Steven Heighton, Author.  Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj.



Steven Heighton is the author of twelve books, including the short story collections Flight Paths of the Emperor and On earth as it is; the poetry collections Stalin's Carnival, The Ecstasy of Skeptics, The Address Book, Patient Frame, and the 2016 winner of the Governor General's Award for Poetry, The Waking Comes Late; and the novels The Shadow Boxer—which was a bestseller in Canada and has also been published, along with the short story books, by Granta Books in Britain and Australia, by Houghton Mifflin in the USA (where it was named a Publishers’ Weekly Book of the Year for 2002), and by Edizioni e/o in Italy—and Afterlands, which has appeared in six countries and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. The novel has been optioned for film by Pall Grimsson and is in pre-production. His most recent novel is Every Lost Country (May 2010) and his most recent book is The Dead Are More Visible (May 2012), a collection of short stories.

His work has been translated into Italian, French, Japanese, German, Turkish, Arabic, Hungarian, Spanish, Russian, and Lithuanian; has appeared in Poetry, Zoetrope: All-Story, The London Review of Books, The Walrus, Tin House, Brick, The Independent, New England Review, TLR, Malahat Review, The New York Times, Agni, Stand and Revue Europe; has been widely anthologised (Best Canadian Stories, Best American Poetry, Best American Mystery Stories, Best English Stories, Literature, The Minerva Book of Stories, Modern and Contemporary Poets of Canada, and many others); has been indexed in Best American Stories; has been cited in the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms and the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage & Style; and has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Award, the Journey Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and Britain’s W.H. Smith Award (best book of the year). He has received the Governor General's Award for poetry, Gerald Lampert Award (best first book of poetry); the 2010 K.M. Hunter Award (literature); four gold medals for fiction and for poetry in the National Magazine Awards; the Air Canada Award; the 2011 P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry; and the 2002 Petra Kenney Prize (UK). In addition, Flight Paths of the Emperor has been listed by as one of the ten best Canadian short story collections.

He has also been active as a translator and teacher, and from 1988-1994 was editor of the literary journal Quarry Magazine. He was a fellow at the Cambridge Literary Seminars in 1997; the 2002-2003 writer-in-residence at Concordia University in Montreal; the Jack McLelland Writer-in-Residence at Massey College, University of Toronto, for spring 2004; a participating author in the American Movements II course at the University of New Orleans in 2006; an instructor at the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2007; writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa in 2009; writer-in-residence at CMR/RMC Kingston, winter 2010; and was the 2013 Mordecai Richler Writer-in-Residence at McGill University.


“Heighton is an experienced adventurer in literary form… a sense of boldness and risk-taking infuses [his work].”
New York Times Book Review

“Heighton is a terrific writer.”
The Guardian

“Heighton is as good a writer as Canada has ever produced.”
National Post

“A superb craftsman at ease in foreign places and distant times.”
The Globe & Mail

“Heighton is a master… equally at home in writing first-person accounts of fictional car jackings or in the shadow of Hiroshima's devastation.”
“One of the most important Canadian writers.”
—Radio 2 (Italy)

“This is a writer who has earned his place among the country's very best.”
—2013 Trillium Award Jury Citation

“Heighton is a superb stylist… in complete control of the language.”
National Post

“Heighton's writing would hold its own in any literary circle.”
Chicago Tribune

“Vivacious, purposeful and entertaining… one of Canada's most talented younger writers.”
Times Literary Supplement

“[Heighton has] emerged as one of the best new writers of the 90s.”
Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature

“Steven Heighton is one of the finest writers in this country.”
Barbara Gowdy

“Heighton is one of the best writers of his generation, maybe the best.”
Al Purdy

“A major new voice.”
Mark Abley

“Steven Heighton is a writer of high intelligence and wit, an immaculate and sensualist stylist whose prose moves fluidly from the acerbic to the erotic.”
Janette Turner Hospital

“Heighton's debut serves notice that the 90s may very well see a fusion of the classic and the hip.”
George Elliott Clarke


