When Teva Harrison was 37, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. This terminal diagnosis changed Harrison’s life and her work. Trained as an artist, Harrison turned to narrative for the first time and began making comics and writing stories about living with her diagnosis, coping with the many problems, and imagining a path forward. Harrison’s first book, In-Between Days, is a collection of her comics and prose, many of which appeared in The Walrus. The book was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in Canada, the first comic to be a finalist for the prize in any category, and pieces which appear in the book have been nominated for The National Magazine Award and the Canadian Magazine Award.
In-Between Days is not a saccharine, overly sunny book that claims a positive attitude is the key to survival; rather, Harrison’s work is the embodiment of Antonio Gramsci’s oft-quoted statement, “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” Harrison’s book is dark but not despairing, and that’s because of her personality. She is making comics and writing stories, going on safari in Africa and taking part in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and climbing mountains. Harrison knows that cancer will kill her, but she is determined every day to not let it destroy her. The book is passionate and overwhelming and unsparing and joyous and unsentimental and beautiful and painful. It is human and humane, and it will stay with you. As Harrison put it, “Life is rich. It is absolutely an adventure, still.”