Deni Ellis Béchard

Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction and the winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book, the 2016 Midwest Book Award for Literary Fiction, and 2015 Nautilus Book Award for Investigative Journalism. His writing has been nominated for a Canadian National Magazine Award and featured in Best Canadian Essays, and his photojournalism has been exhibited in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. His articles, fiction, and photos have been published in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Salon, CityLab, Reuters, the Paris Review, The Guardian, La Repubblica, The Walrus, Pacific Standard, Le Devoir, Vanity Fair Italia, the Herald Scotland, the Huffington Post, the Harvard Review, the National Post, and Foreign Policy. He has reported from India, Cuba, Rwanda, Colombia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Afghanistan. 


Vandal Love: novel about the end of the French-Canadian exodus. (Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book)

Cures for Hunger: a memoir about having a bank robber father. (An IndieNext pick, a selection for Oprah’s summer reading list, and one of the best memoirs of 2012 by

Of Bonobos and Men: Journey to the Heart of the Congo: A journalistic account of bonobo conservation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism and Grand Prize winner)

Into the Sun: A novel about the civilian surge in Afghanistan. (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction and chosen by CBC/Radio Canada as one of the most important books of 2017 to be read by Canada's political leadership)

Kuei, My Friend: A Conversation on Racism and Reconciliation: Epistolary nonfiction coauthored with First Nations poet Natasha Kanapé-Fontaine.

White: A novel about neocolonialism in the Congo. (Foreword Indie Book of the Year Awards: Bronze Winner for General Fiction)

My Favorite Crime: Essays and Journalism from around the World

A Song from Faraway: A novel about a family whose members traverse nearly two centuries of war. 

Selected publications

Born Identity: One Soldier's Story of Transition: feature about Jennifer Long, an American soldier who transitioned between genders while serving in Afghanistan.

Mon Ami, Vice: essay about the lasting impact of having a criminal father. (Nominated for a Canadian National Magazine Award and selected for Best Canadian Essays 2017)

Disobedient Ancestors: essay about family, criminality, and the history of the Catholic church in Québec.

Word Nerd: profile of linguist and cultural critic John McWhorter. (2021 gold CASE Award) 

The Radical Street Art of Havana's Youth: feature about the work and lives of Cuban street artists. 

praise for INTO THE SUN

"A ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping portrait of the expatriate community in Kabul—the idealists, mercenaries, aid workers and journalists circling around a war offering them promises of purpose, redemption, or cash, while the local Afghans in their orbit negotiate the ever-changing and ever-dangerous politics of the latter stages of the American war in Afghanistan. Brilliant." — Phil Klay, Nation Book Award-winning author of Redeployment

"Into the Sun is the sort of book I'm always hungry for—the serious novel in which the guns literally go off. Béchard makes me think of Graham Greene and Robert Stone, which is heady company, indeed.” — Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Independence Day and The Sportswriter. 

"Into the Sun is a story of haunting beauty rendered from the haunting legacy of the Afghan War. In scope and skill, Béchard's portrait of those who are both drawn to and entangled by conflict is reminiscent of the best works of Graham Greene and Philip Caputo. This novel is a fitting paean to the wrecked souls of an endless war" — Elliot Ackerman, author of Green on Blue

“Deni Ellis Bechard's Into the Sun is an ambitious novel that succeeds on all levels. It's a riveting mystery-thriller that also probes deeper into the nature of war and the ways in which it attracts and transforms some people. Into the Sun has the propulsive force of a car bomb in the bloodstream, quickening the reader's pulse at every turn, right up to the very last page.” — David Abrams, author of Fobbit

"We wake from this book as witnesses to Kabul, to America and to the crimes of men who need destruction to find definition and women desperate to understand. Béchard is channeling Melville and Conrad, their oceans and rivers replaced with dust and smoke. There are sentences on these pages that will be quoted in universities and taped to newsroom desks for a century." — Benjamin Busch, author of Dust to Dust

"Into the Sun is one of the finest novels I've read in years, an unrelenting and daring masterpiece about war, the quest for understanding after tragedy, and the power of human yearning for connection. Deni Ellis Bechard has delivered a vital book that will change the way you see the world." — Jesse Goolsby, author of I'd Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them

“Into the Sun is ambitious, elegant and filled with a kind of ferocious intelligence. Bechard explores the culture of the war zone, creating a compelling picture of that dark and turbulent place." — Roxana Robinson, author of Cost and Sparta

"An ambitious and nuanced story about a small group of friends in Kabul in the wake of 9/11...   Insightful and affecting" — Kirkus

"Interweaving elements of combat journalism with mystery fiction in this riveting tale, Béchard's multilayered plot draws a vivid and timely portrait of contemporary, war-torn Afghanistan." — Booklist

"Béchard (Vandal Love) has written a novel of Afghanistan—its past, present (and future) turbulence, and those wishing to get a sense of Kabul without going there should start here." — Library Journal

praise for A Song from Faraway

"An observant, lyrical and powerful consideration of the violent expansiveness and dangerously flawed stories North American fathers have bequeathed to their sons. Tough of mind and tender of heart, its beauty is wholly entrancing.” — Anita Felicelli, San Francisco Chronicle

"Béchard continues his interest in the relationship between myths and fiction writing in this complex, captivating tale . . .  [He] provides rich insight into his characters’ search for meaning through art." — Publishers Weekly

“A brilliant, gorgeous novel like nothing I’ve ever read before. With perfect sentences Béchard writes about vulnerable lives, churning for recognition and purpose beneath the forces of history. The scope of this novel and the complexity of its characters are astounding. This book will make you rethink the incredible power of the stories we tell about ourselves and our inglorious past.” — Jennifer Percy

“Lavish and seductive, gloriously kaleidoscopic in conception, Deni Ellis Béchard’s A Song from Faraway is a tremendous literary achievement and a page-turner. I fell under its spell completely.” — Elizabeth McKenzie

"Brave and complex, A Song From Faraway is prose of the highest order, offering a masterclass of characters that have nowhere to hide under the harsh light of their flawed lives. In this blanched terrain, Béchard proves himself to be a magician of a storyteller, deftly commanding the reader's attention with one hand while the other produces surprise after magnificent surprise." — Dimitri Nasrallah 

“A Song From Faraway brings us around the world, singing a song about the folly of truth. It is unsettling and playful and uncanny and breathtaking. Deni Ellis Béchard does in this work what a novel should do; he makes it new and spellbinds us with it.” — Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

“Powerful, intimate, and compelling, Béchard’s novel will take your breath away. He shows us how fiction meets and transforms history to become fiction again, how what seems faraway—our fathers’ battles, ancient art, the people we love—is nearby, and how mystery continues to propel both our histories and our private lives.” — Johanna Skibsrud

“A magnificent creation of enigmatic prose and conceptual realization” — James M. Fisher, The Miramichi Reader