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Frances Itani

Photo: Ted Itani

Frances Itani, C.M., writer of novels, short stories, poetry, essays, reviews and children's books, has published 17 books and is a recipient of the new 2019 Library and Archives Canada Scholars Award. Her latest novel (2017) 'That's My Baby,' deals with memory, adoption and identity, and 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. 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 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 also short-listed for the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award & the William Saroyan International Award. Remembering the Bones, a bestselling novel published 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 Danuta Gleed's posthumous stories, One of the Chosen. She 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 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 published and translated in 17 territories, 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 intended for adults who are learning to read or upgrading literacy skills. Ms. Itani's 2011 novel Requiem was chosen as a top fiction title in the U.S. by the Washington Post in 2012. Requiem, another frequent bookclub choice, 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, as well as 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), 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, lives in Ottawa, and is presently at work on two novels.

E-mail: c/o Writers' Union of Canada
Phone number:
c/o Writers' Union of Canada


Requiem. HarperCollins; Grove/Atlantic (U.S.); Berlin Verlag (Germany); ARKA (Bulgaria), 2011
Deafening. HarperCollins; Grove/Atlantic; Hodder & Stoughton; transl. in 17 territories, 2003.
Remembering the Bones. HarperCollins; Grove/Atlantic; Hodder & Stoughton; Berlin Verlag; China, 2007
Poached Egg on Toast. HarperCollins, 2004
Pack Ice and Truth or Lies (2 collections of stories). Oberon Press, 1989
Leaning, Leaning Over Water. HarperCollins; Hodder & Stoughton; Berlin Verlag, 1998
Man Without Face. Oberon Press, 1994
Missing. Grass Roots, 2011
Listen!. Grass Roots, 2012
A Season of Mourning (poetry). Brick, 1988 & 2014
Linger by the Sea (children's book). Brunswick Press, 1979
Best Friend Trouble (children's picture book). Orca, 2014
Tell. HarperCollins; Black Cat (Grove/Atlantic) U.S.;, 2014
That's My Baby. HarperCollins, 2017


Library and Archives, Canada Scholars Award, 2019
Winner: Commonwealth Writer's Prize (Best Book, Caribbean & Canada Region) for Deafening, 2005
Finalist/Shortlisted: Scotiabank Giller Prize for Tell, 2014
Finalist/Shortlisted: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Deafening 2005
Winner: Canadian Authors Assoc. Jubilee Award for Best Collection for Poached Egg on Toast, 2005
Finalist/Shortlisted: William Saroyan International Literary Award for Deafening, 2005
Finalist/Shortlisted: Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Remembering the Bones, 2008
Winner: two Ottawa Book Awards (Fiction) for Man Without Face & Poached Egg on Toast , 1995 & 2005
Winner: three CBC Literary Awards for Short Stories, First Prize 1995 and 1996; 3rd prize 1984
Eligible for National Public Readings Program :


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