Saleema Nawaz

University of Manitoba Ottawa Ontario
Saleema Nawaz
Saleema Nawaz at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2013
Nawaz at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2013
Born1979 (age 40–41)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
EducationB.Hum. (Carleton University)
M.A. in English (University of Manitoba)
Notable work
Mother Superior
Awards2006 Robert Kroetsch Award
2008 Journey Prize

Saleema Nawaz (born 1979) is a Canadian author whose works of short fiction have been published in literary journals such as Prairie Fire, PRISM International, Grain, The Dalhousie Review, and The New Quarterly.[1] Nawaz was born in Ottawa, Ontario and later moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in order to study English at the University of Manitoba, where she received her M.A. with a creative writing thesis.[2] Her first complete collection of short fiction, entitled Mother Superior, was published by Freehand Books in 2008. Nawaz completed her first novel, Bone and Bread, published by Anansi Press in 2013, while residing in Montreal, Quebec.[3]


Early life in Ottawa

Saleema Nawaz was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. An only child, Nawaz was raised solely by her Caucasian Nova Scotian mother in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Centretown, in the absence of her Indian father.[4][5] Nawaz claims to have begun showing interest in writing fiction as early as the first grade.[6] During her high school years she attended Lisgar Collegiate Institute, a highly regarded public school near her Centretown home. Upon graduation from high school Nawaz attended Carleton University in Ottawa, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Humanities.[4][7]

Winnipeg, Banff, and Montreal

After receiving a Bachelor of Humanities at Carleton, Nawaz moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba to pursue her M.A. at the University of Manitoba. The M.A. program at the University of Manitoba interested Nawaz because it offered a Creative Thesis option.[6] Since obtaining her degree, Nawaz has attended a writing studio program at the Banff Centre for the Arts and currently resides in Montreal, Quebec where she does administrative work for McGill University.[7][8]

Writing career


Nawaz cites her biggest short fiction influences as Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff, and Raymond Carver.[9]

Early work

Nawaz' novella The White Dress[10] (which would later appear in her collection, Mother Superior) won her the Robert Kroetsch Award for Best Creative Thesis in 2006.[11] This award is given to the writer of the best creative thesis each year out of all University of Manitoba M.A. graduates.[12] In the following years, Nawaz published several individual short stories in various literary publications across Canada (see "List of published works" below).

Mother Superior

In 2008, Nawaz published a collection of seven stories and two novellas entitled Mother Superior.[13] The collection includes five previously published short stories as well as two previously unpublished short stories and two previously unpublished novellas. Mother Superior has generally been met with positive reviews, was a finalist for the prestigious McAuslan First Book Prize from the Quebec Writers' Federation.[14] The stories in Mother Superior follow a diverse cast of female protagonists struggling with issues such as racism, abuse, death, anorexia, pregnancy and motherhood. Mother Superior is published by Freehand Books.

Bone and Bread

Nawaz's first novel was called Bone and Bread was edited by Melanie Little Anansi’s former senior fiction editor.[7] Its narrative follows two sisters and is set in Montreal.[15] The sisters are from her previously published short story "Bloodlines" (found in The New Quarterly and as a part of Mother Superior) twenty years after their original story.[6] In 2016, Bone and Bread was defended by Farah Mohamed on CBC's Canada Reads competition.[16]

Songs for the End of the World

Nawaz's upcoming novel, which took her seven years to write, is a dystopian novel about a coronavirus that ravages the world. Given the 'eerie similarities' to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the publisher McClelland & Stewart decided to move up the publication of the e-book to April 14, 2020. The print book is still scheduled to be released on August 25, 2020.[17][18]

List of published works

Individual short stories



Awards and honours


  1. ^ Nawaz, Saleema (2008). Mother Superior. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Freehand Books. pp. 288. ISBN 978-1-55111-927-4.
  2. ^ "Saleema Nawaz". Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  3. ^ Nawaz, Saleema (2008). Mother Superior. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Freehand Books. ISBN 978-1-55111-927-4.
  4. ^ a b "Westfest 2009 past artists". Westfest. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  5. ^ Sanyal, Aparna. "The Human Protest". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Saleema Nawaz: Tapping the melancholic muse". Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d "Family matters". Quill and Quire. 2013-04-22. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  8. ^ Whittall, Zoe (2010). "Working stiffs". Quill & Quire. 76: 22–23.
  9. ^ Retrieved 2011-03-06. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  10. ^ Nawaz, Saleema (2006). "The white dress". University of Manitoba MSpace Institutional Repository.
  11. ^ "QWF Literary Database of Quebec English-language Authors". Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  12. ^ a b c d [1] Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Sanyal, Aparna. "The Human Protest". The Montreal Review of Books. Twenty-seventh Issue. Volume 12, No. 1. Archived from the original on 2009-03-11.
  14. ^ "QWF Literary Database of Quebec English-Lanuage Authors". Quebec Writers Federation. 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Afterword (2013-03-27). "Saleema Nawaz talks about Bone and Bread | National Post". Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  16. ^ "CBC Reads - Bone and Bread". CBC. July 10, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  17. ^ Kelly, Brendan (April 14, 2020). "Montreal author Saleema Nawaz began writing coronavirus novel 7 years ago". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  18. ^ Lederman, Marsha (April 9, 2020). "This Montreal author imagined the coronavirus ... six years ago". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  19. ^ Nawaz, Saleema (Summer 2005). "Look, But Don't Touch". Grain Magazine. 33 Issue: 131–138.
  20. ^ Nawaz, Saleema (Summer 2008). "Scar Tissue". Dalhousie Review. 88 (2): 205–217.
  21. ^ "Nawaz, Gollner take top QWF honours". Montreal Gazette. November 20, 2013. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2018.