The HSW Literary Agency



A very busy spring for the HSW Literary Agency!

Spring is only just upon us, and its already proving to be an exciting season! There are several awards and press clippings to report, not to mention a fantastic new sale and fabulous forthcoming author events...

New sale:

Margaret Hart, in association with Italy’s Agenzia Letteraria Internazionale, sold Italian rights to Joseph Kertes’ National Jewish Book Award-winning Gratitude (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s 2009) to Elliot Edizioni.

First published by Penguin Canada in 2008 and translated by Caleidoscópio (Portugal), also in 2008, Gratitude tells the story of a Hungarian Jewish family that is saved from deportation during the second world war, only to banish from their lives as soon as the war is over the very cousin who rescued them. This is an intelligent, moving novel after The Garden of The Finzi-Continis and Suite Francaise.

Nairne Holtz’s This One’s Going to Last Forever (Insomniac Press 2009) is a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction! Since their inception in 1989, the Lambda Literary Awards, or Lammys, have honoured outstanding writing by and about the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered community. This year’s awards gala will take place in New York City on May 27, 2010.

This One’s Going to Last Forever collects Holtz’s darkly comic short stories and a novella, “Are You Committed?” Heralded by as a “rich” novel that “combines the personal with the political through characters that are engaged in real struggles and triumphs,” This One’s Going to Last Forever is peopled by unforgettable characters who find love in the most unexpected places. Congratulations, Nairne! We’re rooting for you!

Book cover

Blue Mountain Trouble (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 2009), the debut young adult novel by Martin Mordecai, has received two new accolades.

First, Blue Mountain Trouble was named to the United States Board on Books for Young People’s honour list of best international books for readers in grades three to five. More recently, Blue Mountain Trouble—one of Kirkus’  Best Children’s Books of 2009—was honoured here in Canada with a nomination for the Canadian Library Association’s 2010 Book of the Year for Children Award.  The CLA winners will be named on June 3, 2010 at the CLA National Conference and Trade Show. Good luck, Martin, and congratulations on all your successes so far!


ForeWord Reviews has announced the nominees for the 2009 Book of the Year Awards, and we’re thrilled that Frances Burton’s Fire (University of New Mexico Press 2009) is honoured in the Social Science category! Every year, ForeWord assembles a diverse group of readers, librarians, and booksellers to single out exceptional works by independent publishers and authors as Books of the Year. This year’s award winners will be named at Book Expo America, which will run May 25 to 27, 2010 at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Center.

In Fire,  Frances Burton, a professor emerita of anthropology, illustrates the host of evolutionary changes—from the environmental to the physiological to the psychological—that were made possible only by human’s discovery of fire. Congratulations on your nomination, Dr. Burton! We’re so proud!


Sarah Elton’s Locavore (HarperCollins Canada) is poised for release, and it’s garnering lots of advance press! A sampling:

- UofT Magazine: “Mealtime Patriotism”
- Times Colonist: “Livin’ la vida Locavore”
- Globe & Mail: “To market, to market”
- Globe & Mail:“Local food: Is it good or bad?”
- My Local Food: “Locavore – The Book”


We’re thrilled to announce that Therefore Choose (Goose Lane Editions 2010) by Keith Oatley is one of the National Post’s spring book highlights. Look for it under “April Fiction,” and then check bookstores for your copy starting at the end of April!



Gratitude wins National Jewish Book Award for Fiction!

joeJoseph Kertes’ Gratitude (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's 2009) has won the National Jewish Book Award for fiction—one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States!

Established in 1948 and administered by the Jewish Book Council, the National Jewish Book Awards honour eminent Jewish-interest books with broad appeal. Past winners include Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel, Chaim Potok, and Issac Bashevis Singer. For more information about the awards themselves, please visit the Jewish Book Council online at

First published by Penguin Canada in 2008 and translated by Caleidoscópio (Portugal), also in 2008, Gratitude is tells the story of a Hungarian Jewish family that is saved from deportation during the second world war, only to banish from their lives as soon as the war is over the very cousin who rescued them. This is a highly intelligent, moving novel after The Garden of The Finzi-Continis and Suite Francaise.

