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Kai Thomas is a writer, carpenter, and land steward. He is Afro-Canadian, descended from Trinidad and the British Isles. In the Upper Country is his first novel and was shortlisted for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Born and raised in Ottawa, Thomas now lives in the Capital District, New York.

Award History

2023 Winner

Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
for In The Upper Country

Jury Citation

In this exceptional debut, Kai Thomas deftly and compassionately braids deeply engrossing stories within stories that explore a little-known aspect of Canadian history. In the Upper Country is a mesmerizing, lyrical testament to the power of storytelling, as this is among the protagonists’ tools for survival in a harsh reality rife with violence and dehumanization. Thomas immerses us in the novel’s compelling landscape where, despite an honest depiction of the effects and consequences of enslavement for Black and Indigenous peoples in Canada, hope remains palpable.

Works recognized by WT