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Evelyn Lau


Evelyn Lau crashed into the spotlight at the age of eighteen with the publication in 1989 of her first book, Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid, an autobiographical work that illuminated the world of teenage prostitution and drug abuse in Vancouver. This was made into the CBC-TV film The Diary of Evelyn Lau. Lau’s poetry, and prose have appeared in many literary journals. A native of Vancouver, Lau continues to make that city her home.



Inside Out: Reflections on a Life So Far

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2001.
Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2002.
PS8573 .A7815 Z53 2002

Publisher’s Synopsis (Doubleday)

Moving seamlessly through past and present, Lau describes how her complex, painful relationship with her parents has shaped her adult desires, thwarting her efforts to connect with both men and women. She recalls her dangerous battle with bulimia and examines her continued struggle against crippling depression. …
Above all, Lau considers her life as a writer, …. She reveals the supreme importance she has come to place on her writing and explains her controversial willingness to breach the boundaries between public and private in the name of art.


Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid

Toronto: Harper & Collins, 1989.
HQ799 .C22 V36 1989

Publisher’s Synopsis

Runaway … is based on the journal Evelyn wrote during her two years on the street. In her diary she explores the physical and emotional struggles of a young girl coping in a world she has never known – a world of drugs, prostitution, mental anguish and attempted suicide.

A Grain of Rice book cover


A Grain of Rice

Fernie, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 2012.
PS8573 .A7815 G73 2012

Publisher’s Synopsis

Many of the poems in A Grain of Rice, [Lau’s] sixth book of poetry, are haunted by the deaths of friends and family. They explore cultural history, stories in the news, travel and place — especially the relationship between home and our nomadic inclinations. In many respects the book is a meditation on loss. Grief and aging, family history, an attention to place. poems on local urban social issues; poems that seek and find their inspiration in Asian culture and literature — all form a tapestry of faces that simultaneously defy and embrace the inevitable and celebrate the transformational.

Awards and Honours

2013 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize–BC Book Prizes (Finalist)

In the House of Slaves book cover


In the House of Slaves

Toronto: Coach House Press, 1994.
Toronto: Gutter Press, 1999.
PS8573 .A7815 I5 1999

Publisher’s Synopsis (from Gutter Press website)

Packed with vivid and visceral images, pushing the power of language, Evelyn Lau acts as our guide into a bleak world of sex and power, pain and pleasure. Bold and audacious, Lau continues to explore the terrain of her previous collection, Oedipal Dreams, but dares to go further, into the world of bondage and torture. Lau presents terrifying yet romantic acts of love with brutal honesty.



Living Under Plastic

Fernie, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 2010.
PS8573 .A7815 L59 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis

Living Under Plastic represents a major departure from the author’s previous poetry books. Instead of the obsessive focus on relationships and emotional damage that has characterized much of her earlier work, this book opens up to explore new subjects: family history, illness, death and dying, consumerism, and the natural world. In a tone that is often elegiac, without ever being maudlin, these poems are steeped in immortality and loss. Haunted by the pull of the past, there is strength of character and a sense of affirmation in all of these poems. While grounded in travel and in place, the tone is surprisingly meditative and contemplative.

Oedipal Dreams book cover


Oedipal Dreams

Victoria, B.C.: Beach Holme,1992.
2nd. ed. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1994.
Toronto: Gutter Press, 1999.
PS8573 .A7815 O3 1999

Awards and Honours

1992 Governor General’s Literary Award– English Poetry (Nominated)


Pineapple Express

Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2020.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Pineapple Express is rooted in the mind and its disorders. This collection explores moods, medications and side effects, capturing the flatness of depression while still making the language sing. It also probes the landscape of mid-life in all its manifestations: physical changes, psychological upheaval, the notion of becoming “invisible,” aging and loss, mortality, and the haunting of family and cultural history.




Vancouver, B.C.: Polestar Book Publishers, 2005.
PS8573 .A7815 T74 2005

Publisher’s Synopsis (From Raincoast Books website)

Treble is everything we expect of Lau: it is precise, elegant, honest and powerful. It is also Lau’s most mature work of poetry by far, exploring relationships between men and women with depth, empathy and a sensitive precision that is breathtaking and new.



Fernie, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 2016.
PS8573 .A7815 T86 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In Tumour, her latest collection of poems, Evelyn Lau writes on the edge between her present daily life, filled with its delicious and disturbing ironies, and her remembrance of a past both celebrated and blemished by misunderstanding and cultural collisions.

There is boldness in these poems as Lau confronts the inevitable changes that accompany a renewed reverence for and understanding of her own mortality. The title poem, written for a dying aunt, is exquisite, for its tenderness, dignity and sense of vulnerability. In a language rich, textured, and often subversive, but never sentimental, Lau has created poems of astonishing diversity and of great transient beauty.



