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Fiction Lesbian

How You Were Born

by (author) Kate Cayley

foreword by Alayna Munce

Book*hug Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2024
Lesbian, Family Life, Short Stories (single author)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price
  • Audio

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

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This tenth-anniversary edition of Kate Cayley's award-winning collection includes three new stories.

A young mother intrudes into the life of an older woman, thinking she knows what's best. An academic becomes convinced that he is haunted by his double. Two children spy on their supposedly criminal neighbours. A man enables his cousin's predatory impulses out of loyalty, and a circus performer dreams of a perfect wedding. These characters fail despite their best intentions and continue on despite their failures.

The stories in How You Were Born, each more incisive and devastating than the last, examine the difficult business of love, loyalty, and memory. Sharing the bizarre and tragi-comic of life—whether in present-day Toronto or in small towns of the early 20th century—Cayley champions the importance of connections, even when missed or mislaid, and the possibility of redemption.

About the authors

Kate Cayley is the author of two previous poetry collections, a young adult novel, and two short story collections, including How You Were Born, winner of the Trillium Book Award and shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. A tenth anniversary edition of How You Were Born is forthcoming from Book*hug Press in 2024. She has also written several plays, both traditional and experimental, which have been performed in Canada, the US, and the UK. She is a frequent writing collaborator with the immersive company Zuppa Theatre. Cayley has won the O. Henry Short Story Prize, the PRISM International Short Fiction Prize, the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and a Chalmers Fellowship. She has been a finalist for the K. M. Hunter Award, the Carter V. Cooper Short Story Prize, and the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, and longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize, and the CBC Literary Prizes in both poetry and fiction. In 2021, she won the Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry for the title poem in Lent. She has been writer in residence at McMaster University and the Toronto Public Library, and mentored emerging writers through the University of Guelph Creative Writing MFA, the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, Diaspora Dialogues, and Sisters Writes. Cayley lives in Toronto with her wife and their three children.

Kate Cayley's profile page

Alayna Munce grew up in Huntsville, Ontario, and has spent most of her adulthood in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, where she spends her time writing and working in bars and community centres. Her work has appeared in various Canadian literary journals and has three times won prizes in Grain Magazine's annual Short Grain Contest. In 2003 she won second prize in the CBC Literary Awards` travel writing category. In 2004 she was featured in the anthology Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets.

Alayna Munce's profile page


  • Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award
  • Winner, Trillium Book Award

Editorial Reviews

“Cayley’s collection is a series of tautly written, gripping tales full of emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to children’s relationships.” —NOW Magazine

How You Were Born is an ideal literary companion. Slimish, perfectly packaged, each story its own realized vision.” —Pickle Me This

“Cayley shows us, in How You Were Born, that the impulse to collect and then work through anxiety imaginatively is important and powerful.”—Cleaver Magazine

"A riveting collection that continually surprises with its effortless blend of the psychological, the domestic, and the surreal. Whether she’s exploring the lives of circus performers, over-imaginative children, or an elderly man convinced that his next-door neighbour is his doppelgänger, Cayley teases out unexpected insights, connections, dark secrets, and moments of transcendence.” —Trillium Book Award Jury Citation

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