LiterASIAN Toronto 2019

On November 27, 2019, the University of Toronto‘s Asian Canadian Studies program at University College, the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library and Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop hosted LiterASIAN 2019 in Toronto as an extension of the existing LiterASIAN festival in Vancouver which celebrates the best in Asian Canadian arts. For LiterASIAN Toronto in 2019, the theme is Looking to the Future: The evolving narrative of Asian Canadian fiction.

Since the late-1700s, people of Asian origin have made important contributions to Canadian heritage and identity. Fiction written by Asian Canadian authors have evolved and diversified, ranging from the origin immigrant story to achieving the Canadian Dream to looking beyond into the future with science fiction and fantasy tales. Looking to the Future discusses how the world has changed over time and how fiction represents these changes. Each author panelist will discuss their work and how their narrative have evolved over time as the literary landscape changes continuously.

Immersion Book Launch – In addition to LiterASIAN Toronto, in 2019 we are celebrating the publication of Immersion, a book of fifteen Asian speculative fiction stories from around the world and a collaborative project by Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, Ricepaper Magazine and Dark Helix Press. Editor JF Garrard will be introducing the book and authors Derwin Mak and Serah Louis will be reading an excerpt from their short story published in this anthology.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019  

Featured Authors:

Arlene Chan, author, Chinatown historian, and retired librarian, has written seven books and contributed to numerous publications about the history, culture, and traditions of the Chinese in Canada, some shortlisted for the Ontario Speaker’s Book Award, Heritage Toronto Book Award, Silver Birch Award, and Red Cedar Award. Her work has been recognized with the Heritage Toronto Special Achievement Award, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award, and Woman of Distinction Award.

Growing up in Toronto’s Chinatown as a third generation Chinese Canadian, Arlene had a front-row seat to witness the development of the Chinese community in Toronto. Her first-hand experiences and family stories are woven into her speaking engagements and Chinatown tours.

Arlene is the President of the Jean Lumb Foundation that awards high school students of Chinese heritage from across Canada. She serves on the board of Little Pear Garden Dance Company and as an adviser for Museum of Toronto, Heritage Interpretation Working Group for Ontario Infrastructure, and the Toronto Public Library’s Chinese Canadian Archive.

Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE/University of Toronto. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo, published by Inanna Publications was shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. Her collection of linked stories, That Time I Loved You, was released in 2018 by HarperCollins and in 2019 in the US by Liveright Publishing. It received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, and was named as one of the Best Books of 2018 by CBC, That Time I Loved You was awarded the Danuta Gleed Literary Award 2019 and was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards 2019 and long listed for Canada Reads 2019. Leung’s work has also been appeared in The Puritan, Ricepaper, The Globe and Mail, Room Magazine, Prairie Fire and Open Book Ontario. 

Thea Lim is the author of An Ocean of Minutes, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and longlisted for Canada Reads 2019. Her writing has been published by Granta, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Southampton Review and others. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast. She grew up in Singapore and now lives with her family in Toronto, where she is a professor of creative writing.

Derwin Mak’s story “Transubstantiation” won the Aurora Award for Best Short Fiction. The anthology The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin and Eric Choi, won the Aurora Award for Best Related Work. Another anthology, Where the Stars Rise, edited by Lucas Law and Derwin, won the Alberta Book Publishers Award for Speculative Fiction. The anthologies have stories by overseas Chinese or Asian writers to get their viewpoints and experiences in science fiction and fantasy. His novels The Moon Under Her Feet and The Shrine of the Siren Stone are available again from Dark Helix Press. Derwin’s stories have a range of topics, especially the interaction of religion with science and politics (“Transubstantiation”, The Moon Under Her Feet), political power (“Songbun”), and LGBTQ+ issues (“XY-Girls”, “72 Virgins”).

His website:

Immersion Book Reading Authors:

Derwin Mak (bio above)

Serah Louis is a 21-year-old Canadian writer of Indian descent. She is currently studying Biology and Professional Writing and Communications at the University of Toronto, Mississauga campus. She loves homemade biriyani and a good cup of chai and you’ll find her bookshelf cluttered with works ranging from J.R.R. Tolkien to Rabindranath Tagore.  

Planning Committee:

ACWW Staff

JF Garrard (LiterASIAN Toronto Festival Coordinator) is the founder of Dark Helix Press, Co-President of the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch, Deputy Editor for Ricepaper Magazine and an Assistant Editor for Amazing Stories Magazine. She is an editor and writer of speculative fiction. Find more on, Twitter (@jfgarrard), Instagram (@jfgarrard) and Facebook.

  University of Toronto Staff

Tania Aguila-Way is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toronto. Her current book project, Asian Canadian Literary Ecologies, explores the intersection between scientific knowledge-seeking and environmental anxiety in contemporary Asian Canadian literature.    

Hana Kim is the director of the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library at the University of Toronto and a former head of the Asian Library at the University of British Columbia. Before this, she was the Korean Studies Librarian at the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library for 11 years.  She is the author of multiple book chapters and journal articles in library and information science.       

Lisa Mar is an historian of Chinese in Canada and immigration in North America, the Richard Charles Lee Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies, and she directs Asian Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto.


Address: University of Toronto, Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, 8th Floor, Robarts Library, 130 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A5