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Irena Karafilly

Irena Karafilly is an award-winning Russian-Canadian writer of historical novels, poet, and aphorist. Author of seven books (five English, two Greek), Karafilly has also written book reviews and other articles in many newspapers, including the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

Irena Karafilly was born in the Urals, Russia. She has lived in five countries, most recently in Greece, before immigrating to Canada. Karafilly obtained an M.A. in English from McGill University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

While still an undergraduate, Karafilly sold a short story to Bob Weaver at the CBC and has since been trying to write an international bestseller so she could devote herself to writing full-time.

She debuted with the book Night Cries (1990), a collection of Greek village stories focusing on​ the lives of​ simple locals and the more complex expatriates​ living in their midst.

Her memoir, The Stranger in the Plumed Hat (2000), became the Finalist for the Canadian Writers’ Trust Prize​ and the Torgi Award. Her most recent novel, Arrested Song (2023), weaves the private and the historical into a vivid tapestry of Greek island life.

Her work has won several literary prizes, including the National Magazine Award and the CBC Literary Award. Her short stories have been broadcast, anthologized, and published in both commercial and literary magazines in Canada and abroad.

She speaks several foreign languages badly, swears perfectly in Polish and Greek, and writes in English about immigrants and other outsiders.

She has also worked as a secretary, administrator, editor, businesswoman, journalist, and university lecturer while trying to survive as a single mother.

Irena Karafilly currently divides her time between Montreal and Athens.

Photo credit: irenakarafilly.com
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