Frying Plantain


By Zalika Reid-Benta

Frying Plantain


A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.



ZALIKA REID-BENTA is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection FRYING PLANTAIN won the 23rd annual Danuta Gleed Literary Award, recognizing the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2019 in the English language. FRYING PLANTAIN also won the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction, was shortlisted for the 2020 Trillium Book Award and was longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize. FRYING PLANTAIN is currently nominated for the 2020 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award presented by the Ontario Library Association. Zalika is also the winner of the 2019 Byblacks People’s Choice Awards for Best Author.

FRYING PLANTAIN has been on numerous “must read” lists from Bustle, Refinery29, Chatelaine Magazine, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and more. It was also listed as one of Indigo’s 50 “Best Books of 2019”. Zalika was the June 2019 Writer in Residence for Open Book and she was listed in CBC’s “6 Canadian Writers to Watch in 2019”. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University, was the 2019 John Gardner Fiction Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and is an alumnus of the 2017 Banff Writers’ Studio. She is currently working on a young-adult fantasy novel drawing inspiration from Jamaican folklore.

Read more:

The Building Blocks by Zalika Reid-Benta in TOK Magazine

Rubble for Two by Zalika Reid-Benta in The Town Crier

Navigating Microaggressions as a Black Writer in CanLit and more by Zalika Reid-Benta, June Writer in Residence, for Open Book

Lonely Planet by Zalika Reid-Benta in Fashion Magazine


“Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut short story collection, Frying Plantain, is brilliant. Through Reid-Benta’s quiet but unflinching prose, we witness a Black girl’s journey into adulthood. Along the way, we meet characters that are by turns lovable and frustrating, stubborn and vulnerable. Reid-Benta writes her characters into existence with great assurance, skill, and tenderness. Frying Plantain is as accomplished as it is delightful..”

– DANUTA GLEED AWARD JURY – Lesley Choyce, Norma Dunning, and Djamila Ibrahim 


There is not a single false note or misstep in this debut novel […] Reid Benta’s writing is both relatable and illuminating, and that is a special kind of alchemy.”

MARISSA STAPLEY – author of The Last Resort, Things To Do When It’s Raining, and Mating For Life: A Novel


“Zalika Reid-Benta announces herself as an enormous voice for the coming decade (and one that is desperately needed). Not all must-read books are this enjoyable.”

GARY SHTEYNGART – author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success


“Sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, Flying Plantain is written in the indelible ink of memory. Zalika Reid-Benta is a masterful storyteller with a light touch, a photographic recall, and a pitch-perfect ear for the ephemera we’d like to think of as youthful, but just can’t seem to shake. This is an unforgettable debut.”

PAUL BEATTY – Booker Prize–winning author of The Sellout


“Each story in Frying Plantain is achingly poignant, insightful, and funny; each a gem unto itself. Ms. Reid-Benta’s fully sympathetic protagonist, Kara Davis, is a girl who belongs to neither Canada nor Jamaica, despite the fact that both places are ‘home.’ Her family — loving, flawed, and wickedly at odds with one another — all demand her loyalty, and her loyal friends aren’t friends at all. As a collection, these stunning stories create a multi-faceted jewel of a book.”

BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM  – author of The Scenic Route and Rabbits for Food


“Zalika Reid-Benta’s first book — by turns effortless, vivid, funny, sad, and genuinely like being there — is as shiny as they come. Her spot-on capture of youthful aspiration, folly, and how family members tend to understand one another only in fragments make these stories a real pleasure — full of recognition, humour, and keenly observed lives in the here and now. Frying Plantain, a window into the world of growing upward and onward inside and outside family ties, is an absolute gem.”

JANICE GALLOWAY,  author of Clara and All Made Up

Past Events

February 13, 2020

York University Creative Writing Series

Join Zalika from 1:30pm to 3:00pm at the Paul A. Delaney Gallery for a 25 minute reading followed by a Q&A. Light refreshments will be served and the event is free. Click here for more information!

February 19, 2020

Books and Beers: Pint-Sized Conversations

For a fourth successful season, Henderson Brewing Company will host a House of Anansi author each month to chat about their newest release. Zalika Reid-Benta will be speaking on February 19th. Click here for more information!

February 22, 2020

Blackstarline Book Club

Join Zalika Reid-Benta and the Blackstarline Book Club for a conversation about Frying Plantain.

February 25, 2020

DPCDSB Black Futures Symposium

Zalika Reid-Benta joins Eden Hagos and Lydia-Joi Marshall on a panel dedicated to sharing insights on the realities of anti-Black racism, Black identity and its intersections with education and politics. Other subjects include Black representation in media and other timely topics. Panelists will share their personal stories to examine the narrative of Black experiences in Canada and the wider world. Click here for more information!

February 27, 2020

Zalika Reid-Benta at the Newmarket Public Library

Join Zalika Reid-Benta for a reading and at a talk at the Newmarket Public Library. Click here for more information!

