Hien The Chu was born in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City). He escaped from Vietnam on a fishing boat in 1988 and eventually found sanctuary in the Philippines. Chu emigrated to Canada in 1990, spent a year working as a translator at a camp for displaced people in the Philippines, then returned to Canada in 1992. Chu is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he earned a B.A. At the time of publication of his first collection of short stories, he was living in Mississauga, Ont. and working on a Graduate degree.