Our most sincere congratulations, Joe. We are so proud of you and your achievements!

El Numero Uno
takes centre stage.

El Numero Uno, a play by Humber School for Writers alumna and HSW Literary Agency client Pamela Mordecai, has its world premiere at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People on February 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm. The play, which runs from January 31 to February 25, 2010, features distinguished African Canadian actor Walter Borden, and is directed by ahdri zhina mandiela.

For further information on this musical fable about a hot-headed teenage pig-chef-in-training who rescues his island community from spellbound twin Beasts, visit the theatre’s website.

For tickets, please call 416-862-2222.

A well-travelled and well-received City of Words.

saraheltonThese past few weeks, Sarah Elton and her City of Words: Toronto Through Her Writers’ Eyes (Cormorant Books) have been all over the metropolis that inspired the collection!

After the November 30th launch at Ben McNally Books, Sarah chatted with She Does the, and Metro Morning’s Andy Barrie. For all you late-risers, the CBC has kindly made the audio of Sarah and Andy’s Toronto talk available online.  Then, as reported by Open Book Toronto, City of Words was named one of the top fiction picks of the season by Ben McNally Books!

Other news-stops on the City of Words tour: a chat with the alumni magazine published by Sarah’s alma mater; profiles in the Toronto Star and on Live With ; and an interview with Torontoist’s Erin Balser. In the coming weeks, Sarah’s fans can also look forward to reading about City of Words in The National Post.

Gratitude finds favour with American audiences.

joeWriter Joseph Kertes recently travelled to New York and New Jersey in support of the stirring and intelligent Gratitude, which was published in the US by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press in October. While in Albany, Joe discussed the inspiration for Gratitude on Northeast Public Radio. Audio of that interview is now available online.

Joe’s well-attended New York and New Jersey appearances were highlights of an exciting fall season that saw Gratitude “warmly recommended” by Library Journal; praised for its depiction of “both the inhumanity of the [Nazi] perpetrators and the resilience of the [WWII] survivors” (Booklist); and heralded for its “endearing and memorable” characters, and “straightforward style [that] moves the story along at a healthy clip” (Publishers Weekly).

Book trailer for James Bow’s The Night Girl!
The book trailer for James Bow’s clever, winning The Night Girl is here!

More information about The Night Girl can be found here. To catch up with the ever-busy
Mr. Bow, visit his website.

Blue Mountain Trouble one of Kirkus’ Best Children’s Books of 2009!

Kirkus Reviews named Martin Mordecai's spectacular first novel, Blue Mountain Trouble (Arthur A. Levine Books) to its list of the Best Children';s Books of 2009!  Click here for the complete list (pdf).

In praising Blue Mountain Trouble, Kirkus and Mordecai himself weighed in on the novel's strongest points: "Mordecai's lyrical prose truly evokes a sense of the landscape and its inhabitants, who speak a dizzying dialect of Jamaican Creole. There's also a dash of the occult, violence and drugs, but Mordecai didn't feel the need to shy away from such serious subject matter. "None of these things are celebrated, but these are facts of life" he says. "Children aren't immune to awareness of these things, nor should they be. The focus of the book is how the characters deal with these problems."

Congratulations, Martin! We're so proud!

The Clock of Heaven has staying power, “subtle mystery”

Eleven months after he first read it, the Globe and Mail’s first-fiction reviewer is still talking about Dian Day’s superb debut!
In recapping his favourite first books of 2009, Jim Bartley gives Day’s The Clock of Heaven (Inanna) an honourable mention, enthusing, “Dian Day integrates grim humour and straight-up pathos with a subtle mystery. [The Clock of Heaven] builds to an incendiary climax, then pleasingly delays resolution until the last moment.”

This praise follows The Clock of Heaven’s silver medal win in the literary fiction category of the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Congratulations, Dian, on this latest accolade!




Blue Mountain Trouble makes a splash in Jamaica!

