Reviews for What We See in the Smoke


“With each story, we leap forward, and, with each leap forward, we have to relearn the rules of the narrative in much the same way that a time traveller would have to relearn the world. This makes for a unique and a uniquely compelling experience.”

Aaron Schneider for The Temz Review issue 9

“Although the same city in different time periods can be unrecognizable, Ben Berman Ghan’s Toronto in What We See in the Smoke has kept some street names and locations even as the physical place moved from Earth in 2016 to Janus in 3036.”

Catherine Lu for Augur Magazine

“Despite its unique motley demeanour, What We See ends up being a novel rich in motifs that the average Torontonian can recognize and understand. A mixture of the heinous and the righteous, and a spark of constant renewal that keeps it all in flux, Ben Ghan’s debut is a solid underscoring of the Torontonian ethos.”

Liam Bryant for The Varsity

“What We See in the Smoke is a beautifully written, dark novel that I recommend to every type of book lover. Sci-fi fans, dystopia dreamers, and Toronto lovers. It’s a brilliant, unique piece of fiction, and if you can handle some darkness, take a peek into what fate holds for dear old Toronto.”

Emma McQuiggan for The White Wall Review

“What we see in the smoke is not about what happened to Earth and why. It is about living with what is happening, war or no war, space station or planet. The protagonists in each of the stories do the best that they can with the situation they have been put in, whether it is to find their loved ones or save them.”

Kriti Khare for The Nerd Daily

“The sci-fi elements are both outlandish and believable. The tone is often dark and sometimes funny, and there’s always something at stake that hits at the heart.”

Matt M Cook at mwcook.com

“an interesting and unusual collection/novel, and one I can whole-heartedly recommend!”

Markus Thierstein for The ScifiFantasy Network

“Drawing on the many threats to human and planetary survival today, What We See In The Smoke careens through a future trajectory that’s both epic and intimate, cautionary and compelling. In increasingly cruel and desperate times, these characters learn that living depends ultimately on acts of love. Ghan’s book is as refreshingly tender as it is unflinching.”

Sharon English: Author of Zero Gravity and Uncomfortably Numb

“Ben Berman Ghan is that rarest of authors: he is a master storyteller who is undaunted by boundaries, sliding seamlessly between forms as he weaves beautifully crafted short stories into a startling apocalyptic novel. This book that shows us both the forest and the trees in one stunning expression of power. Literature, memory, prophecy, and a gift for narrative come together in this powerful symphony where the past, present, and future co-exist in an exquisite opus. What We See in the Smoke reveals what stories can and should do when they give the reader scope to see through so many glasses darkly in one perfect vision.”

Bruce Meyer: Author of The First Taste: New and Selected Poems

“Ghan’s mosaic of a Toronto – and a world – that was, is, and might one day be, is one of myriad apocalypses, big and small, personal and crushingly literal. This book, like Ghan’s writing, is tender, complex, and without reservation.”

Andrew Wilmot: author of The Death Scene Artist

“Benjamin Ghan writes with a glorious imagination and an outsized heart. In stories that are tender, melancholy, and outrageous by turns. He serves up feverish visions as though having looked into our futures and reached into our dreams.”

Robert McGill: author of Once We Had a Country

“It’s alright.”

Ben Berman Ghan: author of What We See in the Smoke