While it's great to hear the venerable UBC Creative Writing department will be getting an infusion of major dough from Penguin Random House, commencing in 2014, the upstart SFU Writers Studio is the hotbed on the rise. Taiwanese-born Janie Chang is their latest SFU grad to make a major splash, drawing on 36 generations of her families' recorded genealogy for her debut novel Three Souls (HarperCollins $19.99). The main character is the ghost of Leiyin who was captivated by a left-wing poet as a teenager during Chinese civil strife in the 1930s. Denied entrance to the afterlife, she must reconcile her three souls: her scholarly yang soul, her romantic yin soul and her wise hun soul. 9781443423908

Her second novel, Dragon Springs Road (Harper Collins 2017), again draws on her family history for inspiration. Set in early twentieth century Shanghai where an ancient imperial dynasty collapses, a new government struggles to coalesce, and two girls - one a Eurasian orphan, the other a daughter of privilege - are bound together in a friendship that will be tested by duty, honour, and love.

The Library of Legends (Harper Collins 2020), Chang's third title, is set in China in 1937 as Japan begins bombing the city of Nanking. Nineteen-year-old Hu Lian flees with fellow students and their faculty on a thousand-mile walk to the safety of China's western provinces. At stake is not only their lives, but a five-hundred-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends.

Janie Chang has also lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand and New Zealand. She has a degree in computer science from SFU.


Three Souls (Harper Collins 2013) $29.99 978-1-44342-390-8

Dragon Springs Road (Harper Collins 2017) 978-1443439374

The Library of Legends (Harper Collins 2020) $18.99 978-0062851505

[BCBW 2020]