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God Isn't Here Today

Short Fiction
Invisible Publishing

LONG-LIST,  2023 Carol Shields Award for Fiction
FINALIST, 2023 Indigenous Voices Award
WINNER, 2023 ReLit award for Short Fiction 


"Even as they flirt with the fantastic, Cunningham’s stories unfold with the innate elegance of a spring fern, reminding us of the inherent dualities in human nature—and that redemption can arise where we least expect it."

The stories in Francine Cunningham’s debut collection God Isn’t Here Today ricochet between form and genre, taking readers on a dark, irreverent, yet poignant journey led by a unique and powerful new voice.

    Driven by desperation into moments of transformation, Cunningham’s characters are presented with moments of choice—some for the better and some for the worse. A young man goes to God’s office downtown for advice; a woman discovers she is the last human on Earth; an ice cream vendor is driven insane by his truck’s song; an ageing stripper uses undergarments to enact her escape plan; an incubus tires of his professional grind; and a young woman inherits a power that has survived genocide, but comes with a burden of its own.

Praise for God Isn't Here Today

“This is a fierce collection: fiercely smart, fiercely funny, fiercely inventive. Francine Cunningham takes the reader from strip clubs to God’s waiting room, from a tormented ice cream truck driver to a bored ghost with career aspirations. This collection almost reads like a novel, as the characters move in and out of each other’s stories—sometimes solo, sometimes in chorus—spilling out their tormented, glorious, messy lives to the lucky, greedy reader.”

—Annabel Lyon, author of Consent 

“Cunningham is uniquely funny even through homophobia, whorephobia, death and aching loneliness… Opening this collection feels like stepping into a lively discussion between friends you’ve known since kindergarten when someone is already mid-rant, in a good way.”

—Sarah Ratchford, Maisonneuve

“The stories in God Isn’t Here Today reveal Francine Cunningham as a gimlet eye observer of humanity, with boundless empathy and a searing sense of humour. The prose is intimate and direct, like an honest best friend breathlessly telling all, while embarking on formal experimentation that guides the reader through the grand possibilities of fiction.”

—Doretta Lau, author of How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?

“God Isn’t Here Today is a collection, I feel, that is whispered in the calligraphy of ghosts. Cunningham continues to both astound and haunt all who discover her. Wow!”

—Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

“‘Pornorama,’ ‘Spectre Sex,’ ‘Mickey’s Bar’: these Francine Cunningham stories pop and pull my heart out. In her first collection, God Isn’t Here Today, the Goddess is most definitely here. An essential new voice.”

—Linda Svendsen, author of Sussex Drive: a novel

“Cunningham’s characters find light in darkness, music in silence, and moments of transformation when they least expect it.”

—The Quarantine Review


WRITING and illustrations BY

On_Me Cover copy.png




Caitlin Press


BC & Yukon Book Prize 2020

for The Jim Deva Prize for Writing that Provokes.


Indigenous Voices Award 2020

for a poetry book in English

The City of Vancouver Book Award 2021

 In her debut poetry collection ON/Me, Cunningham explores, with keen attention and poise, what it means to be forced to exist within the margins.

Francine Cunningham lives with constant reminders that she doesn’t fit the desired expectations of the world: she is a white-passing, city-raised Indigenous woman with mental illness who has lost her mother. Cunningham does not hold back: she holds a lens to residential schools, intergenerational trauma, Indigenous Peoples forcibly sent to sanatoriums, systemic racism and mental illness, and translates these topics into lived experiences that are nuanced, emotional, funny and heartbreaking all at once. ON/Me is an encyclopedia of Cunningham, who shares some of her most sacred moments with the hope to spark a conversation that needs to be had.

Praise for ON/me

“Cunningham doesn’t pull her punches, but they are quick, stinging hits, capturing difficult realities, the in-between worlds of belonging and not, of bearing the assumptions that make us a part of a group or alone. The dangerous smoulder of her mind is masterfully harnessed to clarity, illuminating pain and turbulence without being tragic.”

                       —Eden Robinson, author of Trickster Drift

“Potent artistry, redolent with the beauty and bitterness of everyday life: each poem draws you in—compels you on to the next, yet
you linger. Every page a chef-d’oeuvre—katawasisin!”

—Darrel McLeod, author of Governor General award-winning memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

“Francine Cunningham’s On/Me is a generous and arresting meditation on mental health, urban Indigeneity, and mixed-blood identity. These poems deftly explore contemporary conversations while remaining rooted in ancestral knowledge. Make no mistake, this is a song of resilience.”

—Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings

“In this collection, Francine Cunningham’s crisp and gorgeous poems take on so much of what it is to be a person: to consider the meaning of family, to experience grief, to live with mental illness, to eat KFC, to tease and to laugh. With pitch-perfect details, these poems get personal and emotionally universal, and show us how humour and love are the things that hold us together. These poems hold stories that need to be told.”

—Dina Del Bucchia, author of It’s a Big Deal!

“Despite being small, on/me takes some time to chew and digest. Cunningham has an intuitive knack for making a single image almost endlessly expansive. Even if a reader has processed the words on the page, the world the poet has constructed linger vividly in the reader’s mind.”


“Although stark, the poems also display a wry sense of humour […] Engaging, expressive, and explosive poems.”


—Jonathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press

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