“Years ago I had a dream,” says Camilla Gibb. “To write fiction. Someone—an anonymous benefactor—gave me a gift of $6,000 to quit my job and give it a try.”
Seldom does an investment pay off so magnificently. Since then, Camilla has written four internationally acclaimed novels. Her work has won a Trillium Award, a City of Toronto Book Award, a CBC Canadian Literary Award, and has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Not only that, but she has paid the original gift forward. First, by helping a friend in Vietnam to open his own small business. And second, through her dedicated work with aspiring writers.
With a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Oxford University, Camilla writes with particular empathy about exile, displacement, identity, and belonging. Unafraid to leap imaginatively across cultural and historical divides, she inhabits her characters so fully that they seem fully authentic.
“Sweetness in the Belly…reflect[s] the pain, cultural relocation and uncertainty of tribal, political, and religious refugees the world over,” said Kirkus in a starred review, while the New York Times called her most recent novel, The Beauty of Humanity Movement, “essential reading for anyone mulling a visit to Hanoi.”
This is Happy, Camilla’s first memoir, explores the theme of belonging closer to home. A story about “family and community and the unexpected ways these can come into being,” it promises to be every bit as moving and richly textured as her fiction.
An adjunct faculty member of the graduate creative writing programs at the University of Guelph-Humber, the University of Toronto, and the Humber School for Writers, Camilla is currently the June Callwood Professor in Social Justice at Victoria College. She lives in Toronto.
Appearing in 46. Identity and Belonging