Unsupported Browser

Your Browser is out of date and is not supported by this website.
Please upgrade to Firefox, Chrome, or Microsoft Edge.

The Founding College of the University of Toronto
A picture of Larissa Lai smiling. She is wearing specs with red frames and a floral patterned shirt.

Larissa Lai

Canadian Studies
Richard Charles Lee Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies; Professor, Canadian Studies & Department of English
UC F305
Campus: St. George

Larissa Lai is the author of nine books, most recently a novel about two very different sisters in 1940s Hong Kong entitled The Lost Century. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Larissa was involved in the organizing of numerous events including Yellow Peril: Reconsidered and Writing Thru Race. Recipient of the Jim Duggins Novelist's Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the Astraea Award, and the Otherwise Honor Book, and finalist for seven more, she was recently a Maria Zambrano Fellow at the University of Huelva in Spain, and Canada Research Chair at the University of Calgary where she directed The Insurgent Architects' House for Creative Writing. She is currently Professor jointly appointed to the English Department and University College at University of Toronto, and serves as Richard Charles Lee Chair of Chinese Canadian Studies.

  • BA (Sociology), University of British Columbia
  • MA (Creative Writing), University of East Anglia
  • PhD (English), University of Calgary

Asian Canadian Studies, Asian Canadian Literature, Canadian Literature, Indigenous Literature, Poetics and Politics of Relation, Creative Writing (Fiction & Poetry), Speculative Fiction, Queer Theory, Canadian Contemporary Art and Art Practice


  • The Lost Century. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2022.
    • Audiobook: Orange Sky, 2022.
  • Iron Goddess of Mercy. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, March 2021.
  • The Tiger Flu. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, November 2018.
    • Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction; Otherwise (formerly Tiptree) Honor Book; Shortlisted for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award; Longlisted for the Sunburst Award; An io9 best book of the year; An Advocate best of the year; Audiobook: ECW Press, 2020, French translation: Le Quartanier Éditeur in 2023 (forthcoming).
  • Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s. Waterloo: TransCanada Series, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014.
    • Finalist for the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism.
  • Sybil Unrest. (New edition, co-authored with Rita Wong.) Vancouver: New Star, 2013.
  • Automaton Biographies. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2009.
    • Shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.
  • Eggs in the Basement. Vancouver: Nomados, 2009.
    • Shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award.
  • Sybil Unrest. (Co-authored with Rita Wong.) Vancouver: Line Books, 2009.
  • When Fox Is a Thousand. (With new afterword.) Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2004.
  • Salt Fish Girl. Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2002.
    • Otherwise (formerly Tiptree) Honor Book; Shortlisted for the Sunburst Award; Shortlisted for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award; French translation: Le Fruit de la Puanteur, Editions Triptyque 2021; Shortlisted for a Governor General's Award.
  • When Fox Is a Thousand. Vancouver: Press Gang, 1995.
    • Winner of an Astraea Foundation Emerging Writers' Award; Shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award.

Edited Books

  • Land/ Relations: Possibilities for Justice in Canadian Literatures. Eds. Smaro Kamboureli and Larissa Lai. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2022.
  • Tracing the Lines: Reflections on Contemporary Poetics and Cultural Politics in Honour of Roy Miki. Eds. Maia Joseph, Christine Kim, Christopher Lee and Larissa Lai. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2013.