March 13-15, 2020

Growing Room Literary Festival

Fear in Fiction

Five celebrated novelists and short story writers discuss how to channel fear in fiction, sharing their secrets to transforming a protagonist’s rock-bottom moments into compelling stories. By employing inventive and sensitive worldbuilding techniques, Shani Mootoo, Mallory Tater, Zalika Reid-Benta, Rebecca Fisseha, and Rhea Tregebov explore how to make sense of the human condition through the written word and reveal how to take control of any given narrative. Moderated by Doretta Lau. Click here for more information!


Radiant Flesh: Black Femme Writing & The Body

Dr. Yvonne Shorter Brown, the renowned Caribbean scholar on diasporic African identities, slavery and memory, describes the black body as an archive: “It stores, imparts and remembers everything.” This panel brings together brilliant black writers of African descent, Maneo Mohale, Jillian Christmas, Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek, and Zalika Reid-Benta, who all engage with the black femme body in their work, while pushing the boundaries of how blackness, femininity, sexuality, and embodied memory are made legible in the written word.Click here for more information!


Dipping into Diaspora

In the long stretches between Home and “home” there are infinite stories, lessons, and longings. How many different people do we need to be? How many different languages must we carry in order to be understood? How many lands will we claim? How many will claim us, and what must be left behind? Join us for this panel with Rhea Tregebov, Rebecca Fisseha, Zalika Reid-Benta, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros and hosted by Afuwa. And pack light, the journey is unfolding. Click here for more information!

January 14, 2020

Heliconian Club Literary Lecture Series

october 27, 2019

Ottawa International Writers' Festival • Ottawa

FAMILY TIES with Zalika Reid-Benta, Carol Rose GoldenEagle and Michael Crummey. Hosted by CBC’s Alan Neal
For better or worse, what could be more central in our lives than family ties? Three of our country’s most acclaimed authors sit down with CBC’s Alan Neal for a taste of their new work and a conversation on how we are defined by familial relationships—especially in extreme situations.

october 24-26, 2019

Vancouver Writers' Festival • Vancouver

Zalika Reid-Benta will appear at three different events during the Vancouver Writers’ Festival. Join her for some readings and conversations!

september 28, 2019

Culture Days • Barrie Public Library

Join Zalika Reid-Benta at the Barrie Public Library, Downtown Location, as she does a presentation and Q&A about the themes and issues explored in FRYING PLANTAIN.

september 22, 2019

Word On The Street • Toronto

Join Zalika Reid-Benta and Derek Mascarenhas in a panel conversation at Word on the Street about their respective books on September 22, 2019 at 4pm.

september 17, 2019

Canadian Writers In Person • York University

“Canadian Writers in Person” is a public reading series to which is attached a first year course open to students in any discipline, and any year in their program. Zalika Reid-Benta will be one in eleven Canadian writers invited to visit York University to read from and discuss FRYING PLANTAIN with an audience of students and members of the general public.

september 8, 2019

Eden Mills Writers' Festival • Toronto

Check out a reading by Zalika Reid-Benta at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival in the Fall.

august 10, 2019

We So Lit Book Club • Toronto

Join Zalika Reid-Benta and the We So Lit Book Club at a meeting to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.

june 27, 2019

Maria A. Shchuka Library • Toronto

Zalika Reid-Benta appears in conversation with Olive Senior to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.

june 1, 2019

In Her Voice Festival • Toronto

Three authors, Zalika Reid-Benta, Téa Mutonji, and Nadja Lubiw-Hazard will be joined by moderator Samia Madwar for an hour-long panel, followed by an audience Q and A.

june 7, 2019

Book Launch • Toronto

You’re cordially invited to join Anansi Press and Diaspora Dialogues in celebrating the launch of Frying Plantain. This event will be held at CSI Annex, the Garage, 720 Bathurst Street at 6 pm on June 7th, 2019. 
Expect music, reading, fried plantain, a cash bar and FUN!  All welcome!

june 11, 2019

Annette Public Library • Toronto

Zalika Reid-Benta appears in conversation with Sarah Hagi to discuss her debut book Frying Plantain.

Zalika @ Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Reaction


Zalika @ Danuta Gleed Literary Award Announcement

Zalika @ Ottawa International Writers Festival


Zalika @ Appel Salon

Zalika @ CTV Your Morning

Zalika @ "Eh List" Series, Maria Shchuka Branch

Zalika @ "Frying Plantain" Book Launch

The crowd is enraptured as @Literati167 reads from #FryingPlantain
— The Puritan (@thepuritan) June 7, 2019

Zalika @ Kobo "In Conversation"

Zalika @ "In Her Voice Festival: First Fictions"

Zalika @ Banff Reading Series



Zalika Reid-Benta

Amy Tompkins at Transatlantic Literary Agency

Curtis Samuel at House of Anansi

Send a message to Zalika

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