TORONTO, ON, October 12, 2022 – Award-winning journalist and crime analyst Luis Horacio Nájera is the recipient of the 2022 PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship, which provides peer mentorship to one member of PEN Canada’s Writers-in-Exile program each year. He is working on his forthcoming memoir under the guidance of David Bezmozgis.
Nájera built his reputation writing for the Ciudad Juárez, Mexico-based Grupo Reforma and has lived in exile in Canada since 2008. He is the author, with Peter Edwards, of The Wolfpack: The Millennial Mobsters Who Brought Chaos and The Cartels to the Canadian Underworld (2021). A member of Massey College, Nájera was previously a fellow at the Citizen Lab/Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the PEN Canada-George Brown Writer in Residence. He holds master’s degrees in Global Affairs and Disaster and Emergency Management from the University of Toronto and York University respectively.
“The opportunity to become the recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship is a major milestone in my career,” says Nájera. “Through the generous support and guidance of my assigned instructor, it is my hope that at the end of this program I will be able to deliver a memoir that informs and inspires its readers to actively engage in defending press freedom and freedom of expression, both domestically and internationally.”
Established in 2017, the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-in-Exile Scholarship provides a full scholarship to attend the Humber School for Writers’ graduate certificate program in creative writing. Over 28 weeks, the selected writer works one-on-one with one of Humber’s faculty mentors on a book-length English-language manuscript of fiction or non-fiction.
“PEN’s partnership with Humber College has given a voice to writers who have lived through major political and humanitarian crises,” says Grace Westcott, president of PEN Canada. “It has allowed their stories, often silenced by exile, to reach significant audiences in Canada and beyond. At a time when more than 25 million refugees, and at least 50 million forcibly displaced persons, lead fearful and precarious lives at the margins, it has never been more important to bring these narratives to the fore.”
Previous scholarship recipients include Aaron Berhane (2019), Maria Saba (2020), and Arzu Yildiz (2021).
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Photo credit: Marianela Najera Duran