BOOKS BY DANILA BOTHA
Things That Cause Inappropriate Happiness
a short story collection
(Guernica Editions, March 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
"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
https://shop.benmcnallybooks.com/item/VdSFGWNT96bZFSJ4dvXQ3g Ben Mcnally Books
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A Place for People Like Us- A Novel
(Guernica Editions, 2025)
Espresso Books, Always an Angel Never A God, chapbook (2023)
Changing the Face of Canadian Literature: A Diverse Canadian Anthology, edited by Dane Swan, contributer (Guernica Editions
For All The Men (and Some of the Women) I've Known
In For All The Men (and Some of The Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.
“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
“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
“I discovered [author Danila Botha] while I was reading books for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award specifically her delightful first story collection, Got No Secrets. These stories are written in a gutsy, head-on, colloquial style about love, sex and mis-connection among the urban 20-somethings she knows so well. Her characters are all compulsively themselves, driven, probably always, to make a mess of things, but vulnerable, full of desire, and often touchingly witty.”—Douglas Glover, author of Elle
“A searing and beautifully forthright collection about the angst, chaos, tragedy and hope in the quest for love. A series of unique, riveting and perfect portrayals that pulls no punches. Reading these stories made me smile and made me want to smash things.”—Lisa de Nikolits, author of The Nearly Girl
"A collection of taut, lucid testimonials to the impossibility of modern love, For All the Men... is brutally honest and surprisingly romantic. The characters in these stories find themselves inhabiting the still bare rooms of domesticity and erotic possibility, until with a single wrong gesture or missed connection, they fall victim to their impossible romantic demands. A fiction collection that is funny, wise and propulsively readable."
Jury Comments from The Trillium Book Awards (Cherie Dimaline, James Grainger, and Soraya Peerbaye)
"This collection 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
"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 Vallely, The Winnipeg Review
"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
"Botha’s collection is a fascinating example of what happens when we choose to ignore our instincts...thoughtfully, tragically, and insightfully captures the peculiarities of modern relationships in the time of texting, online dating, and an unnerving urban detachment we’ve come to recognize as a normal thing."
Lydia Kardum, The Literary Lollipop
*Longlisted for the Miramichi Reader's Very Best! Book Awards
Too Much on the Inside
Set in the sub-cultural heartland of Toronto's Queen Street West, Danila Botha's Too Much on the Inside explores the depths of human connection as the lives of four people in their twenties converge with the impossible task of escaping their pasts in Brazil, Israel, South Africa, and Nova Scotia. They wrestle with love, heartbreak and angst while trying to build new identities. Too Much on the Inside is an authentic amalgam of relationships and perseverance, in the tradition of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, Camilla Gibb's The Petty Details of So and So's Life, and J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, illuminated with the author’s own unique insights
Optioned for film by Pelee Entertainment (2022)
"Danila Botha's writing is both tenderhearted and sharp in all the best ways. In Too Much on the Inside there is so much to admire."
Zoe Whittall, The Best Kind of People
"Danila Botha's new novel is a kind of bouquet -- a vase full of life snippets from Toronto's late-night world. Sweet and sharp, musky and startling, and full of yearning, the lives of these recent arrivals mingle together to create a vivid sense experience. Too Much On The Inside is an easy read in the best sense of the word: pacy, deftly plotted, hugely enjoyable."
Richard Scrimger, Mystical Rose
“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
“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
“ Set in Toronto’s gritty Parkdale neighbourhood, the story 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
"Too Much On The Inside is a multi-narrated elegy to Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood that is both candid and wise."
Marissa Stapley, The Toronto Star
"Danila Botha’s sharp debut novel follows the intersecting lives of four young Toronto residents as they come to terms with their often-violent past, and often-disappointing present. Pointedly capturing the trajectory of many immigrants, Too Much On the Inside offers an honest, emotional look at how our individual journey shapes our lives with others."
Karen Green, Bookclubbish.com
"Aptly set in the heart of Toronto’s mecca for self-expression, Queen St. West... Danila Botha’s greatest achievement lies in the power of her highly authentic portrayal of these disparate voices. Danila Botha’s characters are nothing if not resilient. Recently landed immigrants, and indeed anyone who has experienced the simultaneous elation and dread that accompanies embarking on a new relationship will see themselves here. Too Much on the Inside will surprise you with its insights and comfort you with its wide appeal."
Susan Carolan, Broken Pencil Magazine
“An earthy portrait of love, loss, and confronting the past set in Toronto’s Queen St W, Danila Botha’s first novel is incredibly moving, gritty, and authentic. Too Much on the Inside is an honest and moving love letter to Toronto’s hodgepodge cultural fabric exploring bar life, cross-continental connections, and heartbreak...Too Much on the Inside is an exploration of four fascinatingly dissimilar characters whose lives intersect and influence each other irrevocably. The novel reminds me of the fugal interlacing of P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia and the down-to-earth sincerity of J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy... It is an incredible feat of literary structural engineering... Botha’s writing is masterful – deceptively simple, with an astonishing attention to detail that creates a multi-coloured fabric of distinct locales and personalities.”
Mike Fan, The Book Shelf, Guelph
"It’s always a treat to read a fine first novel, and Danila Botha’s Too Much on the Inside is no exception...Her characters often made me think of those Contents Under Pressure labels on spray cans — people about to burst open from the force of their untold, richly layered stories. Botha has the gift of equally rich language to bring them to life, and her wonderful descriptions of downtown Toronto’s colourful vibe make for vivid three-dimensional reading.."
Carole Giangrande, author of Here Comes the Dreamer
"[Too Much on the Inside] is full of energy, enthusiasm, and compassion...Danila seems to have bottled youth in this book, with its four narrators, Nicki, Dez, Lukas, and Marlize, all facing Toronto as relative newcomers trying to deal with their prior lives... these are powerful voices, fizzing and competing to be heard."
Alix Hawley, award winning author of All True, Not A Lie In It
"This is an insightful and compassionately written novel about the lives of four twenty-somethings who are recent arrivals to Toronto...This is very much a Toronto (and a love letter to Queen West) story seen through the eyes of those not born here...The author did a terrific job exploring the aftermath of what it's like to grow up in contexts of violence, and how each character must ask themselves how they now can try to be good people...I recommend this book. Its characters will stay with me for a long time."
Farzana Doctor, award winning author of All Inclusive
"Danila Botha’s intriguing and insightful Too Much on the Inside....illustrates the immigrant experience in a unique, unexpected way..Too Much on the Inside is about that elusive intersection between ambition and expectation. Or, if we want to get really blunt: fantasy vs. reality, what we want vs. what we actually have, and our inability to accept what is...within the final pages I caught a glimpse of potential, a promise of peace. Highly recommended for anyone who has ever been thrown under the bus of life."
Lydia Kardum, the Literary Lollipop
"Dez, Lukas, Marlize and Nicki – the protagonists of the story, literally have “too much on the inside.” Their hurts, anxieties and hopes for the future are concealed from others, but always on the verge of spilling over the top. The title of the book is a perfect metaphor for being in your twenties, but also for living in Toronto – a bustling, multicultural city where everyone is from somewhere else, homesick, striving, forced to coexist in a melting pot of everyone’s different histories, disappointments and ambitions."
Simone Paget, Skinny Dip
Got No Secrets
A South African copywriter is transplanted to the urban jungle of Manhattan. A recovering rape victim tries to resume a normal life. A Toronto nurse cuts herself to fill her emptiness. Through the short stories of this collection and the distinct resonance of each narrative voice, the private lives of twelve different women are explored with only one question in mind, What is it like to be them? From addiction to abuse, childhood to suicide, and from Johannesburg to downtown Toronto, Danila Botha's stories are compassionate, provocative, often funny and always fearless.
*Included in Britannica's Literature Review in 2010 for debut short story collections
“These stories grab you by the throat and don’t let go, bearing witness to lives in which self- destruction and hope are like symbionts, each feeding the other” – Nino Ricci
“Dark, relentless and unflinching, Danila Botha’s is a bold new voice” – Julia Tausch
"Danila Botha's stories are both intriguing and disturbing. Dealing in subjects like abuse ,rape and addiction, she manages never to alienate the reader. Her voice becomes particularly unique in the way she combines the South African and Canadian experience. A new writer with great promise." - Melinda Ferguson
" Danila Botha's Got No Secrets is a writing out, a complete undress of the mind. It is not florid, it is functional, not a bouquet but a firing range. It's brilliant. It's the honesty which makes it so 'unavoidable' " – Toast Coetzer
"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 website in Paradox is real... and a browse of it grounds the story... You look at the real porn site and see [the character of Jennifer] in the fresh faces and splayed bodies of dozens of women barely out of their teens… Botha plunges you into a psyche in the process of abandoning everything sustaining - school, friendship, family, food - in favour of the quickest route to the next tab of E or hit of heroin… Botha's setting is vivid and her character relationships well developed in this entry [Heroin Heights], drawing us inside these fraught and precarious lives… The staying power of the tale [Just Quietly, Do It] lies in Botha's carefully inflected first-person narration. Numbed by brutality and her own denial, Katie comes to us in a voice drained of emotion, her account of domestic atrocities chilling in its dry simplicity and candour."
-Jim Bartley, The Globe and Mail
"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
“In the tradition of Canadian women authors like Zoe Whittall and Heather O'Neill, these short stories (largely inspired by the author's experiences dealing with at-risk youth as an outreach worker) thrust you into the characters' minds with equal parts sympathy and self-awareness… The visceral prose most effectively portrays just how slippery that slope can really be, how easy it is for a person to go from privilege to poverty, from life to death, sometimes so gradually that you never even see it coming. The characterization is deep, often affectionate, always allowing you judge for yourself. The writing is stark, honest, and stripped-down, making no excuses, just like the classic punk [music] that sees frequent mention throughout. In the tricky navigation of nature versus nurture versus free will, the question that Got No Secrets asks is: exactly where does bad parenting end and self-determination begin? " Richard Rosenblum, Broken Pencil Magazine
“In her delightfully dark short story collection, Danila Botha examines the lives of drug addicts, emotional cutters, the physically and emotionally abused, and other compelling but tormented characters. While her stories are serious subject matter, Botha’s story telling technique seamlessly blends tragedy with humour, making this collection a must have for your daily commute.”
-Heather Holditch, Toronto Word on the Street
“Danila Botha’s debut collection of short stories makes the personal political. With clear diction, Botha’s prose packs a punch. There’s no skirting the issues, masquerading behind metaphor or dancing between the lines. The Johannesburg-born, Halifax-based author sets many of her stories in Toronto and South Africa. Heavily influenced by Heather O’Neill, Bikini Kill and pop culture, Botha explores the various shades of self-destruction. She trusts all darkness brings light, though it isn’t always in plain sight.”
-Shannon Webb-Campbell, The Coast, Halifax
“Here’s a book for those of you who like your literature hungover, angst-ridden, strung out, and with trackmarks… Got No Secrets clearly shows that Danila Botha has a real fire in her belly, and you feel the flames… she’s earned my attention with her vehement debut.”
-Chad Pelley, Salty Ink
"With a bright beamed flashlight, Danila Botha investigates the cracks in her characters' messy and poignant lives. Her stories are disturbing, honest and sad. She has a real talent for expressing raw emotion and vulnerability." – Michelle McGrane