Book Chapters

  • "Bone to Bone, Spirit to Spirit: Sovereign Matriarchy, Asian/Indigenous Relations, and the Work of Directed Remembering." Ideology in Postcolonial Texts and Contexts. Eds. Katja Sarkowsky and Mark U. Stein. Leiden: Brill Rodopi, 2021. 223-258.
  • "Insurgent Utopias: How to Recognize the Knock at the Door." Exploring the Fantastic: Genre, Ideology and Popular Culture. Eds, Ina Batzke, Eric C. Erdbacher, Linda M. Hess, and Corinna Lenhardt. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2018. 91-116.
  • "Saturate, Dissolve: Water for Itself, Unsettler Responsibilities, and Radical Humility." Downstream: Reimagining Water. Waterloo: WLUP, 2017. 259-270.
  • "Ghost Biologies: Sovereignty, Diaspora and the Geopolitics of Exception." Lire le corps biomédical. Regard sur la littérature canadienne/ Reading the Biomedical Body. From the Perspective of Canadian Literature. PULIM: Limoges. "Espaces Humains". 2016.
  • “Epistemologies of Respect, or A Politics and Poetics of Asian/Indigenous Relation.” TransCanada 3. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli. Waterloo: WLUP, May 2014. 99-126.
  • “The Time Has Come: Self and Community Articulations in Colour. An Issue and Awakening Thunder.” Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli. Waterloo: WLUP, 2012. 151- 172.
  • “Strategizing the Body of History: Anxious Writing, Absent Subjects, and Marketing the Nation.” Asian Canadian Writing Beyond Autoethnography. Eds. Eleanor Ty and Chrystl Verdun. Waterloo: WLUP, 2008. 87-114.
  • “Butterfly Prostheses and the Reproductive Mouth: Chains of Association and the Problem of Asian Masculinity in David Khang’s Mediamorphosis.” How to Feed A Piano: David Khang, Exhibition Catalogue. Vancouver, Centre A, 2008.
  • Foreword. Accidental Occidental. By David McKirdy. Hong Kong: Chameleon Press, 2005.
  • “Political Animals and the Body of History.” The Broadview Anthology of Expository Prose. Eds. Tammy Roberts et al. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002. 587-596.
  • Foreword. Other Conundrums. By Monika Kin Gagnon. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2000. 15-20.
  • “The Sixth Sensory Organ.” Bringing It Home: Women Talk About Feminism in Their Lives. Vancouver, Arsenal Pulp Press, 1996. 199-218.
  • “The Site of Memory.” Video re/View: The (best) Source Book on Canadian Artists’ Video. Eds. Peggy Gale and Lisa Steele. Toronto: Vtape, 1996. 344-350.
  • “Chinese Boxes.” [interruption]. Vancouver: Or Gallery, 1992. 16-34.

Journal Articles

  • "Sovereignty, the Body and Relation: The Limits and Possibilities of Canadian Literature in 2020." Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien 41 (2021): 186-192.

  • "Familiarizing Grist Village: Why I Write Speculative Fiction." Canadian Literature 240 (2020): 20-39, 178.

  • "Life/Fiction: Speculative Fiction and Environmental Emergence." ("Reflections on the Arts, Environment and Culture After Ten Years of The Goose"). The Goose. 14.2 (2015), Art. 41: 30-33.

  • "Asian Exceptions, Racial Illegibility, Relational Spaces: A Dialogue on Asian Canadian, Asian American, and US Southern Studies." The Global South 9.1 (2015-2016): 9-38. (co-authored with five others.)

  • "Other Democracies: Writing Thru Race at the 20 Year Crossroad." Write Magazine 42.2 (2014): 15-19.

  • "How to Do 'You': Methods of Asian/Indigenous Relation". Imagined Communities, Recuperated Homelands. Spec. Issue of RANAM: Recherches Anglaises et Nord Américaines. 46 (2013): 11-27.

  • "Reciprocal Being: Living, Thinking and Writing in Social Space." Poetry Is Dead. 2.2 (2011): 6-8.

  • “Neither Hand, Nor Foot, Nor Kidney: Biopower, Body Parts and Human Flows in Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things.” Global Cinema Now. Spec. Issue of Cineaction 80 (2010): 68-72.

  • “Community Action, Global Spillage: Writing the Race of Capital.” Citizenship and Cultural Belonging special issue of West Coast Line. Eds. David Chariandy and Sophie McCall. 59 (2008): 116-128.

  • “The Identity of the Body Has Not Yet Been Confirmed.” Active Geographies: Women and Struggles of the Left Coast. Spec. issue of West Coast Line. Eds. Jo-Anne Lee and Rita Wong. 58 (2008): 137-139.

  • “Other Bees, Incomplete: A Response to Margot Leigh Butler’s ‘Other’ Honey.” Representations of Murdered and Missing Women. Spec. issue of West Coast Line. Eds. Anne Stone and Amber Dean. 53 (2007): 92-95.

  • “The Imagination’s Subsidies: Whiners, Elites, Ordinary People and the Economy.” English Studies in Canada. 33:3 (2007): 16-19.

  • "Future Asians: Migrant Speculations, Repressed History & Cyborg Hope." West Coast Line. 44.2 (Fall 2004): 168-193.

  • “Corrupted Lineage: Narrative in the Gaps of History.” In-Equations: can asia pacific. Spec. issue of 33 (2001): 40-53.

  • “Yellow Peril: Revisited.” Capilano Review 2.34 (2001): 6-10.

  • “Asian Invasion vs. the Pristine Nation: Migrants Enter the Canadian Imaginary.” Fuse Magazine. 23.2. (2000): 30-40.

  • “Political Animals and the Body of History.” Canadian Literature 163 (1999): 145-156.

  • “The Sixth Sensory Organ.” absinthe. 9.1 (1996): 31-35.