On a recent trip to the country that inspired his acclaimed Blue Mountain Trouble (Arthur A. Levine, 2009), Martin Mordecai met with some of students at his alma mater, Central Branch All-Age School:


Martin’s travels later took him to the Bookland bookstore in Kingston, where he read from his novel and happily signed copies for the eager young readers in attendance:


Heralded by Booklist as a novel that is “[rich] in characterization with a beautifully realized setting,” Blue Mountain Trouble continues to entrance readers and reviewers alike!

Book Trailer for Marina Cohen’s Ghost Ride now available online!

The book trailer for Marina Cohen’s spooky new novel, Ghost Ride, is here!

Ghost Ride will be published by Dundurn this fall.

This One’s Going to Last Forever is a resounding hit with book critics.

Nairne Holtz



Nairne Holtz’sThis One’s Going to Last Forever, which was published by Insomniac Press in April, has been enthusiastically received by critics! The Gazette (Montreal) called the collection “a funny, witty and original book,” and heralded Nairne’s work as “darkly comic and deeply heartfelt.” Finally, the Globe & Mail’s Tom Sandborn observed, “Holtz is an author who can range from the erotic to the absurd to the tragic without a false note.”

Congratulations, Nairne!


Book cover

Dian Day wins Independent Publisher Book Award

Dian Day’s The Clock of Heaven (Inanna Publications 2008) has won a silver medal in the literary fiction category of the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards (a.k.a. IPPY Awards). Congratulations, Dian!

The eighty-five categories of this year’s awards program fielded 4,090 entries from countries on both sides of the Atlantic. For more information about the IPPYs, please see Independent Publisher online at

Joseph Kertes wins Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award

The 21st annual Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards has honored Joseph KertesGratitude with its Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award for its poignant, insightful exploration of a Hungarian Jewish family’s survival of the Holocaust.

Awarded by the Koffler Centre of the Arts, the Canadian Jewish Book Awards will be distributed at a ceremony at Toronto’s Al Green Theatre on Monday, May 25, 2009. Congratulations, Joe! 

Pamela Mordecai is Open Book Toronto’s May Writer-in-Residence

The incomparable Pamela Mordecai, author of Pink Icing (Insomniac Press 2006) and Certifiable (Goose Lane Editions 2001), will be the writer-in-residence at Open Book Toronto during May 2009. Pamela’s thoughts on all things literary can be followed at

Steven Skurka

Steven Skurka, author of Tilted: The Trial of Conrad Black (The Dundurn Group 2008), will be speaking at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ 2009 Canadian Fraud Conference on Tuesday, May 5, 2009. In “The Trial of Conrad Black: A View From Inside the Courtroom,” Skurka will highlight his observations of Black’s 2007 fraud trial.

For more information, see the conference agenda at

Recent Reviews:

Martin Mordecai’s Blue Mountain Trouble, published by Arthur A. Levine Books in April 2009, has received starred reviews in both Quill & Quire and Kirkus Reviews. Both reviews noted Mordecai’s masterful invocation of Jamaica, its people, culture, and dialects, while Quill & Quire praised, “When human relationships are honest and precisely observed, as they are in this novel, everything else falls into place as newly familiar.”


Blue Mountain Trouble

Robert Carr’s Continuums (Mosaic Press 2008) was reviewed by the Globe & Mail, which applauded “Carr's nuanced character work and vividly drawn settings….”

The Globe & Mail’s first-fiction reviewer called Dian Day’s The Clock of Heaven (Inanna Publications 2008) “smartly conceived and movingly executed,” finding Day’s writing “finely attuned to the imaginative leaps and sensory palette of childhood….”

Joseph Kertes



Joseph Kertes' novel, Gratitude, published by Penguin Group (Canada) in spring 2008, has now been published by Caleidoscopio in Portugal and will be released in the USA by Thomas Dunne in 2009. It continues to generate interest internationally. Gratitude tells the story of a Hungarian-Jewish family that is saved from deportation by a cousin, only to banish that same cousin from their lives as soon as the war is over.