A-R International: Ranjini George

Ranjini George
Authors-Readers International

Ranjini George holds a PhD in English Literature from Northern Illinois University, USA, an MA in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, Canada. More recently, she won the first place in Canada’s inaugural Coffee Shop Author Contest for her travel memoir, a work-in-progress, Miracle of Flowers. She was a Georges and Anne Bochardt Fiction Scholar at the Sewannee Writers’ Conference and a recipient of the Arnold B. Fox Award in Research Writing.

She was an Associate Professor of English at Zayed University, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. She currently teaches in the Creative Writing Program, SCS, University of Toronto; among other classes on mindfulness and writing, she teaches a Meditation and Writing Intensive at their Summer Writing School (St. George Campus) and No Mud, No Lotus: Writing and Breathing Your Way to Transformation and Healing (Mississauga Campus). In 2019 she won the Excellence in Teaching Award at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto. (Here’s the link to the university’s announcement about the award.)

A Shambhala Guide Meditation Instructor, she has studied with teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Lama Tsultrim, Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Pema Chodron, Hari Nam Singh Khalsa and Lama Pema Dorje. Raised in the Christian wisdom tradition, she draws from Sufism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Stoicism, Mystic Christianity, and Buddhism in her writing and teachings.

She ran the Teaching with the Mind of Mindfulness series at Zayed University; she was the founder and editor of Studies in TESOL and Literature and The Arabia Review and the founder and Chair of the Literature Special Interest Group of TESOL Arabia. She has published literary criticism, stories, poetry and nonfiction in journals such as AGNI, The Ontario Review, WRITE, The Victorian Newsletter, Hamlet Studies and A Room of One’s Own. Her book, Through My Mother’s Window: Emirati Women Tell their Stories and Recipes, was published in December 2016.


Ranjini George was the first-place winner in the inaugural Coffee Shop Author Contest I created in 2010 when I was promoting authors and living in Calgary. This was an idea that came to me while I was spending a great deal of time in a particular coffee shop in Toronto writing my own novel. I had looked around the shop and noticed there were many others just like me, sitting alone and either writing on a pad of paper with a pen, as I was doing, or tapping away on their computers. And I wondered how many of them were writing creatively, penning the next great novel or non-fiction, and wouldn’t it be great to find a way to encourage writers to write in public so readers could actually see them working at their writing … So, with the help of Randal Macnair of Oolichan Books, we set up the contest and ran it nationally. Ranjini George entered with a travel memoir, Miracle of Flowers, and that submission was so exquisitely written that she was the favourite of the judges to win, hands-down! As first-prize winner, Ranjini was flown from Toronto out to Fernie, BC, for the Fernie Writers’ Conference, and was enrolled in Stephen Heighton’s classes for the duration of the conference. Since that time, Ranjini and I have met several times in person, the most recent being Oct. 2018, when we got together, along with her husband, author Lee Gowan, at the original shop in Toronto where the seeds of The Coffee Shop Author Contest were sown, The Remarkable Bean in my old childhood ‘hood – The Beach in Toronto!

Another author friend, Amy MacDonald, wrote an article in The Missisauga News about Ranjini winning the Coffee Shop Author Contest. And I previously promoted Cristy Watson in this A-RI series. Cristy won Honorable Mention in the same first year of this contest. Here’s a complete list of the winners in 2010: Coffee Shop Author – The Winners! Leslie Scrivener also wrote an excellent article that was published in the Toronto Star in June, 2010, titled “Got writer’s block? Try your local coffee shop.”

All this reminiscing lately about Coffee Shop Author and the great authors I’ve met has got me thinking about bringing back the contest … All I need is a sponsor and a few helping hands. WATCH THIS SPACE!


Through My Mother’s Window: Emirati Women Tell Their Stories and Recipes
Through My Mother’s Window: Emirati Women Tell their Stories and Recipes celebrates the voices of Emirati women and retells the stories of their mothers and grandmothers. Through narratives, photographs and recipes, this book offers a poignant, celebratory and wistful window into the landscape and culture of the Emirates–its past and its present, its food, weddings and important festivals. Through My Mother’s Window showcases the beautiful and vibrant city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Through My Mother’s Window takes readers into the heart of Emirati culture through its most essential ingredient — food. I savoured stories about mom’s cooking and memories of family traditions and cultural celebrations that nearly always revolve around food. Delightfully, this book opens a culture to us through relatively easy and accessible recipes that range from everyday to fancy feast. ~ Margaret Webb, author of Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms

Here’s the link to a podcast of an interview with Ranjini George about “Mindfulness, meditation, creative writing and the art of coming home …”

For more information about Ranjini George, her writing and teaching, the UofT Workshops, and Tara Mandala Retreats, please see her website.

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