Photo Credit:
Photo credit
Maggie Knaus
Frances Itani

Frances Itani, C.M., writer of novels, short stories, poetry, essays, reviews and children's books, has written 18 books and is the recipient of the 2021 Matt Cohen Award "In Celebration of a Writing Life." She is also the recipient of the 2019 Library and Archives Canada Scholars Award. Her new novel, The Company We Keep, published by HarperCollins in August 2020 — and sold internationally — is about six strangers who meet in the backroom of Cassie's Cafe and find common purpose as they discuss loss and grief, truth and new beginnings. Itani's previous novel, That's My Baby, (2017) is set during WWII's Jazz Age and moves forward to 1998. Characters include Hanora (previously in Tell) who is adopted, and her cousin who has the beginnings of Dementia. Thematically, the novel is concerned with finding and losing identity. Tell, a bestseller, was shortlisted for the 2014 Giller Prize in Canada & published in the U.S. by Black Cat (Grove/Atlantic) 2015. Itani's children's book, Best Friend Trouble, was published (world rights) by Orca in 2014 (Picture book, K-3). She won a Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book, 2004, for Deafening, a #1 bestseller, which was short-listed for many honours and awards, including the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award & the William Saroyan International Award. Remembering the Bones, a bestselling novel published and translated internationally, was shortlisted for a Commonwealth Prize and is a frequent choice for bookclub discussions. Itani is a three-time winner of the CBC Literary Award, and won the Ottawa Book Award twice for story collections, Man Without Face and Poached Egg on Toast. The latter also won the CAA Jubilee Award for Best Book of Canadian Stories, 2005. Itani co-edited, with Susan Zettell,  Danuta Gleed's posthumous stories, One of the Chosen. Ms. Itani  has often reviewed for the Washington Post, and has written essays, articles and stories for Globe & Mail, Brick, Canadian Geographic, Ottawa Citizen, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Ottawa City Magazine, etc. Born in Belleville, ON, Itani moved with her family to a Quebec village on the Ottawa River at age 4. She taught and practised Nursing for 8 years (R.N., Montreal General Hospital, 10 months at Duke University; 1 year at McGill studying post-graduate Nursing). She has a B.A. in Psychology  from Univ. of Alberta and an M.A. in English Literature from the Univ. of New Brunswick. She has lived in 7 Canadian provinces, in England, U.S.A., Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, and has travelled extensively throughout Europe and Japan. Teaching and writer-in-residence positions include Univ. of Ottawa, Trent Univ., Univ. of New Brunswick, The Banff Centre, Nepean Public Library, Halburton Highlands, etc. In 2009 she was awarded a residency/fellowship by Civitella Ranieri Foundation and spent two months in retreat at a castle in Umbria, Italy, while working on her novel Requiem. Her award-winning novel, Deafening, has been translated into 17 languages, most recently in China, and has been optioned for film. It also won the Kingston Reads Award, MacEwan University Book of the Year, the Drummer General's Award & was chosen for CBC's 2006 Canada Reads and Combat des Livres. Two short novels Missing and Listen! (Grass Roots 2011 and 2012) were written for the Good Reads project supported by ABC Life Literacy of Canada and are intended for adults who are learning to read or upgrading literacy skills. Ms. Itani's 2011 novel Requiem - internationally published/translated - was chosen as a top fiction title in the U.S. by the Washington Post in 2012. A frequent bookclub choice, Requiem was also selected for 'One Book, One Burlington' (2015); and "One Book, One Mississauga' (2017). TELL (HarperCollins 2014; Grove/Atlantic, U.S. Jan/2015) is set in post-war 1919 small-town Ontario, and follows 4 characters from the earlier novel, Deafening. The novel examines untold secrets, and the effects of trauma as a result of World War I. Ms. Itani has participated in humanitarian and volunteer work all her life, and for many years was a final judge & on the Advisory Board, for Youth in Motion's annual 'Top 20 Under 20.' She has also mentored young writing students, and  worked as a volunteer for many organizations, including The Ottawa Deaf Center (where she also served on the Board of Directors), Big Sisters, ALSO (Adult and Family Literacy), PWC (People Words and Change), Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Habitat for Humanity, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Immigrant Services, public schools in Canada and Germany, etc. In 1999, she launched the Itani Family Flute Award, a prize awarded annually to a young musician with the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Frances lives in Ottawa and is presently at work on two new novels and a children's book. Check out her website at:

City: Ottawa, Province/Territory: Ontario
Novels Poetry Stories Reviews Articles Children’s books
Presentation details
Audience Size
Audience size
20 ++
Presentation Genre
Presentation Length
45 min - 1 hour
Workshop details
Audience Size
15 +
Intended Audience
adult or high school
Workshop Length
Workshop Description
Workshop description

Writing of fiction, various topics within genre

School presentation details
Audience Size
15 +
Intended Audience
high school
Presentation Length
45 min - 1 hr
Presentation Description
Presentation description

Writing fiction / Writing as a lifelong pursuit

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