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How Your Heart Grows: Chosen Family in Diaspora & Queerness | Catherine Hernandez, Hari Alluri, Kimmortal

February 8, 2023 @ 12:00 am PST

On Sunday, March 19 at 6pm, join Massy Arts Society, Massy Books and The Lido for a magical night of togetherness in How Your Heart Grows. Celebrating chosen family in the diaspora, including our queer kin, this evening will feature award winning author of Scarborough and finalist for Canada Reads 2022, Catherine Hernandez, who will read from her new book The Story of Us.

A captivating narrative of sisterhood, community, hope and belonging, The Story of Us paints a tender portrait of the resilience of migrant women. In conversation with Hari Alluri, poet and author of Our Echo of Sudden Mercy, the two discuss ideas around diasporic identities, home and kinship. This remarkable event will also offer a musical opening by Kimmortal. We invite you for an evening to find the joy of finding love in unlikely places.

This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada. Ce projet a été rendu possible grâce au gouvernement du Canada.

Purchase at the event: 
The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez

Tickets for this event are $20. There are also tickets at $15 or $10 available for Indigenous, Black, queer, disabled and community members with intersections that typically exclude them from accessing literary events.


Venue & Accessibility
The event will be hosted at The Lido at 518 E Broadway in Vancouver. 

The space is wheelchair accessible and has gender-neutral washrooms on-site. Please refrain from wearing scents or heavy perfumes. 

Covid Protocols: Masks keep our community safe and are mandatory (N95 masks are recommended as they offer the best protection). We ask if you are showing symptoms, that you stay home. Thank you kindly.


Featuring Author

Catherine Hernandez (she/her) is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is a proud queer woman who is of Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Indian descent and married into the Navajo Nation. Her first novel, Scarborough, won the Jim Wong-Chu Award for the unpublished manuscript; was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards, the Evergreen Forest of Reading Award, the Edmund White Award, and the Trillium Book Award; and a finalist for Canada Reads 2022. She has written the critically acclaimed plays Singkil, The Femme Playlist and Eating with Lola and the children’s books M Is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book and I Promise. She recently wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Scarborough, produced by Compy Films and levelFILM. It was the 1st runner up for the coveted People’s Choice Award at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, won the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award, was nominated for 11 Canadian Screen Awards and won 8, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film won the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and was named #3 of the 20 Greatest Toronto Movies Ever Made by the Globe and Mail. She is the creator of Audible Original’s audio sketch comedy series Imminent Disaster. Her second novel, Crosshairs, published simultaneously in Canada and the US and the UK, was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Award and made the CBC’s Best Canadian Fiction, NOW Magazine’s 10 Best Books, Indigo Best Book, Audible Best Audiobooks and NBC 20 Best LGBTQ Books list of 2020. Her third children’s book, Where Do Your Feelings Live? which is a guide for kids living through these scary times, has been commissioned by HarperCollins Canada and will be published in winter 2022. Her third novel, The Story of Us, about the extraordinary friendship between a caregiver and her elderly client, will be published in winter 2023 by HarperCollins Canada. She is currently working on a few television projects and her fourth novel.


With Guest Reader

Hari Alluri (he/him/siya) is a migrant poet of Filipinx and South Indian descent on unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples and Kwantlen, Katzie, and Kwikwetlem lands of Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking peoples. Recipient of the Vera Manuel Award, he is author of The Flayed City (Kaya) and chapbooks The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel) and Our Echo of Sudden Mercy (Next Page Press), writer-director of Pasalubong (NFB/ONF), and co-editor of We Were Not Alone (Community Building Art Works). Siya has received grants, fellowships, and residencies from the BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, The Capilano Review, Deer Lake, and others. His work appears through these venues and elsewhere: Dream Marrow catalogue (exhibit—on now at Burnaby Art Gallery), Poetry, PRISM International, and—via Split This Rock—Best of the Net 2022.


Musical Performance by

Kimmortal is a queer non-binary filipinx artist and rapper known for their powerful stage presence and multi-dimensional approach to music. Based in Vancouver, BC, on the unceded Coast Salish territories, Kimmortal’s alt-rap/soul electronic album “X marks the Swirl” incorporates spoken word, rap and animation. The album was longlisted for the 2021 Polaris Prize, recognized as one of the “Top 19 albums of 2019” by CBC, and nominated in the 2020 “Hip Hop and Rap” category of Breakout West Music Awards. They have performed in SXSW, Junofest, Rifflandia, NXNE, and headlined the Winnipeg Pride Festival. Kimmortal’s newest projects are set to be released in 2022.


The Books

The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez

From the author of Canada Reads finalist Scarborough, a stunning new novel about the unbreakable bond of family and the magic that can happen when we meet in the middle

Like many Overseas Filipino Workers, Mary Grace Concepcion has lived a life of sacrifices. First, she left her husband, Ale, to be a caregiver in Hong Kong. Now, she has travelled even farther, to Canada, in the hopes of one day sponsoring Ale and having children of their own.

But when she arrives in Toronto, she must navigate a series of bewildering and careless employers and unruly children. Mary Grace seeks new employment as a Personal Support Worker and begins caring for Liz, an elderly patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, whose health is as fragile as her rundown bungalow beside the Rouge River in Scarborough. While Mary Grace’s time with her charge challenges her conservative beliefs, she soon becomes Liz’s biggest ally, and the friendship that grows between them will turn out to be just as legendary as Liz’s past.

Beautifully narrated by the all-seeing eye of Mary Grace’s newborn baby, The Story of Us is a novel about sisterhood, about blood and chosen family, and about how belonging can be found where we least expect it.

Our Echo Of Sudden Mercy by Hari Alluri

Our Echo of Sudden Mercy searches for the tenuous places where grief and joy entwine. At turns meditative, irreverent, and tender, the poems trace these threads through multiple forms of loss-personal and familial, cultural and planetary, quiet and violent-by encountering and moving through the everyday.

“We have always been the consequence of stories,” they intone. Here, attentive to the ode in downbeats of lament, Alluri finds a restorative poetry: that the incantatory in the fragmented can be heard as a form of wholeness, that displacement can become a way of being in the world, one which holds and is held by listening, by care and collaboration.


February 8, 2023
12:00 am PST