Danila Botha is the critically acclaimed author of five books, include the short story collections Got No Secrets and the Trillium Book Award, Vine Awards, and ReLit Awards finalist For All the Men (and Some of the Women I've Known.)
Her new collection, Things that Cause Inappropriate Happiness will be published by Guernica Editions in April 2024. Stories from it have appeared in Canadian, American and European literary journals, from the Antigonish Review and Grain Magazine to Flights Magazine, Bristol Noir and the Berlin Review. The title story was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her award winning novel, Too Much on the Inside was published in 2015. It was optioned for film by Pelee Entertainment in 2023. Her new novel, A Place for People Like Us will be published in 2025. She is currently writing and illustrating her first graphic novel, and she is always writing new short fiction.
Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness-
a short story collection (Guernica Editions, April 2024, now available for Preorder)
A Place for People Like Us- A Novel
(Guernica Editions, 2025)
THINGS THAT CAUSE INAPPROPRIATE HAPPINESS (April 2024)
Things that Cause Inappropriate Happiness is Danila Botha’s third collection of short fiction. In these brilliant stories she observes with her signature vulnerability and humour what it’s like to struggle to find your place in the world. From the bullied twelve-year-old (Born, Not Made) to the musician saved from sleeping in doorways (Blasting Molly Rockets), from the sculptor who builds a golem and fulfills her Holocaust survivor grandmother’s wish to protect her sister (Able to Pass) to a student who overdoses on opiates and meets an adult Anne Frank (Like An Alligator Eyeing a Small Fish), these stories pulse with Botha’s signature empathy and originality. Botha also addresses what it means to be Jewish, from characters who rethink their identity (Soulmates) to those who hold on at all costs (Dark and Lilac Fairies). As in her previous collection, the Trillium and Vine nominated For all the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Things that Cause Inappropriate Happiness will make you laugh and cry, but above all it will make you feel less alone
"We humans: what an endless braid of tender, joyful, painful, loving emotional pas de deux we live. In these stories, Danila Botha examines the complex knotting and unknotting of these contemporary relationships with vivid insight, deep compassion, and unflinching incision. They are virtuoso variations about what makes us human, what makes us—and our stories—irresistible, moving and compelling.
Gary Barwin, award winning author of Yiddish for Pirates and Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted
"This book is pure, raw power. Like Botha’s other work, the stories in Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness push against every boundary, offering unsettling glimpses into the wars women wage on their bodies, the messiness of finding and losing love, the self-sabotaging patterns that both propel and hold back. Botha is a master of balance, offering switchbacks between the pristine beauty of actual happiness paired with deep, unapologetic rage rooted in larger contexts like the patriarchy and historical genocides. Each story feels so real—the clear and authentic character voices often hold the power to reveal the exact essence of a character, sometimes in a single sentence. Though these stories capture a wide range of geographies and experiences, they always reflect on important, universal questions—where are the boundaries of forgiveness? Where is the line between two much and not enough?"
Leesa Dean, author of Waiting for the Cyclone and Filling Station
"This sparkling collection documents the inner lives of girls and women with vivid emotion and delicious attitude. Botha's brilliant stories demand to be chewed on, mulled over, and talked about. Casting off the expectations of traditional style, they offer readers the comfort of generational wisdom and a clear-eyed view of our tumultuous present."
Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings, Mudlarkers and Last Women
"Powerful and searing glimpses into people’s most intimate emotions. Danila Botha’s writing makes the reader stop cold, sit up and listen. She expertly finds deceptively quiet moments in her characters’ lives, that by the end of her stories, reveal themselves to be more pivotal than we first realized. The characters in this collection will stay with me for a long time. An exquisite book."
Sidura Ludwig, author of the Vine award winning collection You Are Not What We Expected
"In these deft short stories, Danila Botha explores the desires of a cast of young, urban artists driven to escape their circumstances, from trendy Shakshuka bars to reality matchmaking shows to the horrors of the Holocaust. With fine prose and tender insight, Botha has written an indelible collection."
Kathy Friedman, author of All the Shining People
"A great short story gives us 10,000 words worth of material with only 1000 on the page and the other 9000 left unspoken. Danila Botha's superpower is to do just that, to create stories that carry the weight of years, of the full spectrum of emotions, of hopes and dreams, in compact yet pleasing prose.
