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Sharon Bala

Sharon Bala was born in Dubai, raised in Ontario, and now calls St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador home. Bala established a name for herself as an award winning writer of short stories prior to the release of her first novel in January 2018. Her story, “Butter Tea at Starbucks” was first published in the literary journal The New Quarterly, went on to win the 29th edition of the Writer’s Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize  in 2017. The story is included in the Journey Prize Anthology for 2017. Another story, “Reading Week,” first published in PRISM International was longlisted for the same 2017 Journey Prize and also appears in the anthology. Bala’s undergraduate degree in psychology and history is from Queen’s University and she holds an MA in history from the University of Toronto.


The Boat People

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2018.
PS8603 .A49 B63 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is thrown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the “boat people” are members of a terrorist militia. As suspicion swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum.

Awards and Honours

2018 CBC Canada Reads 2018 (Finalist)
2018 Amazon Canada First Novel Award (Shortlist)

Anthology (Short story)

Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland

PS8329.5 .N3 R33 2015

Bala, Sharon. “A Drawer Full of Guggums.” In Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland, edited by Lisa Moore. St. John’s: Breakwater, 2015. 145-173.


Sharon Bala personal website

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada (publisher of the McClelland & Stewart imprint)

Reading Guide to The Boat People from Penguin Random House Canada