Why We Write

In this volume, African Canadian novelists and poets discuss the complexities of the writing experience. Most of the writers interviewed here are humanists; i.e., they see their work as serious depictions of the human condition, admit that their works are informed by an African Canadian ontology, and adhere to the notion that their books must delight and instruct. These interviews, therefore, are valuable additions to the creative process of the individual writers. Apart from identifying how the writers’ geographical and social origins have influenced their work, the questions deliberately avoid autobiography. Instead, these writers respond to the exigencies of craft, the manipulations of publishers, the criticism of readers, and the absence of a clearly identifiable market for their works. Interviewed in this volume:

  • Ayanna Black
  • Austin Clarke
  • George Elliott Clarke
  • Wayde Compton
  • Afua Cooper
  • Bernadette Dyer
  • Cecil Foster
  • Claire Harris
  • Lawrence Hill
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Suzette Mayr
  • Pamela Mordecai
  • M NourbeSe Philip
  • Althea Prince
  • Robert Sandiford

“Indispensable . . . Overall there is a sense in which the writers interviewed in this collection know they are contributing to an absolutely necessary project guaranteed to aid future writers and readers, with its discussions of the political and literary contexts, as well as formal and aesthetic aspects, of current Black Canadian writing.”
The University of Toronto Quarterly


Publication Date: 2006

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-894770-34-7
Page size: 5.75″ x 8.75″
244 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-927494-86-8

Photo of H Nigel Thomas

H Nigel Thomas is the author of six novels, three collections of short stories, and a previous collection of poems, in addition to dozens of essays. His novels Spirits in the Dark and No Safeguards were nominated for the Hugh MacLennan Fiction Award, and Des vies cassées, the French translation of Lives: Whole and Otherwise, was shortlisted for Le prix Carbet des lycéens. He holds the 2000 Professional of the Year Jackie Robinson Award, the 2013 Université Laval’s Hommage aux créateurs, the 2020 Black Theatre Workshop’s Martin Luther King, Jr Achievement Award, and is the 2022 winner of the Canada Council John Molson Prize for the Arts. In 2024, he was named a laureate for Black History Month in Montreal. He is also the founder and English-language coordinator of Lectures Logos Readings. A Vincentian Canadian, he has lived in the province of Quebec since 1968 and is a retired professor of United States literature.

Also by this author