In House: Quattro Books

Founded in 2006, Toronto’s Quattro Books publishes works outstanding literary merit from both new and established authors. Since then, they’ve published around 50 books in the categories of fiction and poetry, and under their Fourfront imprint, non-fiction, children’s, art, photography, and reference titles.

The four founding partners of Quattro Books were the organizers of a very successful monthly reading series, Toronto WordStage, which featured both emerging and established writers from a variety of genres performing their work. Two of the founders had prior experience in publishing, and all were published authors. They came up with the idea of starting a press when they realized they had a different vision, collectively, from what they saw coming out from other Canadian literary presses. In particular, they recognized that the novella was an important but neglected genre which could become their unique specialty, and published their first book and novella, Room Tone, in 2007.

In fact, Quattro touts themselves as the “home of the Canadian Novella”, and with good reason: they place special emphasis on the form. Quattro is a pioneer with this genre, encouraging the writing of short novels that break away from traditional fiction and explore new formal and thematic territory. They also ran the annual Ken Klonsky Novella Contest until 2014, that saw the two best submitted manuscripts selected for publication by the press. The contest has kickstarted the careers of excellent writers like Binnie Brennan and Terri Favro, among others.

Their award-winning poetry program is also deserving of the spotlight: Quattro’s efforts to seek adventurous writing that departs from conventional realism has been rewarded with wins and/or nominations from the Griffin Poetry Prize (most recently for The Hundred Lives by Russell Thornton), the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Dorothy Livesay Award,  the Canadian Jewish Book Awards, and the ReLit Awards.

Quattro continues to use the “falling Q” logo designed by Julie McNeill at the inception of the press. While they’ve moved away from the distinctive solid-colour border along the top and left side of their front covers, Quattro books are still marked by a strong sense of design identity.

As a Toronto publisher, launches in Quattro’s home city are popular and lively, often attracting large audiences. With the press’ support and encouragement, Quattro authors to read their work frequently at the many reading series in this city, and regularly appear on the CIUT Howl radio program. Quattro partners and authors have often given talks and courses (e.g., on the novella), sat on panels, and visited writers' groups and book clubs. 

Whether you’re looking for award-winning poetry, experimental novella, or just a great read, pick up a Quattro book.