Gary Barwin


Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist, and educator and the author of 17 books of poetry and fiction as well as books for both teens and children. His work has been widely performed, broadcast, anthologized and published nationally and internationally, and has been commissioned by the CBC. His debut adult novel, Yiddish for Pirates, is a national bestseller and a finalist for the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Literature and the prestigious 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

He received a PhD. in music composition, a B.A., B.F.A and a B.Ed. and taught middle school and high school for nearly ten years. He has taught writing at McMaster University and at Mohawk College, to street-involved youth, and at Offcentre Art and Creativity Workshops. He was the Fall 2013 Young Voices eWriter-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library and will be Writer-in-Residence at Western University in 2014-2015.

Barwin is winner of the 2013 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Writing), the Hamilton Poetry Book of the Year 2011, and co-winner of 2011 Harbourfront Poetry NOW competition, the 2010 bpNichol chapbook award, and the KM Hunter Artist Award. He has received major grants from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council for his work.

His YA novel, Seeing Stars was shorted listed for both the Crimewriters of Canada Arthur Ellis Award as well as the Canadian Library Association YA Book of Year, and his picturebook, The Magic Mustache, was chosen as a “Best Bet” by Macleans. His latest book of poetry is Moon Baboon Canoe, winner of the Hamilton Literary Arts Award for Poetry. Barwin has given hundreds of readings and performances in Canada and internationally. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario with his family and a fear of the family car.

More information about Gary Barwin can be found at his website: garybarwin.com

Forthcoming

Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada 2016, New Face of Fiction)

FINALIST: 

2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize

2016 Governor General’s Award for Literature

Advance quotes:

“Across time and across continents, Gary Barwin’s novel “parrots” in an altogether new way. In a ferment of salty witticism, parroty puns and unforgettable Yiddish vocabulary, this is a novel borne not just on the wings of its feathery narrator, but on its own jubilant and alluring language; its own voice. Playful, mocking, using history with audacious abandon, Yiddish for Pirates is a resplendent enjoyment. But, literally viewed from above, the novel also admonishes us about man’s inexhaustible zeal for butchery, for incessant genocide, and for affliction. We have had animal narrators throughout literary history, but Aaron the African grey parrot, from the shoulder of his pirate master, will lift you to new heights.” – 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury Citation

 

“[Yiddish for Pirates is] simply not like anything else. . . . [In Yiddish for Pirates] Barwin strikes a moving, masterful note. Yiddish for Pirates has an unmatched spryness in both thought and language. It doesn’t conform well to any category or trope of literature, but instead makes a place as a fresh, new thing that draws from sea shanties and Talmud, history and fantasy, romance, adventure, linguistics, fashion, and the adventure serial of the early days of movies. This book is as irrepressible as my enthusiasm for it. You’ll never read anything else like it, and that’s a shonde.” – S. Bear Bergman, The Globe and Mail

 

“Gary Barwin’s new novel combines swashbuckling and stories of the diaspora, told with some of the most original language play since Ulysses.” – Joyland

 

Rarely does one encounter a work of Canadian literature this exuberant, impassioned, and enthralled with the very nature and essence of storytelling. Yiddish for Pirates is many things: a postmodern pastiche, an episodic picaresque, a compendium of tales competing to see which can stand tallest, and a virtual catalogue of Jewish humour through the ages.” – Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire

 

 

“Delightfully odd. . . . Start by imagining that Leo Rosten (of The Joys of Yiddish) and Terry Pratchett (of approximately 1 million fantasy novels) had a love-child. Then suspend your disbelief’s disbelief. . . . Barwin engages with the little-known history of Jewish pirates with verve and humor.” – Leah Falk, Jewniverse

“All my life I have been waiting for the romantic tale of a Kabbalistic Jewish pirate as filtered through a uniquely Canadian perspective. Today, my prayers have been answered and then some.” Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure

Yiddish for Pirates is a rollicking story, a linguistic typhoon, and the most audacious and original novel I’ve read in a long time. Gary Barwin has the imagination of David Mitchell and a galleon full of dictionaries.” Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes

“Gary Barwin is a gifted writer and a whiz-bang storyteller. Both are on vivid display in his hilarious tragicomic epic, Yiddish for Pirates. Narrated by a five-hundred-year-old wisecracking parrot, naturally, this swashbuckling tale had me hanging on for dear life. A wild and wonderful ride.” Terry Fallis, author of Poles Apart and No Relation

“What an accomplishment! What an imagination! The wit, the wordplay, and the subversive humour make this a thoroughly original and delightful novel.”  Lauren B. Davis, Scotiabank Giller Prize–nominated author of Our Daily Bread and Against a Darkening Sky

Poetry

Moon Baboon Canoe (Mansfield Press 2014)

Winner of the Hamilton Literary Arts Award for Poetry

Children’s

Seeing Stars (Fitzhenry and Whiteside 2001)
The Magic Mustache(Annick Press 1999)