Outside People and Other Stories

Winner, IPPY Gold Medal for Multicultural Fiction

Mariam Pirbhai - Outside People and Other Stories

“With clear-eyed compassion, generosity and literary brilliance, Mariam Pirbhai has deftly illuminated characters whose lives in literature are usually relegated to the shadows of the mainstream.”

  • Shani Mootoo, author of Cereus Blooms at Night, and Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

“Featuring a diverse, multicultural ensemble cast of characters, Mariam Pirbhai’s debut short story collection Outside People & Other Stories examines themes of displacement, race and globalization to reflect the Canada we all live in.”

  • CBC ‘95 Must Read Books from 2017’

“…this collection will go on my 2018 longlist for The Very Best! Awards in the short fiction category.”

  • Miramichi Reader

Read Book Blurb and Extracts

HOW TO BUY THE BOOK

Purchase directly from Inanna Publications.

Also available at on-line retailers, including Amazon, Indigo-Chapters, Brunswick Books.

Outside People and Other Stories

A Haitian woman survives the ravages of an earthquake only to find her sister, an émigré in Montreal, the subject of a grisly crime. A chambermaid in a Mexican tourist resort frequented by Canadian tourists wonders why all the men in her life seem to leave her for distant lands. A Jamaican migrant worker at an Ontario chicken farm comes to the aid of his Peruvian co-worker on the eve of a fatal car accident. And a young Pakistani-Canadian woman finds herself in the midst of a protest march defending Muslim women’s rights on the same day she has agreed to meet her Moroccan lover. These are just a few of the perspectives in Mariam Pirbhai’s debut short story collection, Outside People and Other Stories.

Outside People and Other Stories inhabits the cultural and familial fissures created by global migration and transnational labour in the twenty-first century, and pulsates with the signs of interconnection moving its characters’ lives across nation, hemisphere, and world.

Bio

I was born in Pakistan and lived in England and the Philippines before immigrating to Canada. My debut short story collection titled Outside People and Other Stories, recently won the (2018) IPPY Gold Medal for Multicultural Fiction, and was ranked among CBC’s top ten reader-recommended “must reads” of 2017. I am a Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, where I teach and research in the area of postcolonial studies and global Anglophone literatures. My husband and I live and work in Waterloo, Ontario.

Currently, I am working on several new projects, including a first novel dealing with the escalation of anti-Muslim violence in Canada, from the perspective of four very different families living in the provinces of Ontario and Québec. One might say that water is also a character in this novel. Please stay tuned!


Here is the link to Mariam’s profile at the Writer’s Union of Canada:
https://www.writersunion.ca/member/mariam-pirbhai

Here is the link to Mariam’s faculty web-page:
https://www.wlu.ca/faculty-profiles/arts/mariam-pirbhai.html

Press

What people are saying…

“With clear-eyed compassion, generosity and literary brilliance, Mariam Pirbhai has deftly illuminated characters whose lives in literature are usually relegated to the shadows of the mainstream. In doing so she has given much needed, long-overdue breath to a cast of characters who create the landscape even as they have been, until now, invisible in it. As Diane Arbus is to photography, so is Mariam Pirbhai to literature—bringing forth the margins, but nobly, with understanding and an unusual generosity in her handling of contemporary society’s machinations.”

  • Shani Mootoo, author of Cereus Blooms at Night, He Drown She in the Sea, Valmiki’s Daughter, and Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab

Half way through these dazzling stories and I feel like this is the Can Lit I’ve been waiting for. Nine stories from perspectives of the “invisible” people in Canadian society, “those whose stories rarely get told: people (largely though not exclusively women) of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds navigating the Canadian or trans-American workforce as temporary migrant workers, bankers, chambermaids, civil servants, and the like.” Plus, “the collection also includes a unique feature in Canadian literature: a glossary of the languages spoken by this multiethnic cast of characters, including Spanish, French, Urdu/Hindi, and even Caribbean creoles.” Thank you, Mariam Pirbhai.

  • Dr. Candida Rifkind, Department of English, University of Winnipeg

“Unflinching and clear-eyed, Pirbhai makes protagonists out of those who have often been relegated to background roles, to stunning effect.”


“In short, Outside People and Other Stories is an exceptional group of short narratives that are appealing, insightful and a treat to read. Rhoda Rabinowitz Green, the author of Aspects of Nature, says of Outside People: “Outside People and Other Stories views the world and humanity through a wide-angled lens. Give it a read. It will both entertain and enlighten.” I thoroughly agree, and this collection will go on my 2018 longlist for The Very Best! Awards in the short fiction category.”

