Linda Leith Bio

Montreal writer and publisher Linda Leith was born in Northern Ireland and has lived in London, Basel, Paris, Budapest, and Ottawa.

Her most recent book is the literary history Writing in the Time of Nationalism: From Two Solitudes to Blue Metropolis (Signature 2010), published in a French translation as Écrire au temps du nationalisme by Alain Roy (Leméac Éditeur, 2014).

Marrying Hungary is a memoir originally commissioned by Leméac and published in French as Épouser la Hongrie (2004, trans. Aline Apostolska), and then in Serbian (Rad, 2005, trans. Aleksandra Mancic) before publication in English (Signature 2008).

Leith is the author of three novels: Birds of Passage (Signature, 1993), which was reviewed as “an excellent first novel” in the Times Literary Supplement; The Tragedy Queen (Signature, 1995), translated into French as Un Amour de Salomé (XYZ Éditeur, 2003, trans. Agnès Guitard), winner of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Translation; and The Desert Lake (Signature, 2007).

Her translation into English of Louis Gauthier's Travels with an Umbrella: An Irish Journey (Signature 2000), was shortlisted for the Glassco Prize and the QWF Translation prize.

A former publisher and editor of Matrix magazine, she also has an academic background and is the founder of Blue Metropolis Foundation and was President and Artistic Director of the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival from its inception in 1999 to 2010. She created Linda Leith Publishing / Linda Leith Éditions in June 2011, publishing literary fiction, trade non-fiction, and cartoons in print and electronic formats as well as online literary magazine Salon .ll. She is Treasurer of the distributor LitDistCo and President of the Association of English-language Publishers of Quebec (AELAQ).

Education and experience

Linda Leith holds a B.A., First Class Honours in Philosophy from McGill University and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of London (1976); her thesis is on the English fiction of Samuel Beckett. She has published critical work in both Canadian and international literary and scholarly publications (including Studies in Canadian Literature, Québec Studies, Lettres québécoises, Science-Fiction Studies, and New Hungarian Quarterly) and has taught at John Abbott College, at McGill and at Concordia University.

After reviewing works of contemporary Canadian and Quebec literature for Quill & Quire and The Canadian Forum, she was invited to edit a special issue of Canadian Fiction Magazine focused on the work of English-language writers from Quebec; this was reprinted as Telling Differences: New English Fiction from Quebec (Véhicule Press, 1989). She was Fiction Editor for Véhicule Press 1988-1995, selecting and editing a series of award-winning novels and short story collections for publication. As publisher and editor of Matrix magazine (1988-1995), she transformed a very little magazine into an award-winning literary magazine with the highest paid circulation in Canada.

Her first book, the literary monograph Introducing Hugh MacLennan's Two Solitudes, was commissioned by ECW Press (1990) and later translated as Deux solitudes (XYZ Éditeur, 2008, trans. Hélène Rioux). Leith's own translation of Quebec author Louis Gauthier's Voyage en Irlande avec un parapluie, entitled Travels with an Umbrella: An Irish Journey (Signature, 2000), was nominated for both the QWF Translation Prize and the Glassco Prize.

As Vice-chair of The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC), Leith worked with fellow writers Ann Charney and Mary Soderstrom to organize a notable literary event in French and English. Write pour écrire took place in October 1996 and was the first collaboration on a literary event between TWUC and Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois.

A member of the board of Journées de la Culture (1989-1990), Leith was the founding Vice-President of Quebec Writers' Federation (1998-2003) and sat on the Commission consultative en littérature for the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ; 2008-2010). She has sat on several arts council juries and on the jury for the Commonwealth Book Prize.

Winner of the Quebec Writers' Federation Community Award in 2003, she was in 2009 the recipient of Canada's Commissioner of Official Languages' first Award of Excellence, Linguistic Duality, and is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her "contribution to Canada."

Blue Metropolis Foundation

Linda Leith founded Blue Metropolis Foundation in 1997. As President and Artistic Director of Blue Metropolis for a period of 14 years ending with her resignation in  2010, she designed and produced a wide range of innovative literary and educational activities for the Foundation. These include, most notably, the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, which was the world's first multilingual literary festival, bringing such international stars as Norman Mailer, Paul Auster, Mavis Gallant, Maryse Condé, Derek Walcott, Adonis, Margaret Drabble, Alaa al Aswany, A.S. Byatt, A.B. Yehoshua, Amitav Ghosh, and Carlos Fuentes to Montreal. Considered a model of diversity and inclusion, Blue Metropolis has been nominated for many honours, including the Grand prix du Conseil des Arts de Montréal both in 2001 and in 2007.