Shani Mootoo worked as a visual artist and video maker before becoming a published writer. After writing four novels, a book of poetry and of short stories, she has returned to painting and to photography. She continues to write, and, in 2020, releases her fifth novel, Polar Vortex.


She is intrigued by the shifting nature of perspective, and explores in her writing the intersections between public and private spaces. An ongoing interest concerns the tensions between the landscapes of Trinidad and Canada. Recently, her focus has moved away from the experience of dislocation to a closer, more personal apprehension of wild spaces. Her fiction has explored questions of desire and identity, and the relation of these to belonging and family. Mootoo understands that identity, like perspective, is inevitably shifting and multi-faceted. In her most recent visual work she seeks to explore these issues through the delineation of movement, and of reflection.


Mootoo's paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions locally and internationally, most notably at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Queen’s Museum in NYC, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, and at the Venice Biennale. Her photographs have been exhibited at Maison Depoivre in Prince Edward County, Canada.

Her videos include “English Lesson”, “Wild Woman in The Woods” and “Her Sweetness Lingers,” and have been screened in film and video festivals and art exhibitions locally and internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. 


For more on Mootoo's individual fields please click on the BooksVisual Art, Videography and Photography pages in the tabs above.

Her novels include Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, longlisted for the Scotia Bank Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Lambda Award; Valmiki’s Daughter, longlisted for the Scotia Bank Giller Prize; He Drown She in the Sea, longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Award, and Cereus Blooms at Night, shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Chapters First Novel Award, the Ethel Wilson Book Prize, and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Out on Main Street is her collection of short stories and her poetry collection is The Predicament of Or.

Mootoo's latest novel, to be released March 3, 2020 is Polar Vortex, set in the landscape of Southern Ontario.


For more about Mootoo's books and her literary life, please click on Books and on Curriculum vitae in the tabs above.

Mootoo earned a BFA from the University of Western Ontario, and an MA in English from the University of Guelph. She currently holds the position of Associated Graduate Faculty at the University of Guelph in support of the Creative Writing program in the School of English and Theatre Studies. 


Shani Mootoo was born in Ireland and raised in Trinidad. She lives in Canada.

  • @shanimootoo

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