Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 2, 2011

Meet an Aussie Author: Ouyang Yu

English Class

Ouyang Yu is an exciting voice in Australian letters who has recently come to wider attention because his most recent novel The English Class was shortlisted in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Award.  (You can see my review here, check out a Sensational Snippet here, and vote for it in the People’s Choice Award here).  

Born in China, Ouyang Yu came to Australia in 1991 as a PhD student at LaTrobe University and is now an academic, editor, author and poet.  He is the editor of a blingual Chinese-Australian literary journal called Otherland, and translator of many notable Australian authors including Christina Stead, Xavier Herbert, Germaine Greer and David Malouf.[1]

A prolific author, Ouyang Yu has written 55 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, translation and literary criticism, but somehow has found time to participate in this Meet an Aussie Author series.

 1. I was born in Huangzhou, Hubei, China, in 1955, right on the Yangtze.

2. When I was a child I probably wrote nothing although I can remember my diary kept in the junior middle school (equivalent of your Year 9 or thereabouts) was displayed for other students of my class to read.

3.  One of the people who inspired me to write was my 14th grandfather, who is a character in TEC.

4.  I write in Kingsbury, Victoria, a place that has become the title of a book of poetry, The Kingsbury Tales.

5.  I write whenever I can find the time and wherever I am, in a court, a cafe, on board the plane, in a moving train, a toilet, by the side of a street, immediately after a telephone conversation, in bed, and etc.

6.  Research is both necessary and not. What is buried inside one’s body and memory is perhaps more important than the physical research. That said, you still do research. For example, I had to travel the Burma Road for The English Class.

7.  I keep my published works on my shelves but I notice that my clients hardly ever take note of them (I’m a professional translator, of both commerce and literature).

8.  On the day my first book was published, I now don’t remember anything at all but my delight came earlier, when the publisher rang me to inform me of its acceptance.   Alex Miller, a great friend, was the first one I rang about this.

9.  At the moment, I’m writing poems on a daily basis, in both English and Chinese.

10.  When I’m stuck for an idea, I stop and do something else till the idea returns. If I get stuck for a word or an expression, I do the same or try to find a substitute.

You can find out more about Ouyang Yu at his website

Thanks for participating, Ouyang!

[1] Source: Wikipedia

English ClassAuthor: Ouyang Yu
Title: The English Class
Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing 2010
ISBN: 0980571782
Source: Personal copy, purchased at Readings at the State Library $32.95


  1. Not sure what a 14th grandfather is.


    • I think it means 14 generations ago?


  2. Thanks Lisa
    this is fast becoming one of my favourite inclusions to your blog. These ten questions give some great insight into the writing process and I always come away feeling that I know them just a little better!


  3. Hi Jenny
    I like it too, and I think it’s very generous of the authors who’ve participated to give their time in this way.
    I always find it most interesting to see what they say about research!


  4. I love this as well lisa but haven’t comment a lot (sorry ) ,he sounds like a great younger writer with a lovely mix of Aussie and Chinese views I would imagine in his works ,all the best stu


  5. […] Ouyang Yu (see his profile at Meet an Aussie Author) […]


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