Oakland Ross

Oakland Ross

Oakland Ross, Author and Former Middle East Correspondent for the Toronto Star


The Arab Spring Turns to Fall

Thursday November 3rd, 1:00-3:00 pm

Join author and journalist Oakland Ross for a firsthand exploration of a region in tumult: the sudden uprising in North Africa and the Middle East now known as the Arab Awakening. Oakland will provide a compelling portrait of countries where long-oppressed peoples are suddenly rediscovering themselves, while striving to construct a new and more equitable future.


Suddenly, the Arab world is changing. This past January, a revolution broke out in Tunisia almost without warning and soon spread across North Africa and the Middle East.

The turmoil is not over yet, and already dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya have fallen, while authoritarian regimes in other Arab countries desperately manoeuvre to stay in power — in Bahrain, Syria, and Jordan. These seismic changes have produced extraordinary images, including jarring scenes of former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, now bed-ridden and on trial for his life. In many countries of the region, the forces of democracy are already finding that the ouster of a tyrant — difficult though that is — is perhaps the easy part of popular revolution. The hard part comes next, the challenge of figuring out how to build a new ruling system that is different from, and better than, the old. The future of the region remains an open book, not least in Israel where almost all the old security assumptions have had to be revised and revised again, in a part of the world that seems to be reinventing itself almost day by day.


Oakland Ross is the author of three books, including:

  • Guerrilla Beach (Cormorant Books), a collection of short stories set in Latin America that was short-listed for the 1995 Trillium Award for the best book published that year in the Canadian province of Ontario;
  • A Fire on the Mountains (Alfred A. Knopf Canada), a memoir of travel in Latin America and Africa;
  • The Dark Virgin (HarperCollins Canada), a novel set in Mexico and also published in translation in Spain (Grijalbo) and Italy (Edizione Piemme).

Based in Mexico City, Ross was for many years the correspondent in Latin America for The Globe and Mail. Later, he was the Globe’s correspondent in Africa, based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In 2000, he joined the Toronto Star as a feature writer and, in 2006, he was posted to Jerusalem as the Star’s Middle East correspondent. He traveled widely through the region — to Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the UAE, among other countries — before returning to Canada in 2009. He is once again a feature writer for the Star, specializing in foreign affairs.

Ross has won several Canadian awards, including two National Newspaper Awards (he has been short-listed for this award seven times), a National Magazine Award for fiction, and the Roland Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.