  • Stalin’s Carnival (poetry: Quarry Press, Kingston, 1989)
  • Foreign Ghosts (an utaniki, or “song-diary”: Asian travelogue in poetry and prose: Oberon, Ottawa, 1990)
  • Flight Paths of the Emperor (linked short stories: Porcupine’s Quill, Erin, 1992; L’instant meme, Quebec City, 1995; Granta Books, London, 1997, 2000; Vintage Books, Toronto, 2001)
  • The Ecstasy of Skeptics (poetry: House of Anansi, Toronto, 1994)
  • On earth as it is (a novella and ten stories: Porcupine’s Quill, Erin, 1992; L’instant meme, Quebec City, 1997; Granta Books, London, 1997; Vintage Canada, Toronto, 2001)
  • The Admen Move on Lhasa: Writing & Culture in a Virtual World (essays: Anansi, Toronto, 1997)
  • The Shadow Boxer (novel: Knopf, Toronto, 2000; Granta Books, London, 2000; Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2002; Edizioni E/O, Rome, 2003)
  • The Address Book (poetry: House of Anansi, Toronto, 2004)
  • Afterlands (novel: Knopf Canada, 2005; Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2006; Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, London, 2006; Ambo Anthos, Amsterdam, 2006; Rowholt, Hamburg, 2007)
  • Paper Lanterns: 25 Postcards from Asia (chapbook, with photographs by Mary Huggard: Palimpsest Press, Windsor, 2006)
  • The Stages of J Gordon Whitehead (letterpress ed. of a short story: Frog Hollow Press, 2008)
  • Patient Frame (poetry: House of Anansi, Toronto, 2010)
  • Every Lost Country (novel: Knopf Canada, Toronto, 2010; Ambo Anthos, Amsterdam, 2011 or 2012)
  • Workbook: memos & dispatches on writing (ECW, Toronto, 2011)
  • The Dead Are More Visible (Knopf Canada, 2012)


  • Air Canada Award (“most promising writer under thirty”), 1989
  • Gerald Lampert Award (for Stalin’s Carnival), 1990
  • PRISM international short story competition, first prize, 1991 1
  • Stand (U.K.) short story competition, prize-winner, 1991
  • National Magazine Awards gold medal for fiction, 1992, 2008, 2010
  • Petra Kenney Prize (U.K., for winning poem), 2002
  • Award for Excellence in the Arts (Kingston Arts Council), 2004
  • National Magazine Awards gold medal for poetry, 2004
  • National Magazine Awards silver medal for poetry, 2011
  • The Journey Prize, finalist, 1992
  • Trillium Award, finalist (for Flight Paths of the Emperor), 1993
  • National Magazine Awards, finalist for fiction, 1994, ’95
  • Governor General’s Award for Poetry, finalist (for The Ecstasy of Skeptics), 1995
  • Pushcart Prize, nominated by The Laurel Review, 1995
  • W.H. Smith Award (U.K.: for “best book of the year”), nominated, for Flight Paths of the Emperor, 1998
  • McEwan College Book of the Year, finalist, for Afterlands, 2006
  • Evergreen Award, finalist for Afterlands, 2008
  • K.M. Hunter Award (literature), 2010
  • Banff Mountain Book Festival Award, finalist, for Every Lost Country, 2010
  • P.K. Page Founders' Award for Poetry, 2011
  • Trillium Award, finalist, for The Dead Are More Visible