You Are Not Who You Claim

Victoria, B.C.: Porcépic Books, 1990.
PS8573 .A7815 Y69 1990

Publisher’s Synopsis

… Strong, intimate, disturbing and finally poignant, Evelyn Lau’s poems are really about people, trapped and hurting behind their many masks of conformity.

Awards and Honours

1990 Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award (Winner)


Fiction (Short stories)

Choose Me: Stories

Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1999.
[Toronto]: Vintage Canada, 2000.
PS8573 .A7815 C46 2000

Publisher’s Synopsis (Vintage Canada)

In this critically acclaimed, bestselling collection, Evelyn Lau delves into the complexities of human relationships, exploring the ambiguous motives that propel her characters into emotional and sexual entanglements. With prose remarkable for its resonance, its beauty, and its candour, Lau tells tales of women who long to be chosen by the men they can’t have–men whose allure fades the more available they become.


Fiction (Short stories)

Fresh Girls & Other Stories

Toronto: HarperCollins, 1993.
PS8573 .A7815 F74 1993

Publisher’s Synopsis

Fresh Girls & Other Stories takes us to the dark side of Eros – where pleasure becomes pain and pain becomes addictive. In each of these beautiful but disturbing pieces, Evelyn Lau tells the stories of young women searching for a place where sex, obsession and love can meet.



Other Women

Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1995.
Toronto: Vintage, 1996.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
PS8573 .A7815 O75 1996


Desire in Seven Voices

PS8367 .D47 D47 2003

Lau, Evelyn. “Father Figures.” In Desire in Seven Voices , edited by Lorna Crozier. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1999, 43-61.



Henry Chow and Other Stories

Edited by R. David Stephens, from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop.
Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2009.
PS8329.1 .H44 2009

Lau, Evelyn. “Working the Corner.” In Henry Chow and Other Stories, edited by R. David Stephens, from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop. Vancouver: Tradewind Books, 2009, 27-33.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Chang, Elaine Kyung.  “Women’s Places: The Proprietary Politics of Cultural Space.”  Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1994.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Chao, Lien. “Dialogue: A Discursive Strategy in Chinese Canadian Poetry.” Chap. in her Beyond Silence: Chinese Canadian Literature in English. Toronto: TSAR, 1997, 122-155.
PS8089.5 .C47 C52 1997

Chao, Lien.  “From Testimony to Erotica: The Split Subject and Oedipal Drama in Evelyn Lau’s Prose.” Chap. in her Beyond Silence: Chinese Canadian Literature in English.  Toronto: TSAR, 1997, 156-184.
PS8089.5 .C47 C52 1997

Dean, Amber Richelle.  “A Melancholic Musing: Women’s Narratives on Depression.”  M.A. diss., Simon Fraser University, 2003.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Fu, Bennett Yu-Hsiang. “Differing Bodies, Defying Subjects, Deferring Texts: Gender, Sexuality, and Transgression in Chinese Canadian Women’s Writing.” Ph.D. diss., Université de Montréal, 2004.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Gunew, Sneja.  “Operatic Karaoke and the Pitfalls of Identity Politics.” In Literary Pluralities, ed. Christl Verduyn.  Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 1998, 254-262.
PS8027 .L57 1998

Huot, Nikolas. “Evelyn Lau.” In Asian American Poets: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, ed. Guiyou Huang. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002, [195]-200.
PS153 .A84 A826 2002

Lo, Meng Yu Marie. “Fields of Recognition: Reading Asian Canadian Literature in Asian America.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2001.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Morris, Robyn. “Consumption, Commodification and Choice in Writing by Lillian Ng and Evelyn Lau.” In Canadian Studies Today: Responses from the Asia-Pacific, ed. by Stewart Gill, R.K. Dhawan. Delhi: Prestige, 2009, [138]-151.
FC155 .P36 2007

Morris, Robyn. “Looking Through the Twin Lens of Race and Gender: A New Politics of Surveillance in Asian Australian and Asian Canadian Women’s Writing.” Ph.D. diss., University of Wollongong, 2008.
Available as an open access dissertation from The University of Wollongong.

Ninh, erin Khue.  “Ingratitude: A Cultural Theory of Power in Asian American Women’s Literature.”  Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Snowden, Kim Louise.  “Negotiating the Spaces of Adultery: Domesticity and the Feminist Adultery Narrative.”  Ph.D. diss., The University of British Columbia, 2007.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Thongthiraj, Dootsdeemalachanok.  “Words and Acts of Rage: Resisting the Sex Industry in Asian-American Literature and Film.”  Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2002.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Wong, Rita. “Market Forces and Powerful Desires: Reading Evelyn Lau’s Cultural Labor.” In Culture, Identity, Commodity: Diasporic Chinese Literatures in English, ed.  Tseen Khoo and Kam Louie.  Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005, [39]-58.
PS153 .C45 C85 2005


Interview with Linda Richards of January Magazine

Publisher Anvil Press

Publisher Gutter Press

Publisher Oolichan Books

Publisher Random House of Canada