TORONTO, October 24, 2023 – Dilan Qadir, a Kurdish Canadian writer, is the recipient of the 2023 PEN Canada-Humber College Writers in Exile Scholarship, which is awarded annually to one member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile community.
With one-on-one support from a professional writer-mentor, the scholarship program is intended for writers working on book-length projects, including a novel, a volume of short stories, or a book of poetry. For more experienced writers, the dialogue is peer-to-peer.
This year, Qadir will work under the guidance of David Bezmozgis, an award-winning writer and filmmaker and the Creative Director of the Humber School for Writers.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity provided by the Humber Scholarship,” says Qadir. “I hope the mentorship will provide much needed guidance in revising what will be my first novel.”
His novel is a fictional account of an Iraqi family living under the American occupation in 2003. The family—four adopted siblings and their adoptive parents—must reckon with the immediate effects of a war and its aftermath, as a world once familiar becomes strange. While it’s still in development, the book’s tentative title is “The Cave of Butterflies”.
Qadir grew up in Darbandikhan in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. Fearing for his safety, Qadir came to Canada in 2014 and now lives in Vancouver, B.C. on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh unceded territories.
“I have written about the clannish nature of Kurdish politics and the lack of freedom because of the dominance of dogmatic religious values and practices,” Qadir says, speaking of his journey to Canada. “At that point in time, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region were becoming heavily militarized with the appearance of the Islamic State. That’s why I chose exile.”
Years on, his writing—in Kurdish and English—has appeared in a number of online and print publications, including Quae Nocent Docent Anthology, The Lonely Whale Memoir Anthology, the Culture Project, and WordCityLit. He was the 2022 Writer in Residence at the Caetani Centre and his poems were longlisted for the Vera Manuel Award for Poetry in 2022. He holds a BA in English from Sulaimani University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College (Boston, Mass.). Now, with his Humber scholarship, he joins an alumni of previous recipients: Maria Saba (2020), Arzu Yildiz (2021), and Luis Horacio Nájera (2022).
About Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
Innovation. Opportunity. Partnership. Support. At Humber College, we bring it all to more than 86,000 learners, in-person and online. As a global leader in polytechnic education, Humber provides in-depth theoretical learning, hands-on, work-integrated experiences and applied research opportunities to students at three main Toronto locations and beyond. Extensive industry connections, experienced faculty and a comprehensive range of credentials, including honours undergraduate degrees, Ontario graduate certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships, and certificates prepare career-ready global citizens for success in the future world of work. Visit humber.ca.
The Humber School for Writers is noted for its exceptional creative writing mentors including authors of world stature. Past mentors include Martin Amis, Peter Carey, Miriam Toews, David Mitchell, Esi Edugyan, Nino Ricci, Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, Anne Michaels, Edward Albee, Ha Jin and Alistair MacLeod. Recent international authors have included Jenny Offill, Nell Freudenberger, and Ben Fountain.
About PEN Canada
PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization that celebrates literature, defends freedom of expression, and assists writers in peril at home and abroad. The English-language Canadian centre was founded in 1983 and is proud to be one of over 100 chapters of PEN International.
Communications Coordinator, PEN Canada