Suzette Mayr (Born 1967)
Suzette Mayr, an award-winning author and professor, is thought to be the first out queer winner
of Canada’s prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Mayr is of German and Afro-Caribbean background. In her writing,
she often explores issues of race, identity and sex, using humour, cultural mythologies and
surreal imagery. She earned an Honours bachelor’s degree in English from the University of
Calgary, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alberta and a Ph.D. from
the University of New South Wales.
Mayr has six published critically acclaimed novels – “Moon Honey” (1995), “The Widows”
(1998), “Venous Hum” (2004), “Monoceros” (2011), “Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley
Hall” (2017), and “The Sleeping Car Porter” (2022) – as well as two books of poetry. She also
co-edited and/or contributed to six anthologies.
In 2010, Mayr served on the jury for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, a literary award for
emerging LGBT writers in Canada, naming Nancy Jo Cullen of Kingston, Ontario, as the winner.
Mayr has done inter-disciplinary work with Calgary theatre company Theatre Junction, and with
visual artists Lisa Brawn and Geoff Hunter. She was a writer-in-residence at Widener University
in Pennsylvania. She is a past President of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Mayr is a professor in
the Department of English, University of Calgary, where she has taught creative writing since
Mayr has won numerous awards and honours, including:
 In 1996, “Moon Honey” was nominated for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Henry Kreisel
Award for Best First Book.
 In 1998, Mayr’s novel “The Widows” was nominated for the Commonwealth Prize for
Best Book in the Canada-Caribbean Region.

 In 2002, Mayr participated in the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program at the
University of Calgary.
 In 2005: Mayr’s novel “Venous Hum” was long-listed for the ReLit Award, which
focuses on writers at the beginning of their careers and works published by independent
 In 2011: Mayr’s novel “Monceros” was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize,
nominated for the Ferro-Grumley Award for the year’s best work of LGBT fiction, and
included on the Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Books of that year.
 Also in 2011, Mayr won the inaugural Faculty of Arts Distinguished Research Award.
 In 2012, Mayr’s novel “Monoceros” won the Relit Award and the W.O. Mitchell City of
Calgary Book Prize, and the novel was nominated for the Georges Bugnet Award for
Best Fiction.
 In 2017, the Toronto Star included Mayr’s novel “Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of
Crawley Hall” in its list of “The 25 Canadians books we can’t wait to read,” and “Room”
Magazine” named that same novel among their list of “17 Books to read in 2017.”
 In 2022, Mayr won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel “The Sleeping Car Porter,”
published by Coach House Books in Toronto. The novel was also longlisted for the
Republic of Consciousness Prize (US and Canada). The book was one of the 10
bestselling books in Canada and CBC named it as one of the Top 10 Canadian books of
the year.
 During the week ending January 25, 2023, “The Sleeping Car Porter” was declared the #1
best-selling Canadian fiction book.
In a 2022 CBC interview, Mayr said: ?One of the things that I want people to take away from
[‘The Sleeping Car Porter’] is to be nice to people in the service industry. It’s important that
Black people become part of the fabric of the history of this country. It gets a little tiring when
the only time you talk about it is in February because it’s Black History Month. It’s every month.
It’s everywhere.”
To write “The Sleeping Car Porter,” Mayr undertook nearly two decades of intense research,
beginning from the moment she first had the idea for the novel. Her research took her across
Canada and to New York City, as she worked to understand the lives of Black and gay men in
the 1920s – made even more challenging since gay men of that time were deeply closeted, and
especially so for Black men. Mayr also researched the lives and work of railway porters, how
they lived and what their work culture was like. About her writing and research process in
producing the book, Mayr said, “I think people would be surprised by the abundance of research
that feeds a novel and builds its foundation.”
(Sources:, University of Calgary Department of English,
Wikipedia, Writers’ Guild of Alberta, CBC website)

Photo credit: John Kristalovich/Scotiabank Giller Prize