Hamilton’s annual literary festival, gritLIT, asked Margaret Atwood to select two titles for its Spotlight Series this year, and one of her chosen books was DAUGHTERS OF SILENCE by Rebecca Fisseha, which was published last fall by Goose Lane Editions

On Saturday, April 18th, Rebecca will speak with CHCH TV presenter and gritLIT Board Chair Annette Hamm and Jesse Thistle, author of FROM THE ASHES, for a lively discussion about their chosen books, the creative process and the experience of emerging onto the Canadian Literary stage.

To purchase events to the festival, please visit: https://www.gritlit.ca/festival


Ash from the volcano in Iceland fills the skies. Flights are grounded throughout Europe. Dessie, a cosmopolitan flight attendant from Canada, finds herself stranded in Addis Ababa — her birth place. Grieving her mother’s recent death, Dessie heads to see her grandfather, the Shaleqa — compelled as much by duty as her own will. But Dessie’s conflicted past stands in her way. Just as the volcano’s eruption disordered Dessie’s work life, so too does her mother’s death cause seismic disruptions in the fine balance of self-deceptions and false histories that hold her family together. 

As Dessie reacquaints herself with her grandfather’s house, familiar yet strangely alien to her diasporic sensibilities, From the trauma of Italy’s invasion to the shame of unwed motherhood, and abuse that meets with silence, Dessie pieces together the mystery of her mother’s life, and through that process, comes to terms with her own.     

Reminiscent of the deeply immersive writing of Taiye Selasi and Arundhati Roy, Rebecca Fisseha’s Daughters of Silence is psychologically astute and buoyed both by metaphor and by the vibrant colours of Ethiopia. It’s an impressive debut.

Rebecca Fisseha is the author of Daughters of Silence, chosen by CBC Books and 49th Shelf as one of the most anticipated books of fiction of the year and by Quill and Quire as one of the Best Books for 2019. Fisseha’s stories, personal essays, and articles explore the unique and universal aspects of the Ethiopian diaspora and have appeared in literary journals and anthologies such as Room Magazine, Joyland, Lithub, Zora, and Addis Ababa Noir. Born in Addis Ababa, Rebecca Fisseha lives in Toronto. She is represented by Marilyn Biderman.