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Elizabeth Hay (novelist)

Elizabeth Hay
Elizabeth Hay signing her book Late Nights on Air at the Port Colborne Author Series
Born October 22, 1951
Owen Sound, Ontario
Occupation novelist and short story writer
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto
Genre fiction
Notable works Late Nights on Air; A Student of Weather, Small Change, Garbo Laughs

Elizabeth Grace Hay[1] (born October 22, 1951) is a Canadian novelist and short story writer.[2]

Her novel A Student of Weather (2000) was a finalist for the Giller Prize and won the CAA MOSAID Technologies Award for Fiction and the TORGI Award.[3] She has been a nominee for the Governor General's Award twice, for Small Change in 1997 and for Garbo Laughs in 2003, and won the Giller Prize for her 2007 novel Late Nights on Air.

In 2002, she received the Marian Engel Award, presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada to an established female writer for her body of work — including novels, short fiction, and creative non-fiction.


Hay was born on October 22, 1951 in Owen Sound, Ontario.[4] She is the daughter of a high school principal and a painter. She spent a year in England when she was fourteen, then returned to Canada to attend the University of Toronto.

In January, 1972, she quit university before finishing and travelled out west by train.[5] In 1974 she moved to Yellowknife, NWT. She worked for ten years as a CBC radio broadcaster in Yellowknife, Winnipeg and Toronto and then moved to Mexico, where she freelanced. In 1986 she moved to New York City, and then returned to Canada in 1992 with her family. She lives in Ottawa with her husband Mark. She has two children: a son, Ben, and a daughter, Sochi.

Critical reputation and style

In an interview with the CBC in 2007, Hay commented on the relationship between her writing and her career in radio. "When I worked in Yellowknife," she said, "I was writing poetry and stories on the side and not getting very far. I felt kind of schizophrenic, like my radio work was one type of thing and my writing was another and there was a gap between. That became even more pronounced when I started working for CBC’s Sunday Morning, doing radio documentaries. I took me a while to realize that there didn’t need to be such a wide gap between those two forms of writing, and that they could cross-fertilize. Good radio writing is similar to any good writing. It’s direct and economical and intimate and full of detail. Also, it sets your visual imagination working." [6]



Short Story Collections

Short stories

  • “The Friend” (in Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, edited by Jane Urquhart, 2007, Penguin Canada)
  • "Jet in England", Ottawa Magazine summer fiction issue, Jul/Aug 2007
  • "The Food of Love", Ottawa Citizen, Holiday Edition, 2008
  • "Of Mattresses and Men", Ottawa Magazine summer fiction issue, July/Aug 2008
  • "Last Poems", The New Quarterly, Spring 2009
  • "City as Redhead", The New Quarterly, Spring 2009


  • A non-fiction trilogy about Elizabeth Hay's travels outside of Canada:


  • “Ten Beauty Tips You Never Asked For” (in Dropped Threads 2, edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson, 2003, Vintage Canada)
  • "The Most Fearless Book I Read", (in The Book I Read, edited by Peder Zane, 2004, Norton)
  • “My Debt to D.H. Lawrence” (in Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life, edited by Constance Rooke, 2006, McClelland & Stewart)


  • Short Fiction, an Anthology, edited by Rosemary Sullivan and Mark Levene, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • The Scotiabank Giller Prize 15 Years: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Canadian Fiction, Penguin, 2008
  • Best Canadian Essays 2010, Tightrope Books, 2010

Prizes and honours


  1. ^ Elizabeth Grace Hay The Peerage, retrieved 11/17/2012
  2. ^ Elizabeth Hay's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. ^ W. H. New, ed. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002: 477.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Hay's web site
  5. ^ January Magazine, June 2000
  6. ^ CBC.CA, November 7, 2007
  7. ^ Wilfrid Laurier University 1993: Elizabeth Hay, retrieved 11/17/2012