Joseph Kertes was born in Hungary but escaped with his family to Canada after the revolution of 1956. He studied English at York University and the University of Toronto, where he was encouraged in his writing by Irving Layton and Marshall McLuhan.
Kertes founded Humber College's distinguished creative writing and comedy programs. He was for many years Humber's Dean of Creative and Performing Arts and was a recipient of numerous awards for teaching and innovation. His first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Boardwalk, his second novel, and two children's books, The Gift and The Red Corduroy Shirt, met with critical acclaim.
His novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian National Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. Kertes has also been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the CBC Literary Award. His latest novel, The Afterlife of Stars, has been described by Anne Michaels as “unforgettable and deeply moving,” and by Miriam Toews as a “masterpiece.”
He has been named the recipient of the 2017 Harbourfront Festival Prize for his contribution to literature and to the literary community.