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Lien Chao

Poet, anthologist and critic, Lien Chao was born in China and came to Canada in 1984 to study Canadian literature. She eventually completed both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at York University. Her Ph.D. dissertation is an examination of Chinese-Canadian literature and it formed the basis for her book of literary criticism Beyond Silence. Chao continues to live in Toronto.


Maples and the Stream: A Narrative Poem

Toronto: TSAR, 1997.

Publisher’s Synopsis

This long narrative poem in English and Chinese follows one woman’s journey from China to Canada over four decades. In these pages the two languages sit side by side, mirroring each other, each telling a tale that alternates between confusion and despair and hopes and dreams. Lien Chao depicts the struggle of a generation in its persistent search for freedom and for free artistic expression.


More Than Skin Deep Poem

Bilingual edition: Chinese and English.
Toronto: TSAR, 2004.

Publisher’s Synopsis

In these poems, created in both English and Chinese, Lien Chao evokes the lives of Asian Canadians in all their diversity and depth, as she reflects on the issues of identity, assimilation and language.
These issues occur in the very act of confronting the two very different languages—Chinese and English—with each other, so that that confrontation itself becomes a metaphor for adaptation and conflict of cultures in Canada.


Salt in My Life

Toronto: Mawenzi House, 2020.

Publisher’s Synopsis

In her latest collection of poetry, Lien Chao covers a wider terrain of forms and styles to include symphonic lyrics, reflective travelogues, and multimedia-poetic stage performance. Sound and vision blend across the collection with a sense of textual fluidity, connecting her physical and emotional journeys as she strives for inner peace.

Fiction (Short stories)

The Chinese Knot: And Other Stories

Toronto: TSAR, 2008.
PS8555 .H3955 C44 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis

In Chinatown and mixed neighbourhoods, in condos and tenements, in public parks and in college, the protagonists of these stories find love, face loneliness, confront family crises, and overcome racism as they evolve and grow in this exciting, ever-changing multicultural society.

Non-fiction (Memoir)

Tiger Girl = Hu Nü: A Creative Memoir

Toronto: TSAR, 2001.
HQ1767 .C435 2001

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

A gripping creative memoir of growing up in Mao’s China in the latter part of the twentieth century.


Beyond Silence: Chinese Canadian Literature in English

Toronto: TSAR, 1997.
PS8089.5 .C47 C52 1997

Publisher’s Synopsis

This study of the literary output in English by Chinese Canadians begins with the 130-year history of the community in Canada to consider first how institutional racism and neglect contributed to its collective silence in mainstream media, history, and mythology; since the 1970s a fully developed Chinese literary consciousness and historical awareness have emerged in the country.

Awards and Honours

1997 Gabrielle Roy Prize for criticism (Winner)


Publisher Mawenzi House (formerly TSAR publications)

Chao entry on the Writers’ Union of Canada website