Lai, Larissa

Larissa Lai, poet, novelist, critic, educator (b at La Jolla, California, 1967). Though born on the west coast of the United States, Larissa Lai was raised in St. John's, Newfoundland and educated at the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (BA 1990), the University of East Anglia (MA 2001) and the UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY (PhD 2006). She became the Markin-Flanagan Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary (1997-98) shortly after the publication of her first novel When Fox is a Thousand (1995). The novel was shortlisted for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award, earned Lai an Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers Award in 1995, and was republished in a new edition in 2004. Lai became Writer-in-Residence at SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY in 2006 after the publication of her second novel Salt Fish Girl (2002), which was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award and the W.O. MITCHELL Award. In 2007 Lai began teaching literature at the University of British Columbia.

Lai is a prolific, multifaceted author who has been widely acclaimed for her work in fiction, poetry and criticism. Her novels explore Chinese and Chinese-Canadian experience in a prose style that is shaped by mythology, speculative fiction and attention to the impact of transglobal experience in the age of neoliberalism. These themes recur in her books of poetry, sybil unrest (2009, co-written with Rita Wong) and Automaton Biographies (2010), but the poetry extends her attention to the linguistic nature of subjectivity and the role language plays in shaping the consensual experience of reality. The first long poem in Automaton Biographies, called "Rachel," also develops her exploration of speculative or future fictions by entering into the realm of science fiction. "Rachel" revisits Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, retelling the narrative through the first-person experience of the cyborg Rachel. Automaton Biographies was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.