Brian Francis

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Brian Francis
Francis speaking at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto in 2019
Francis speaking at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto in 2019
Born1971 (age 49–50)
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Notable worksFruit, Natural Order, Break in Case of Emergency, Box 4901

Brian Francis (born 1971) is a Canadian writer. His 2004 novel Fruit was selected for inclusion in the 2009 edition of Canada Reads, where it was championed by novelist and CBC Radio One personality Jen Sookfong Lee.[1] It finished the competition as the runner-up, making the last vote against the eventual winner, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes.[2]

Published in Canada by ECW Press and released on May 4, 2004, Fruit is the story of Peter Paddington, a teenager living in Sarnia.[3] Overweight, gay and a social outsider, Paddington regularly retreats into an active fantasy life which includes his own nipples talking to him, and the novel traces his journey toward self-acceptance.[3]

The novel was published in paperback format in the United States by Harper Perennial on August 2, 2005 under the title The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington. In 2014, Amazon included the novel on its list of "100 Canadian Books to Read in a Lifetime."[4]

Fruit was well received by critics, with Entertainment Weekly referring to it as "sweet, tart, and forbidden in all the right places."[5]

Francis' second novel, Natural Order, published by Doubleday Canada, was released on August 23, 2011. The novel tells the story of a mother coming to terms with the death of her adult son.

Natural Order was positively reviewed by critics and made Best Books of 2011 lists for the Toronto Star[6] and The Georgia Straight.[7] The novel was short-listed for the Ontario Library Association's 2012 Evergreen Award and 2012 CBC Bookie Awards.[8] Natural Order was designated a Top 40 selection for Canada Reads 2014.[9]

He was awarded an Honour of Distinction citation by the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Prize, a literary award for emerging LGBT writers in Canada, in 2008.[10] In 2010, he served on the Dayne Ogilvie Prize jury, selecting Nancy Jo Cullen as that year's prize winner.[11]

In 2011, Francis created Caker Cooking, a weekly humour blog featuring "the best of the worst of mangiacake cuisine."[12]

In March 2015, Quill & Quire magazine debuted Francis' advice column, "Ask the Agony Editor."[13] The monthly humour column fields questions from readers about publishing and writing.

In its Summer 2018 issue, Taddle Creek magazine debuted a new humour food column by Francis that features retro and vintage recipes from Francis's collection of community cookbooks.[14]

In August 2018, Francis debuted a new performance piece, Box 4901, as part of the Summerworks Lab Series.[15] Directed and co-created by Rob Kempson, featuring a cast of 13 actors and performed in part by Francis himself, Box 4901 recounts Francis's attempt at finding love via a personals ad he placed in 1992. NOW magazine gave the piece 5 Ns and said it was full of "wisdom, humour and heartbreaking honesty".[16] The Globe and Mail called the piece a "knockout," "fascinating," and "haunting."[17]

In May 2019, Timeshare Performance announced Box 4901 would be part of the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 2019/2020 season, running from February 27 to March 8, 2020. Box 4901 performed to sold-out audiences.[18] called it a “profound must-see,”[19] Mooney on Theatre called it “a lovely memoir that is absolutely worth seeing,”[20] and NOW magazine said, “Francis’s writing has the sparkle of the best of David Sedaris, and his insights into his life are heartbreaking in their honesty.”[21] Box 4901 was nominated for three 2020 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble (Independent Theatre Division), Outstanding Lighting Design (Independent Theatre Division) and Outstanding Sound Design/Composition (Independent Theatre Division).[22]

Francis' third novel, Break in Case of Emergency, was published September 10, 2019 by HarperCollins Canada[23] and marked his YA debut.[24] The novel, about a 15-year-old girl and her estranged female impersonator father, deals with issues about teen mental health, suicide and sexual orientation. The novel was well received by critics with Apple Books calling it a "knockout,"[25] and The Globe and Mail saying it "packs a powerful punch."[26] The novel was also chosen as a Best Book of 2019 by The Globe and Mail,[27] Quill and Quire,[28] Apple Books[29] and CBC Books.[30] The novel was published in the United States in February 2020 with Inkyard Press.[31]

Break in Case of Emergency was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Governor General's Literary Awards in the category of Young People's Literature - Text.[32] The novel was also nominated for a 2021 Forest of Reading White Pine Award for fiction.[33]

Francis, who is gay,[34] has also worked for the Toronto publications Xtra! and NOW.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Canada Reads goes queer" Archived 2014-11-01 at the Wayback Machine. NOW, November 27, 2008.
  2. ^ "Lawrence Hill's 'The Book of Negroes' wins Canada Reads" Archived 2014-10-22 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian, March 7, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples". Quill & Quire, May 2004.
  4. ^ "100 Canadian Books to Read in a Lifetime", Amazon
  5. ^ "Review", Entertainment Weekly, August 20, 2004.
  6. ^ "Our reviewers’ Top 100 books of 2011. What’s yours?" Toronto Star, December 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Critics make year-end book picks". The Georgia Straight, December 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "The second annual CBC Bookie Awards!". CBC Arts, March 6, 2012.
  9. ^ "Canada Reads Top 40: Explore the books". Canada Reads, October 24, 2013.
  10. ^ "Zoe Whittall wins Dayne Ogilvie Grant". Quill & Quire, June 17, 2008.
  11. ^ "Writer Nancy Jo Cullen is a rising talent" Archived 2012-07-21 at the Wayback Machine, Xtra!, September 9, 2010.
  12. ^ "Tater tots, Tang, and potato chip casserole: Brian Francis, Caker Cooking", CBC, December 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ask the agony editor: firing publicists and book launch drinking", Quill & Quire, February 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Francis, Brian (Summer 2018). "Devilishly Elegant". Taddle Creek. Toronto. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  15. ^ "Box 4901". SummerWorks. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  16. ^ Sumi, Glenn (13 August 2018). "SummerWorks review: Box 4901". NOW. Toronto. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  17. ^ Schabas, Martha (23 August 2018). "Review: Vivid examples from real life spill into art at the Summerworks Performance Festival". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
  18. ^ "BOX 4901". Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  19. ^ Peter Knegt (March 4, 2020). "Box 4901 might be the gayest play ever produced in Canada, and it's a profound must-see". CBC. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  20. ^ Rachel Schwartz Fagan. "REVIEW: BOX 4901 (TIMESHARE PERFORMANCE)". Mooney on Theatre. Megan Mooney. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  21. ^ Glenn Sumi (March 3, 2020). "Box 4901 is a profound and moving look at seeking connection". NOW Central Communications Inc. NOW. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Announcement: 2020 Dora Awards – Virtual Edition – Nominees Grid". Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). June 8, 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  23. ^ "Break in Case of Emergency". HarperCollins Canada. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  24. ^ Morocco, Lauren (December 4, 2018). "HARPERCOLLINS ACQUIRES BRIAN FRANCIS'S YA DEBUT, BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY". HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollinsCanada. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  25. ^ "Break in Case of Emergency". Apple Books. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  26. ^ "October's Best Bets for Children's Books". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  27. ^ MARGARET CANNON; JEFFREY CANTON; JADE COLBERT; SEAN ROGERS; ALEC SCOTT (November 29, 2019). "The Globe 100: Books that shaped 2019". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  28. ^ Shanda Deziel (December 5, 2019). "2019 Books of the Year: Books for Young People". Quill & Quire. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  29. ^ "APPLE RELEASES LIST OF BEST BOOKS OF 2019 IN CANADA". Auburn Lane. December 3, 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  30. ^ "The best Canadian YA and middle-grade books of 2019". CBC Books. December 19, 2019. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  31. ^ "Break in Case of Emergency (Hardcover)". Harlequin Trade Publishing. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Governor General's Literary Awards". Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  33. ^ "2021 White Pine Award™ Nominees". Ontario Library Association. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  34. ^ "Pulpy, fleshy difference" Archived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, Xtra!, July 22, 2004.

External links[edit]