  • Jim Fisher, Miramichi Reader

“What a stunning debut this collection, Outside People and Other Stories, is for Mariam Pirbhai. These stories transport us into the lives mainly of newcomers to the Canadian landscape. The broad range of characters includes first-and second-generation Canadians, new citizens, temporary workers and even a worker in a resort in Mexico that caters to numerous Canadian clients. The power of the stories lies in the author’s success at capturing the worlds of the marginalized and racialized so vividly, with such understanding and compassion, that we cannot ignore or dismiss their humanity. Indeed, we are enriched by it. This book deserves a wide readership.”

  • Mary Lou Dickinson, author of Would I Lie to You? and The White Ribbon Man

“With intelligence and command of her craft, Pirbhai invites us into the lives… of the émigré and following generation(s): from Pakistan, India, Morocco, Jamaica, Mexico, Japan, Philippines, Haiti. As a result of the portability of technological skills, rapid global communication, and mobility across continents, “outside people” find themselves in a state of displacement and… sense their “otherness” as perceived through the eyes of others. Outside People and Other Stories views the world and humanity through a wide-angled lens. Give it a read. It will both entertain and enlighten.”

  • Rhoda Rabinowitz Green, author of Aspects of Nature

Interviews

Creative Lives: The Interview Series

Remapping Canada: An Interview with Mariam Pirbhai
Interviewer: Maryam Mirza, University of Bonn
In this interview Mariam Pirbhai reflects on the transformative power of fiction, the trope of social invisibility, and the emergence of South Asian Canadian literature.
Download the PDF

All Lit Up

Short Story Month: Interview with Mariam
Our final short story month feature for 2018 is a doozy: Mariam Pirbhai’s debut collection Outside People and Other Stories (Inanna Publications) has already won awards for her evocative writing. We talk with Mariam about how you can have influences for style and others for substance, how she hasn’t left a story behind…yet, and read some of “Air Raids” from her collection.

Tell-Tale: Share Your Story

Mariam Pirbhai Featured on ‘Tell-Tale-Share Your Story
An Interview with Award-Winning Author: Mariam Pirbhai on Her Life, Thoughts, and Journey in Canada

Open Book

Mariam Pirbhai on Bringing Invisible Characters into the Spotlight
Unflinching and clear-eyed, Pirbhai makes protagonists out of those who have often be relegated to background roles, to stunning effect. It’s an exciting debut from the Waterloo-based academic and we’re excited to welcome Mariam to Open Book today as part of our Lucky Seven series.

Tag TV

TV Interview
Mariam Pirbhai Reflects on her Literary Journey in ‘Living multiculturalism’.

The Miramichi Reader

The Mariam Pirbhai Interview
Mariam Pirbhai is the author of the short story collection Outside People and Other Stories (2017, Inanna Publications). In my review, I stated that “Outside People is an exceptional group of short narratives that are appealing, insightful and a treat to read.” Since this was Ms Pirbhai’s first published work of creative fiction, I wanted to interview her to get her thoughts on publishing as well as getting more insight into the creative processes she used to create the characters and stories of Outside People.

Generally About Books

Canada offers stories of different diasporas: Mariam Pirbhai
Mariam explains, the stories in her collection explore “what it means to have to experience forms of migrancy (even as someone impacted by another’s immigration) at different levels of precarity or isolation.”

Faculty Spotlight

Laurier associate professor’s début collection of short stories focuses on “Outside People”
Wilfrid Laurier University Associate Professor Mariam Pirbhai writes a different kind of Canadian literature. In it, you won’t meet red-haired orphan girls, imperialists or lumberjacks. You’ll meet migrant farm labourers, domestic workers and a multiethnic cast of first- and second-generation Canadians working in Canada’s cities and towns.

Events

Mar
24

Meet the Author: Waterloo Public Library

March 24, 2018: 3:00-4:30 pm
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Apr
11

Between Words & Worlds: New Canadian Women’s Writing

IFOA (International Festival of Authors)
April 11: 7:30 pm, Toronto Harbourfront
Read more →

 

Jun
14

“Writing Precarious Citizens in Recent Canadian Fiction.”

Canadian Creative Writers Summit
June 15: 9:00 am -10:15 am, Toronto Harbourfront
Read more →

Other Work

Academic and Professional Work

Mariam Pirbhai is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, where she specializes in postcolonial studies and teaches courses on global and multicultural literatures in English. She is also the author and editor of several major academic studies, including: