To publish work of the highest literary merit by world class authors from the mainstream and the margins of Canada’s three founding nations, as well as from both visible and invisible minorities within Canada’s cultural mosaic, and to work with all of our authors to build their national and international literary careers throughout their active writing lives.
We have more than 500 titles in print, and Talonbooks have received well over 300 awards. We have built and continue to keep in print one of the finest and most diverse literary lists in Canada.
Role in Canadian Publishing
Talon’s dedication to the publication of more than five decades of excellent Canadian literary work, created through an unbroken line of internal mentorship and succession of ownership in the company, has earned our publishing house the privilege of being one of the pre-eminent independent Anglophone literary presses in Canada. We are the only one of the pioneering “first generation” of Canadian literary publishers of the 1960s to have consistently maintained our success and independence over the past 50 years. We are Canada’s largest independent publisher of drama; publish more translations from Québec than any other; and publish more Indigenous voices than any other Canadian publisher with the exception of First Nations publisher Theytus Books.
Talon was first established as a poetry magazine with an editorial collective based at Magee High School in Vancouver in 1963. The magazine moved with its founders to the University of British Columbia in 1965. By 1967, the magazine had published so many young writers, Talon decided to become a book publisher for its authors.
Starting out with poetry, including the first books of Canada’s first Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Bowering (Sticks & Stones), and Ken Belford’s Post Electric Cave Man respectively; the press diversified into drama with Beverley Simons’s Crabdance, George Ryga’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, and James Reaney’s Colours in the Dark in 1969; into fiction with Jane Rule’s Desert of the Heart and Audrey Thomas’s Songs My Mother Taught Me in 1973; into Québec literature in translation with Robert Gurik’s The Trial of Jean Baptiste M. and Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles Soeurs in 1975; and into non-fiction with the collected works of ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout, The Salish People, Volumes I–IV, in 1979.
In the early 1980s, the press experimented with publishing highly successful commercial titles. However, we found that these not only took too much time away from new literary work but also threatened, by putting at too great a risk, the company’s solid literary backlist. For these reasons, the press returned to its original, exclusively literary mandate in 1985.
Over the past decade, Talon has diversified its literary non-fiction list to include works on global flash-points in the Middle East and the Balkans, Aboriginal rights and history and the movement toward reconciliation, and on other Canadian issues and politics.
Talon is a member of the following organizations:
The Literary Press Group
The Association of Book Publishers of B.C.
Canadian Booksellers Association
The Canadian Conference of the Arts
The Association of Canadian Publishers