  • Best Canadian Stories (Oberon, 1989, ’92, ’95, ’04, ’07)
  • The New Story Writers (John Metcalf, ed., Quarry Press, 1991)
  • Best English Short Stories (David Hughes & Giles Gordon, eds., Heinemann, U.K., 1992)
  • The Minerva Book of Short Stories 5 (Hughes & Gordon, eds., Minerva, U.K., 1993)
  • Best of Best English Short Stories 1986-1995 (Hughes & gOrdon, eds., Minerva, 1996)
  • The Journey Prize Anthology 4 (M&S, 1992)
  • The Literature of Work (U. of Phoenix Press, 1993)
  • The Second Gates of Paradise (Alberto Manguel, ed., MW&R, 1995)
  • Canadian Short Fiction, second edition (W.H. New, ed., Prentice Hall, 1996)
  • Writing Home (Constance Rooke, ed., M&S, 1997)
  • Turn of the Story (Joan Thomas & Heidi Harms, eds., Anansi, 1999)
  • Lost Classics (Ondaatje, Redhill, Spalding, and Spalding, eds. Knopf, 2000)
  • The Reader (Carolyn Meyer & Bruce Meyer, eds., Prentice Hall, 2001)
  • The Notebooks (Michelle Berry & Natalee Caple, eds. Doubleday, 2002)
  • Viewpoints 12 (Prentice Hall, 2002)
  • The New Canon (ed. Carmine Starnino, Vehicule, 2005)
  • Literature (ed. Laurie G. Kirszner, Stephen R. Mandell, and Candace Fertile: Thomson/Nelson 2007)
  • The Exile Book of Canadian Sports Stories (ed. Priscila Uppal, Exile Editions, 2009)
  • Modern and Contemporary Poets of Canada (ed. Todd Swift and Evan Jones, Carcanet, 2010)
  • The Best Canadian Poetry 2009 (ed. A.F. Moritz, Tighrope Books, 2009)
  • The Best Canadian Poetry 2010 (ed. Lorna Crozier, Tightrope Books, 2010)
  • The Best Canadian Poets 2011 (ed. Priscilla Uppal, Tightrope Books, 2011)
  • Finding the Words (ed. Jared Bland, M&S, 2011)
  • Best American Poetry 2012 (ed. Mark Doty)
  • 70 Canadian Poets (ed. Gary Geddes, Oxford Press, 2014)
  • Another English: Poems From Around the World (eds Catherine Barnett & Tiphanie Yanique, Tupelo/The Poetry Foundation, 2014)
  • Also: London Review of Books, Poetry, Brick, The Malahat Review, Descant, Exile, Stand (U.K.), The Independent (U.K.), Critical Quarterly (U.K.), The Rialto (U.K.), Nimrod (U.S.A.), Agni (U.S.A.), The Literary Review (U.S.A.), Northwest Review (U.S.A.), Revue Europe (France), Quadrant (Australia), Chelsea Hotel (Germany), Nuovi Argomenti (Italy)


  • St Mary’s University (Writer-in-Residence, Jan. 92)
  • Kingston School of Writing, July 1993
  • Maritime Writers’ Workshop, Fredericton, July 1995
  • Tattle Creek Writers’ Workshop, July 2000, July 2001
  • Banff Centre, May Studios, 2001
  • Berton House, Dawson City (Writer-in-Residence, September-October 2001)
  • Yukon Writers’ Conference, Whitehorse, March 2002
  • Concordia University, Montreal (Writer-in-Residence, September 2002-May 2003)
  • University of Toronto, Massey College (Writer-in-Residence, Jan.-April 2004)
  • Booming Ground (Green College, UBC), novel course, with 16 weeks of online follow-up (July 2005)
  • American Movements II, U of New Orleans: participating author, 2006
  • Summer Literary Seminars, Herzen University, St Petersburg, Russia: poetry instructor, June 2007
  • Banff Centre, Writing with Style: fiction instructor, Sept. 2007
  • Banff Centre, Writing with Style: poetry instructor, 2008
  • University of Ottawa (Writer-in-Residence, 2009)
  • CMR/RMC Kingston (writer-in-residence, winter 2010)
  • Fernie Writers' Conference, July 2010
  • McGill University, poetry instructor and writer in residence, winter term 2013
  • Queen's University, writer-in-residence, fall 2014
  • Also: Various one day workshops, seminars, and lectures in Kingston-area high schools, and at such gatherings as the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild AGM (1994), the Manitoba Writers’ Guild AGM (1994), the Maritime Writers’ Festival (1996), the Kootenay School of Writing (1996), and the Writers’ Guild of Newfoundland AGM (1996).


  • Editor, Quarry Magazine, 1988-1994
  • Author of afterword in New Canadian Library edition of Margaret Atwood’s Murder in the Dark (NCL: M&S, Toronto, 1997)
  • Co-editor (with Victor Coleman) of Duo Duo’s Crossing the River, tr. Lee Robinson (Anansi, Toronto, 1998)
  • Co-editor (with Tess Fragoulis & Helen Tsiriotakis) of Musings: an Anthology of Greek-Canadian Literature (Vehicule, 2003)
  • Author of foreword in new House of Anansi edition of Al Purdy's Poems for All the Annettes (Anansi, Toronto, 2012)
  • Kingston Wired Writers associate, from September 2014