Writing of A Grave in the Air, Stephen Henighan’s most recent short story collection, The Times Literary Supplement observed that, “We ourselves are never foreign to these tales of foreignness.” Stephen Henighan’s short stories have been praised for what The Globe and Mail, writing of his earlier collection North of Tourism, an Indigo “What’s New What’s Hot” selection, called their “beautiful, fresh writing, which insightfully explores its territory: the disparate struggles of being an outsider in our so-called global village.” The Montreal Gazette praised Nights in the Yungas, Stephen’s first collection of stories as, “Well told, tightly structured and highly readable.”
Other Americas, Stephen’s first novel, was praised as “a remarkable first novel” by the Canadian Book Review Annual and “a very ambitious first novel” by Books in Canada. His second novel, The Places Where Names Vanish, was praised by critics for its originality, with The University of Toronto Quarterly pointing out that in this novel Canadian themes such as the immigrant experience and relations between Anglophones and Francophones are “all seen from quite a different perspective than usual.” According to Canadian Materials, The Places Where Names Vanish “offers a rare perspective on the Latino experience in Canada, and does so in a unique voice.” Stephen’s third novel, The Streets of Winter, was hailed by urban tabloids such as Hamilton, Ontario’s Viewmag as “a vital addition to our emerging urban literature.” It was widely reviewed and quickly went into a second printing. Stephen's fourth novel, The Path of the Jaguar, set in contemporary Guatemala, will be published in October 2016.
Stephen’s non-fiction includes the landmark essay collection When Words Deny the World, which went through three printings and was selected as one of the hundred best books of the year by The Globe and Mail. His travel memoir Lost Province: Adventures in a Moldovan Family, was chosen by The Lonely Planet Guide as essential background reading for visitors to the country and was translated into Romanian by Moldova’s largest publisher. Assuming the Light, Stephen’s study of the early career of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias, is highly regarded among enthusiasts of Latin American literature. Stephen’s most recent essay collection, A Report on the Afterlife of Culture, praised by The Harvard Book Review for its "intricate and tightly coiled explorations of the questions plaguing literature in a globalized world," was widely reviewed and discussed upon its publication in 2008.
A Green Reef, Stephen's essay on climate change, was named the "most thoughtful policy essay of 2013" by the president of the Public Policy Forum, and was translated into German. His 776-page book on the Nicaraguan writers Ernesto Cardenal and Sergio Ramírez, Sandino's Nation, has attracted both academic and general readers.
For his fiction Stephen has won the Potter Short Story Prize and a McNally-Robinson Fiction Prize. For his non-fiction he has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canada Prize in the Humanities, a National Magazine Award and a Western Magazine Award.
Stephen was born in Hamburg, Germany to an English mother and a father whose parents were Scots-Irish immigrants to New York. His parents met in Yemen, and by the age of nine Stephen had lived in seven houses in four countries. The remainder of his upbringing took place on a farm in Eastern Ontario. He earned a B.A. in political science from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, an M.A. in English literature and creative writing from Concordia University in Montreal, and a D.Phil. in Spanish American literature from the University of Oxford. Stephen also studied in Colombia, Romania and Germany. He has lived, worked and travelled in many countries.
Stephen teaches Spanish American literature at the University of Guelph, Ontario. For a list of his academic publications, click here.