New books from Creative Writing alumni invite us into tenderly crafted worlds

Our Creative Writing alumni published compelling work over the last year, including a horror novel soaked with dreams, an intimate family saga set in a beachfront hotel, and a love letter to a son lost to overdose. These stunning works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry invite us into tenderly crafted worlds. Discover a new read below or on our Alumni Publications page.

Bad Cree
Jessica Johns
MFA ’19

A haunting debut novel where dreams, family and spirits collide. Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8. Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice.

Shortlisted for the 2023 Amazon Canada First Novel Award

God Isn’t Here Today
Francine Cunningham
MFA ’15

Driven by desperation into moments of transformation, Francine Cunningham’s characters are presented with moments of choice: a young man goes to God’s office downtown for advice; an incubus tires of his professional grind; and a young woman inherits a power that has survived genocide, but comes with a burden of its own. The stories in Cunningham’s debut collection God Isn’t Here Today ricochet between form and genre, taking readers on a dark, irreverent yet poignant journey led by a unique and powerful new voice.

Shortlisted for the 2023 Indigenous Voices Awards

Longlisted for the 2023 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

Holden After and Before: Love Letter for a Son Lost to Overdose
Tara McGuire
MFA ’20

Holden After and Before is a moving meditation on grief. Tara McGuire excavates and documents the life path of her son Holden, a graffiti artist who died of an accidental opioid overdose at the age of twenty-one. McGuire employs fact, investigation, memory, fantasy and even fabrication in her search for understanding not only of her son’s tragic death, but also of his beautiful life. The story examines themes of mental illness, trauma, creative expression and unending love inside one of the thousands of deaths that have occurred as a result of the opioid crisis.

Lunar Tides
Shannon Webb-Campbell
MFA ’15

Expansive and enveloping, Webb-Campbell’s collection asks, “Who am I in relation to the moon?” These poems explore the primordial connections between love, grief and water, structured within the lunar calendar. The poetics follow rhythms of the body, the tides, the moon and deep familial relationships that are both personal and ancestral. Originating from Webb-Campbell’s grief at losing her mother, Lunar Tides charts the arc to finding her again in the waves. Written from a mixed Mi’kmaq/settler perspective, this work also explores the legacies of colonialism, kinship and Indigenous resurgence.

2022 Foreword Indies Finalist (Poetry)

Nothing Could Be Further from the Truth
Christopher Evans
MFA ’17

In stories both absurd and all-too-real, Christopher Evans paints a portrait of the uncanniness of modern life. The president of a holistic dog food company is haunted by a pop song from her past. Nine siblings band together to raise themselves after parental abandonment. A domestic argument reveals a woman’s supernatural gift.

Christopher Evans’s stories are peopled with strays—those who fall for the allure of nostalgia, grapple with male fragility, deny family trauma and acquiesce to authority. For these characters, resignation and reinvention are only a breath apart.

Silencing Rebecca
Nikki Vogel
MFA ’14

In this genre-bending debut YA novel combining elements of horror, magic realism and realistic fiction, Rebecca Waldmann’s sheltered life as an Orthodox Jewish teen in Toronto is shattered when her father moves them to Edmonton, where she is plunged into the worldly life of a public high school. Rebecca doesn’t just defy the strictures of her ultraorthodox religion by wearing tight jeans and flirting with a non-Jewish boy. She discovers that she has undergone a change that makes puberty look easy— she’s been transformed into a golem!

The Foghorn Echoes
Danny Ramadan
MFA ’20

A deeply moving novel about a forbidden love between two boys in war-torn Syria and the fallout that ripples through their adult lives. A blooming romance leads to a tragic accident when Hussam’s father catches him acting on his feelings for his best friend, Wassim. In an instant, the course of their lives is changed forever. The Foghorn Echoes is a gripping novel about how to carve out home in the midst of war, and how to move forward when the war is within yourself.

Shortlisted for the 2023 BC and Yukon Ethel Wilson Prize

Winner of the 2022 Lambda Literary Award

The Island of Forgetting
Jasmine Sealy
MFA ’20

How does memory become myth? How do lies become family lore? How do we escape the trauma of the past when the truth has been forgotten? The Island of Forgetting is an intimate saga spanning four generations of one family who run a beachfront hotel. Loosely inspired by Greek mythology, this is a novel about the echo of deep—and sometimes tragic—love and the ways a family’s past can haunt its future.

The Island of Forgetting won the 2020 HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction.

Longlisted for the 2023 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature

Finalist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Award

Winner of the 2023 Amazon Canada First Novel Award