Dance of the Banished cover

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Dance of the Banished

Winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People

Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?

Available In

Paperback / softback

Ages 12-15
ISBN: 978-1-927485-65-1
List Price: $15.95 CAD / $15.95 USD
Paperback / softback with trade paperback (us) & with flaps
Trim Size: 5.60 x 8.00 inches / 14.224 x 20.32cm
Pages: 240

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Orca Book Publishers

Carton Quantity: 40

Not yet available

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2015 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People (Winner) (Canada)
  • 2015 White Ravens Selection (Commended)
  • 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection (Winner) (United States)
  • 2015 Best Books for Kids & Teens selection (Winner) (Canada)
  • 2016 USBBY Outstanding International Book selection (Winner) (United States)



About Dance of the Banished

2015 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People Winner

2015 White Ravens selection

2015 Junior Library Guild selection

2015 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens selection

2016 USBBY Outstanding International Books List selection

“[A]n absorbing glimpse into a dark period in world history and the human consequences of war.”—VOYA

“[T]he setting is fascinating, the research is thorough, and the story is made all the more interesting due to current events in the region.”—School Library Journal

“An eye-opening exposé of historical outrages committed in two countries, with intriguing glimpses of a minority group that is not well-known in the Americas.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The author’s somber rendering of WWI atrocities against Armenians is reminiscent of fellow Canadian author Deborah Ellis’ caring attention to modern-day Afghan refugees and Middle Eastern youth living in conflict. There are many lessons for young readers in this story of hope and fear, love and determination, and the universal significance of bearing witness.”—Booklist

“[A] worthwhile acquisition for middle and high school library collections; it will complement other works focusing on the story of young people affected by war-time, including The Diary of Anne Frank…Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“[V]ividly portrayed….a timely contribution to both Canadian and global First World War history.”—Quill & Quire

“This latest work is an outstanding testament to Skrypuch’s mastery as a writer of historical fiction for young readers…She has put a profoundly human face on the horrors of war while also creating an insightful portrait of the Alevi Kurds…Skrypuch skillfully captures their voices, their longing, their heartbreak and their courage.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“Skrypuch’s compelling characters give an authentic voice to this well researched story. It is definitely a book for adults as well as teens.”—National Reading Campaign

“It’s a love story filled with tragedy when Ali is forced into a Canadian internment camp, and Zeynep faces horrors as the Ottoman Army marches through her villages. This moving book will enlighten and appeal to readers ages 12 to adult.”—The Calgary Herald

“the historical details that make this story interesting cannot be overlooked.”—Resource Links

“An eye-opening, significant literary and historical gift to readers, young and old.”—Smithsonian BookDragon

“A dynamic and compelling story with likeable and realistic characters, this fictionalized narrative about how war often makes no distinctions between cultural groups will appeal to middle and secondary readers interested in history, romance, and how political movements on an international scale often wreak havoc at the local and individual levels.”—Worlds of Words


Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

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