You might already know about Kawarthas Northumberland’s literary legacy. Major Canadian authors like Margaret Laurence, Robertson Davies, Farley Mowat, and Susanna Moodie all spent time living in the region, and Life of Pi author Yann Martel is an alum of Trent University’s philosophy program. If you’re less familiar with the authors living and working in the region today, though, you’re in for a treat. The following list showcases a half-dozen local authors, so you can find a good read to get you through the winter and support artists in your neighbourhood at the same time.
Michelle Berry is the author of nine books to date, including six novels and three collections of short stories. You may be familiar with her voice if you listen to CBC’s Ontario Morning, where Berry shares reading recommendations as a regular guest. She’s also the owner of Hunter Street Books, which now operates online and out of Meta4 Contemporary Craft Gallery at 164 Hunter Street West. Her latest book is The Prisoner and the Chaplain, which the Toronto Star described as “a tightly paced, story-conversation set in a prison death row, with one heck of a twist ending.” Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a page-turner that grapples with ethical and emotional questions.
Across three poetry collections, three novels, and one short story collection, Jonathan Bennett has demonstrated a compelling lyrical style and an impressive range. His last novel, the critically acclaimed The Colonial Hotel, retells the ancient Greek story of Paris and Helen in a modern context; his latest poetry collection, Happinesswise, reflects on the concept of happiness from a variety of illuminating angles. Bennett’s wide-ranging interests have led to a K.M. Hunter Artists’ Award for Literature and runner-up win for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. His writing has also appeared in publications such as The Globe and Mail and The Walrus.
Cobourg-based Stuart Ross is a writer, poet, editor, and creative-writing instructor. In 2019 he was granted the Harbourfront Festival Prize at the Toronto International Festival of Authors in recognition of his many contributions to Canadian literature. His latest poetry collection, Motel of the Opposable Thumbs, has a playful sensibility that belies its depth. His last novel, 2017’s Pockets, shares a surrealistic sensibility and will delight readers whose taste runs towards the experimental.
Andrew Forbes was the 2019 writer-in-residence Margaret Laurence Fellow at Trent University. His debut book of short fiction, What You Need, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Prize and shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Forbes’ second collection, Lands and Forests, was another wise, closely observed read, but sports fans will also want to check out his series of essays, The Utility of Boredom. The latter is a warm and insightful look at the comforts of baseball.
Peterborough’s Devon Code is the author of the novel Involuntary Bliss and the short story collection In a Mist. Cerebral and slyly funny, Involuntary Bliss roves from the streets of Montréal to the heights of Machu Picchu in its exploration of a struggling friendship. Code’s stylish writing earned him a Writers’ Trust Journey Prize in 2010.
As the daughter of diplomats, Jane Bow’s childhood provided a tour through Canada, the US, Spain, England, and Czechoslovakia. Her experience informs her novels, short stories, plays, and non-fiction. Her 2014 novel Cally’s Way told the interweaving stories of a 25-year woman on a visit to Crete in 2002, and her grandmother’s experience in the Cretan Resistance during World War II. If you want to double down on your support of the local literary community, Bow’s latest book, Homeless, is available now from Hunter Street Books.