The stories in this collection lure us in then challenge us, giving us an unfiltered look into the darkest sides of the human condition, which ultimately means the darkest sides of ourselves. The stories cover a wide range of topics, some with the horrors of the Holocaust prominent in the rearview of the characters' lives, some in the era of #MeToo and others focused on love, love lost and the act of creation. It's a heavy collection that gives and takes, offering joy and sadness and conjuring the rare magic of truly great, rich prose. Botha's ability to convey complex emotions in the gray areas of our lives is stunning. She's a remarkable talent destined to be recognized in the upper echelon of Canadian Fiction. I can, regardless of how consciously or unconsciously, see her influence manifesting itself in my own work. Lovers of the short story cannot go wrong with this collection. Botha's skill is plain for all to see. She is not just a writer's writer, but a reader's writer as well.
Incredibly deep and powerful... [the stories] feel like John Cheever’s “Reunion,” using what’s said and what’s not said to give us a novel’s worth of story.... It’s a brilliant display of technical skill and a satisfying read, and [it] greatly impresses me."
JJ Dupuis, author of the Creature X Mystery series
"Botha has a straightforward style and a big heart. She captures the subtleties of human relationships, the desires, expectations, disappointments, cruelties, and, yes, moments of inappropriate happiness...The Chekhovian humanism and pulsing empathy throughout is more than evident...Botha captures the deep contradictory currents of the heart. She is also capable of delicate ironies and dark humour...Botha’s stories deliver news that stays news, reportage from the contemporary front lines. There’s nothing inappropriate about that."
Michael Bryson, The Miramichi Reader
"Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness by Danila Botha is a pristine collection of short fiction. Botha skillfully connects the experiences of her characters with moments of knowing, small epiphanies that resonate with wisdom, insight, and personal revelations. Her use of satire surprises and delights as stories take sudden twists, while the characters sometimes encounter historical figures who dialogue with them about deep, metaphysical issues. Echoing with deep cultural resonance, these stories dazzle with polish and charm."
Lucy M Black, author of The Brickworks
"Women’s bodies as source of pain, women’s pleasure is a source of pain—pleasure in food, sex, deviance—this is the thread in this compelling collection of short stories that I latched onto (and why the title is so perfect).
As women, it can feel like so much that makes us whole and complex and human is also what makes us inappropriate. One of my favourite stories in the collection is “Black Market Encounters” which is a story about a bunch of women who think they’re in a support group for women who’ve met partners (past or current) in socially unacceptable ways. A midwife who ends up married to and pregnant by the husband of one of her patients. A teacher who has sex with two of her teenage students. A nanny who has a threesome with her employers. A nurse who drugs one of her patients so she can be with the husband. This story frames these women as, not good, but morally complex, and on a spectrum—the effect of which forces us to interrogate where we draw the line. Sometimes it feels obvious, and sometimes, the line feels blurred. A remarkable collection"
Hollay Ghadery, author of Fuse and Rebellion Box
"Everyone in this book is alive. Painfully, nervously, ardently. This collection, (like Chekhov by way of Kathy Acker but utterly original,) is truthful and dreamy, tough and tremulous; sad and aching, seductively, with hope."
Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night
"For All The Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known might be Botha's most triumphant work to date... For All The Men has Botha delivering smart prose that seamlessly balances humour, disappointment and dysfunction...In addition to sharp and perceptive characterization, Botha's writing is perfectly paced. The reader repeatedly discovers moments in which everything seems to fall together: a character pulls you in, a beautiful scene is set, and before you know it, devastation unfolds... But Botha is consistently sympathetic to her characters experiences... Botha is an incredibly fresh voice in Canadian literature, and this visceral and remarkable collection feels like it's only setting the stage for much more to come"
Liz Worth, Quill and Quire Magazine (Starred Review)
"Like a series of orchestral variations whose loops and iterations are made vital by the steady introduction of new elements... These are stories full of people who disappoint, or are disappointed, yet they rarely end on a note of despair, which in today's Tinder-enabled relationship landscape seems almost like an act of subversion. She has a fine talent too, for putting emphasis in unexpected places.... This unexpectedness can extend to Botha's turns of phrase, which offers a wry counterpoint to her project as a whole"
Emily Donaldson, The Toronto Star
"In this powerful collection, we come to see the plenty sides of the heart: the good, the bad and the downright terrible...This stunning collection will absolutely affect you...Each of these stories are real and honest, open and gut-wrenching, and Botha makes them jump out from the page into your mind. The characters are unforgettable. This book will stay with you for a long time, as you ponder your own understanding of love long after you have shut the last page"
Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today
"Power dynamics pervade Danila Botha’s sophomore collection, which focuses on the romantic travails of a group of urban twenty somethings falling into and out of love, lust and friendship...Botha’s characters freely indulge in sex and drugs and copious amounts of alcohol in their quest to find succour or peace, though it becomes readily apparent that what they are most intent on discovering – and what proves most elusive – is some sort of authentic connection with another human being. The author is undeniably familiar with modern urban ennui, and the stories in her collection have an admirable directness and grit...Botha is clear-eyed in illustrating the ways her protagonists’ devotion to their vision of romantic purity is either subverted or results in the unintended consequence of alienating the very object of their longing"
Steven Beattie, The Globe and Mail
"The collection is composed of short, emotionally dense vignettes....By layering varying iterations of love’s path on top of each other, the stories tell how chance meetings or university flirtations can evolve into steep romances, then quickly into uncomfortable discoveries or withering affection. Botha has a talent with words and description and she is speaking smartly, even boldly toward and from within a milieu she understands... there are great moments of shine in this collection, including the break-up story “Start Being More Independent (and Stop Telling Me You Love Me),” which strikes a moving balance between the strangeness of getting to know one another, the self-narration of intimacy and the sudden simplicity of departure. The opening story, “Love and Polar Bears,” is an awesome blast of a young woman coming to terms with being the mistress in the grand narrative of her last relationship. At her best, Botha repaints the stoic male canvasses of Cheever and Carver, but with a sensing, reflective affect"
Jonathan Valelly, The Winnipeg Review
“With an ear for poetry and a knack for tragedy, Danila Botha is an expert on yearning. These stories are for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but not let go.”
Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Ghosted
"For All the Men and Some of the Women I've Known is unlike anything I have ever read before. Unflinchingly honest in its examination of love in all its joyful, messy, agonizing, spectacularly beautiful glory, these stories seem to vibrate on their own emotional frequency. Danila Botha writes with a heartbreaking rawness and intensity that will continue to haunt you long after you've turned the final page."
Amy Jones, author of We're All in This Together
“Danila Botha’s debut novel tells the extraordinary story of four individuals whose lives intersect in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. The narrative, which is constructed in alternating first-person voices, reveals a deep understanding of human nature… By the novel’s end… Botha makes clear [that love] the only thing that can save these characters.”
Safa Jinje, Quill and Quire Magazine
"Set in Toronto’s gritty Parkdale neighbourhood, Danila Botha's Too Much on the Inside burrows deep inside the heads of four twenty somethings as they fumble through tumultuous relationships in the hopes of finding happiness in their adopted home…despite its violence Too Much on the Inside is a tender love story”
Sue Carter, Metro News
“Danila Botha, whose first book drew praise for its compassion and urgency, brings similar sentiments to her interwoven portrayals of four new Torontonians of diverse origin (South Africa, Brazil, Israel and Nova Scotia) drawn to the openness and opportunities they sense Queen Street West might offer them… Too Much on the Inside deserves praise for representing Parkdale’s cultural vibrancy and diversity, and in doing so moving beyond the derelict-hipster dynamic characterizing so many works set in the neighbourhood. There is an admirable freshness and enthusiasm in Botha’s writing, qualities that do not inhibit her ability to describe dark and even violent events.”
Amy Lavender- Harris, The Literary Review of Canada
"One of the strengths of the opening story in Danila Botha's debut collection is its stripping away of the reassurances of the imaginary... The staying power in the tales lie in Botha's carefully inflected first person narration... (her character's) accounts of domestic atrocities are chilling in their dry simplicity and candour."
Jim Bartley, The Globe and Mail
"Danila Botha tells stories that ask questions, one of which - constantly recurring - is what happens when you stop being able to feel? The writing is fearless, honest and poignant."
The Cape Times, South Africa
"Danila Botha is an emerging literary lioness on Canada's literary landscape... Got No Secrets packs an emotional wallop...powerful and poignant... an honest and freshly forthright debut that is filled with the headaches and heartburns of youth gone awry."
Stephen Patrick Clare, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax
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