I’m a writer and journalist based in Toronto. My second book, On Opium: Pain, Pleasure, and Matters of Substance, will be published by Goose Lane Editions in September, 2021. It’s a look at opioids, pain, the nature of dependence, and what we all need to be well. You can pre-order it here. On Opium expands on its novella-length predecessor, Opium Eater: The New Confessions, a brief meditation on opioid painkillers & pain that was a Globe 100 Best Book of 2016. It was also shortlisted for the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada book award.
“In her Confessions – a 21st-century update on De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) – Zwarenstein achieves that rare thing: a dispassionate account informed by deeply personal experience. Readers will benefit from this measured look at the causes of our increased dependence, which doubles as a critical memoir on the relationship between opioids, creativity, and pain.”
Opium Eater is taught on graduate and undergraduate university courses in both English literature and addiction studies. Find out more about teaching Opium Eater.
I live in Toronto, spend time in Mexico City, and write about a lot of different things, both in books and as a long-time independent journalist.
Right now I am working on my first novel, and on a book of essays about travels in the world and in the mind. Current journalism and essay projects touch on subjects as diverse as kindness, visual arts, harm reduction, evidence in medicine & climate science, and literature.
Member, Writers’ Union of Canada and IWW Freelance Journalists Union.