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Nancy Lee


Nancy Lee was born to parents of Chinese and Indian descent, in Cardiff, Wales. She immigrated to Canada with her mother at a young age. She taught in the Simon Fraser University Writing and Publishing Program and now is an assistant professor for fiction in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia. She is a graduate of the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at the UBC and also earned a B.A. in theatre and film from UBC. In the fall of 2003 she was the Canadian Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, UK.


The Age: A Novel

Toronto: Emblem Editions, 2014.
PS8573 .E34845 A64 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Set in Vancouver in 1984 as Soviet warships swarm the Atlantic, The Age tells the story of Gerry, a troubled teenager whose life is suddenly and strangely catapulted into adulthood.

The Age is at once a heartbreaking journey through adolescent recklessness and desire and a portrait of a generation shaped by nuclear anxiety. Bold, original, told with piercing observation, mordant wit, and the same fearlessness that earned Dead Girls international acclaim, its arrival confirms Nancy Lee as one of Canadian literature’s most thrilling and compelling voices.


Fiction (Short stories)

Dead Girls

Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2002.
Toronto: Emblem Editions, 2003.

Publisher’s Synopsis (Emblem Editions)

Infused with eroticism, poignancy, and insight that cuts to the bone, these stories lead us into a tipping world of emotional wagers, loss and discovery, power and impulse. A marriage is tested as a mother struggles to cope with the disappearance of her prostitute daughter. Two angry women in a minivan act out their frustrations as they rampage through the night. A pill-dependent nurse juggles neuroses, infatuation, and exhaustion while supervising a high school dance-a-thon. A quiet tattoo artist takes in a homeless woman, and stumbles upon the true nature of beauty, jealousy, and love. Written in taut, unflinching prose, these stories are edgy and dark, sharply observed and uniquely imagined.

Awards and Honours

2002 Now Magazine’s #1 Book of the Year
2002 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for first book of short fiction (Nominated)
2003 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize –BC Book Prize (Nominated)
2003 VanCity Book Prize for best book pertaining to women’s issues (Winner)


What Hurts Going Down

Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2020.
PS8573.E34845 W53 2020

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Nancy Lee’s searing collection of poems confronts how socially ingrained violence and sexual power dynamics distort and dislocate girlhood, womanhood, and relationships. Startling and visceral, the poems in What Hurts Going Down deconstruct a lifetime of survival, hover in the uneasy territory of pre- and post- #MeToo, and scrutinize the changing wagers of being female.


Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections

Z1039 .A87 R43 2006

Lee, Nancy. “Notes from Elsewhere.” In Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections. Danielle Schaub, photographer and ed. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006, 254-255.


Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Cox, Ailsa. “Vancouver Stories: Nancy Lee and Alice Munro.” In: The Postcolonial Short Story: Contemporary Essays, edited by Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 64-78.
Available in e-book format, Access restricted to the TMU community

Schwab, Dana. “Troublesome Bodies and Lonely Voices: The Embodied Woman in Contemporary Canadian Short Fiction in English.” M.A. diss., University of New Brunswick, 2009.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses