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.

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

Previous Books

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

Cures for Hunger, a memoir about his 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

Selected publications

This is the story of Jennifer Long, an American soldier who transitioned between genders while serving in Afghanistan.

This feature for Foreign Policy Magazine explores how the spread of revival churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in thousands of street children being accused of sorcery.

This feature in Pacific Standard documents radical Cuban street art in Havana with both interviews and photos, and this article follows up a year and half later to show how the artists' lives have been affected by further restrictions against artistic expression.

This essay, about the lasting impact of having had a criminal for a father, was nominated for a Canadian National Magazine Award and was selected for Best Canadian Essays 2017.

This cover story on the history of the Catholic church's oppression in Québec also explores questions of family and criminality.

This profile of linguist and cultural critic John McWhorter received a 2021 CASE Award (gold) for profile writing.