The 2023 Avie Bennett Chair in Canadian Literature - Featuring Omar El Akkad & Noor Naga

When and Where

Thursday, March 09, 2023 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Noor Naga
Omar El Akkad


Doors open at 7:00pm. The event begins at 7:30pm sharp. A book signing will follow the dialogue.

Noor Naga | The Ethics of Inspiration

Noor Naga is an Alexandrian writer who was born in Philadelphia, raised in Dubai, studied in Toronto, and now lives in Cairo. She was the winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers in 2017 for her poem “The Mistress and the Pig.” Her verse-novel Washes, Prays (2020) won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Arab American Book Award, as well as being listed in CBC’s Best Canadian Poetry of 2020. Her work has appeared in, among other places, Granta, LitHub, Poetry, BOMB, The Walrus, The Common, and The Offing. Her novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2022. TIME magazine has listed it as one of its 100 Must-Read Books of 2022, Kirkus deemed it one of the Best Fictional Voices of 2022, and Buzzfeed named it one of the Best Books of 2022.

Omar El Akkad | Wayn Kafeel: Unrooted Literature in an Unrooting Age

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Qatar, moved to Canada as a teenager, and now lives in the United States. The start of his journalism career coincided with the start of the war on terror, and over the following decade he reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and many other locations around the world. His work earned a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His fiction and non-fiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, GQ and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War (2017) is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for Fiction, the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 novels that changed our world. His new novel, What Strange Paradise (2021) won the Giller Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. It was also named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and several other publications.

Smaro Kamboureli is the Avie Bennett Chair in Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she has pub­lished extensively on Canadian literature. The author of Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada, winner of the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian Literary Criticism, and of On the Edge of Genre: The Contempo­rary Canadian Long Poem, she has also edited or co-edited over twenty vol­umes of essays, including Lee Maracle's Memory Serves: Oratories. Her most recent publication is Land/Relations: Possibilities of Justice in Canadian Lit­eratures, co-edited with Larissa Lai (2023).

Visit the event page for more information and to register.


2 Sussex Avenue Toronto, ON M5S 1J5