As an author, Lee prefers to spell her first name SKY with capitals. Born in Port Alberni in 1952, SKY Lee came to Vancouver in 1967. She earned her B.A. in Fine Arts from UBC as well as a diploma in Nursing from Douglas College. She worked for Makara magazine and illustrated Paul Yee's Teach Me To Fly, Skyfighter! before releasing her novel, Disappearing Moon Cafe (D&M, 1990) about four generations of the Wong family in Vancouver who operate the cafe of the title. Using a variety of narrators, Lee contrives a family epic that begins with the emigration of Wong Gwei Chang, a patriarch who comes to Canada at the end of the 19th century, and culminates in the life of Kae Ying Woo who reflects on her past. According to the promotional material, "As past sins and inborn strengths are passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter, each generation confronts, in its own way,the same problems--isolation, racism, the clash of cultures--and each evolves a little bit more." This first novel received the City of Vancouver book award although it failed to satisfy some critics who complained about potted history and over-earnest writing. "Hardly a noun walks free of a trail of adjectives," wrote Gary Draper.

A member of the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop, Lee moved to Saltspring Island and published a 1994 collection of short fiction, Bellydancer: Stories (Press Gang, 1994). Promotional material advises the reader that "bellydancing was originally performed at the bedside of women in labour, as an erotic dance of creation." The collection encourages readers, in particular women, to reclaim what they consider to be erotic for themselves, rather than subscribe to the definitions of eroticism that are prevalent in society or mainstream media. Although stories such as "Dyke Dollars," "Winter Tan Too" and "Lesbians and other Subversives" obviously deal with lesbian characters, the range of perspectives is wide. At the launch of this book SKY Lee asked her audience to consider who they dance naked for--encouraging them to consider their own eroticism on their own terms. Her co-edited collection Telling It: Women and Language Across Cultures also examines and challenges conventional boundaries.


Disappearing Moon Cafe (D&M, 1990); NeWest Press 2017)
Telling It: Women and Language Across Cultures (Press Gang, 1990). With Betsy Warland, Lee Maracle and Daphne Marlatt (Author-Editors)
Bellydancer: Stories (Press Gang, 1994)

[BCBW 2017] "Fiction" "Chinese"