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Shashi Bhat

Shashi Bhat was born in Richmond Hill, Ont.  She received a B.A. in English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction from The Johns Hopkins University.  Bhat lived for a time in Halifax, N.S. where she was an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at Dalhousie University.  Currently (as of summer 2017), Bhat teaches Creative Writing at Douglas College and is the editor of EVENT magazine. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of literary journals and her first novel was published in the winter of 2013.  Her short story “Why I Read Beowulf” was first published in the journal PRISM International and selected as one of the finalists for the 24th annual Journey Prize and appeared in The Journey Prize: Stories: The Best of Canada’s New Writers (Toronto: Emblem/McClelland & Stewart, 2012). Bhat’s short story “Mute” published in the Dalhousie Review is the winner of 2018 Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Book cover of The Family Took Shape


The Family Took Shape

Toronto: Cormorant Books, 2013.
PS8603 .H38 F35 2012

Awards and Honours

2014 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award (Shortlisted)

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

When Mira Acharya’s father dies, the challenges facing her Indo-Canadian family become that much more daunting. Ravi, her autistic older brother, requires special care but longs to be just like other children. Their mother must work full time to keep a roof over their heads and still make time to be a parent to an over-achiever and a developmentally challenged child. As much as Mira loves her mother and brother, she resents the situations in which living with them places her.

It is only when Mira is older that she realizes a truth she has been missing all along: though her family’s experience may be unusual, what holds them together – has always held them together – is universal.


The Most Precious Substance on Earth

Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2021.
PS8603.H38 M67 2021

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Nina doesn’t say anything when her best friend begins to drift away, or when her crush on her Grade 9 English teacher intensifies. She doesn’t say anything when her mother tries to match her up with local Indian boys unfamiliar with her Saved by the Bell references, or when her worried father starts reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. And she won’t speak of the incident in high school that casts a shadow over the rest of her life.

On her path from nineties high school student to present-day high school teacher, she will learn painful truths about existing as a woman in the world. And as she struggles with her responsibility to her students—even as she fumbles through her own life—she will discover that the past is never far behind her.

Set in Halifax, and by turns darkly funny, deeply moving, at times unsettling, even shocking, The Most Precious Substance on Earth examines the fraught relationships that can exist between teachers and students, and between those who take and those who have something taken. 

Awards and Honours

2022 Governor-General’s Literary Award–English fiction (Finalist)

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Chilana, Rajwant Singh. “Shashi Bhat.” In South Asian Writers in Canada: A Bio-Bibliographical Study. Surrey, BC: Asian Publications, 2017, 280.
Z1376 .S68 C45 2017


Shashi Bhat personal website

Publisher Cormorant Books

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada, owner of the McClelland & Stewart Imprint

Shashi Bhat page from agency The Rights Factory