biologically related to her, Kyo Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling the mystery piece by piece in a search tied to the seasons, plant life, and the making of a garden.

AMY STUART – A Death at the Party

Nadine Walsh’s summer garden party is in full swing. The neighbours all have cocktails, the catered food is exquisite—everything’s going according to plan. But Nadine—devoted wife, loving mother, and doting daughter—finds herself standing over a dead body in her basement while her guests clink glasses upstairs. What happened? How did it come to this?

PAMELA MULLOY – As Little As Nothing

Set in the south of England in the tumultuous year before World War II, As Little As Nothing focusses on the lives of two women: Miriam, recovering from her fifth miscarriage, who looks to flight as an escape from both the impending war and the disappointments in her life; and Audrey, a 53-year-old, upper-class activist (an acolyte of Stella Browne, a Canadian reproductive rights activist who lived in Britain at the time) who has shunned her society, travels the UK lecturing on reproductive rights, lives in a Reading Caravan, and whose daily ritual includes a swim in a nearby river.

ERIN NOTEBOOM – A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen

A knife so sharp its edge cannot be seen takes exact and exquisite measurement of what carries a voice through illness, grief, loss, and through the failures and triumphs of work and love. Various theories and hypotheses are tested in these poems: sadness is knowledge and science “is only half a turn from love.”


Margaret shares a journey that is both inspiring and harrowing: from leaving Communist Poland to enduring the demands of medical school, through living with a long undiagnosed mental illness to discovering the fascinating field of genetics, plunging into the pressures of prenatal diagnosis and, finally, finding the tools of writing and narrative medicine.


Alicia has been out of grad school for months. She has no career prospects and lives with her mom, who won’t stop texting her macabre news stories and reminders to pick up items from the grocery store. Then, one evening, the Jamaican water deity, River Mumma, appears to Alicia, telling her that she has twenty-four hours to scour the city for her missing comb.

ELIZABETH RUTH – Semi-Detached

In December 2013, an ice storm buries Toronto as realtor Laura Keys prepares to sell a one-of-a-kind house on behalf of its comatose owner. Haunting Laura, and longing to be invited in, is a mysterious teenage girl with a Scottish Terrier tucked into her coat. While uncovering the past, Laura navigates both the death of her mother and a troubled marriage straining under the weight of her infertility.

VINCENT LAM – On the Ravine

In his downtown Toronto condo, Dr. Chen awakens to the sound of streetcars below, but it is not the early morning traffic that keeps him from sleep. News banners run across his phone: Fentanyl Crisis; Toxic Drug Supply; Record Number of Deaths. 

Claire is a violinist. After two overdoses in twenty-four hours, she sits in the blue light of her computer, searching a notice board for recommendations. And then a message catches her attention, about Chen’s clinic: be a guinea pig—why not get paid to take it?

Y-DANG TROEUNG – Landbridge: life in fragments

In precise, beautiful prose accompanied by moving black-and-white visuals, Y-Dang weaves back and forth in time to tell stories about her parents and two brothers who lived through the Cambodian genocide, about the lives of her grandparents and extended family, about her own childhood in the refugee camps and in rural Ontario, and eventually about her young son’s illness and her own diagnosis with a terminal disease.

LINDSAY WONG – Tell Me Pleasant Things about Immortality

From the bestselling, Canada Reads-shortlisted author of The Woo-Woo comes a wild, darkly hilarious, and poignant collection of immigrant horror stories. They’ll haunt and consume you—in strange and unsettling ways. The ghosts, zombies, and demons in this collection are all shockingly human, and they’re ready to spill their guts. Vanity, love, and tragedy are all candidly explored as the unfulfilled desires of the dead are echoed in the lives of modern-day immigrants.