Author Feature: Jen Sookfong Lee

Author Feature: Jen Sookfong Lee

From its beginnings as a farming celebration marking the end of winter to its current role as a global party featuring good food, lots of gifts and public parades, Chinese New Year is a snapshot of Chinese culture. Award-winning author and broadcaster Jen Sookfong Lee recalls her childhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, and weaves family stories into the history, traditions and evolution of Chinese New Year. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs throughout.

What planning and research did you do for you book?

I did a lot of research into how Chinese New Year has evolved around the world. Basically wherever Chinese people migrated to, New Year celebrations exist!

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Write what you feel most compelled by, not what you think other people want to read.


What’s in your to-be-read pile? What makes you want to read those books?

Bad Ideas by Michael V. Smith, The Break by Katherena Vermette. I like books by people who write about outsider status or are from communities we haven’t historically heard a lot from in Canada.

Do you listen to audio books? Why or why not?

Not usually (I like to hold a book and I like the quiet). I did when I had eye surgery and when I used to go on a lot of road trips. For audio, I like crime fiction.

What book do you think you learned the most from reading or admire most? Tell us why!

I always go back to The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Both books (in wildly different ways) say a lot about gender and feminism, but they both also give voice to what some might consider small worlds (a child’s world, small town Manitoba). Not every novel has to be about war or dragons!

What’s your favorite movie that was adapted from a book or short story?

Trainspotting or Stand By Me.

Do you listen to music when you write? Why or why not?

No, I do not. I like the silence!

Do you have a quote you like to live by?

I’m the only one who says this, but it’s “Expect nothing but celebrate everything.”

What’s your favorite city you’ve lived in! Tell us why!

Vancouver! My hometown!

Chinese New Year is available now!

Lee, Jen Sookfong 09-06-16Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in East Vancouver, British Columbia, and she now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, The Better Mother, The End of East and Shelter, a novel for young adults. A popular CBC Radio One personality, Jen appears regularly as a contributor on “The Next Chapter” and is a frequent co-host of the Studio One Book Club. Jen teaches writing at The Writer’s Studio Online with Simon Fraser University and with the Continuing Studies department of the University of British Columbia. For more information, visit

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