Mawenzi House has only recently gone by the name “Mawenzi House” – prior to a name change earlier in 2015, the press was known as TSAR Publications, and it has a long history that goes back to the early 1980s.
In 1981 a group of young people, who all had come from somewhere else prior to settling in Toronto, decided to start a literary magazine, which they called The Toronto South Asian Review (later this became the much broader-based The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad), in order to provide a space for a diverse range of writers to be heard.
As an offshoot of this literary magazine, in 1985 TSAR Publications was born, publishing its first title, a book of essays on South Asian Canadian literature, followed by a book of poetry by Sri Lankan Canadian Rienzi Crusz. For the next three decades TSAR was dedicated to bringing to the reading public fresh new writing from Canada and across the world that reflects the diversity of our rapidly globalizing world, particularly in Canada and the United States.
As of 2015 this focus, which can loosely be termed "multicultural" and particularly those that pertain to Asia and Africa, is continuing under the name “Mawenzi House”. "Mawenzi" is the name of the second peak of Kilimanjaro.
Publishing 6-8 titles of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction each year, Mawenzi House has been able to create a backlist of remarkable achievements.
Some notable titles in their backlist include Bodymap, the Lamda Award-winning collection of poetry from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; their publication of the bilingual edition (English and Innu-aimon) of Message Sticks, poetry by Josephine Bacon; and Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah, which was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction.