Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Tsering Yangzom Lama

September 23, 2022

Tsering Yangzom Lama

Tsering Yangzom Lama’s novel We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies has been longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Tsering Yangzom Lama holds a BA in creative writing and international relations from the University of British Columbia, and an MFA from Columbia University. Born and raised in Nepal, Tsering has lived in Toronto, New York City, and Vancouver, where she now resides. We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is her first novel.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I don’t have a single takeaway for readers. When I think about the books that I love, I don’t usually walk away with a single takeaway. Instead, the pleasure of literature for me is about deep immersion in the lives and worlds of other people. I hope readers of my book have a similar experience. Reading for me is also about the pleasure of encountering language crafted with care, so I hope readers find moments like that in reading my book.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

When I was eight or nine, still learning English in Nepal, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. At the time I was reading a lot of English-language novels and comic books. Strangely, I don’t remember having that dream or ever articulating it to anyone else. But years later, when I was trying to write my first short story in university, I found my old diary and was surprised to see that line. Maybe that dream was always beneath the surface of my mind.

What is your favourite book from childhood?

I read The Catcher in the Rye and The Stranger as a teenager. I loved those two novels and read them over and over. I was in love with the voices of those novels.

What is your favorite CanLit book?

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje is one of my favourites. I still find it deeply moving every time I return to it. The hybrid form is exquisite in that book. Another book I’ve long loved is Fred Wah’s The Diamond Grill, which had a deep impact on me.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?

Usually I text friends and say, “Did you read so and so?” If they haven’t, and if I loved it, I usually insist passionately that they do so immediately. I can be pretty emphatic with my feelings/thoughts about books — and most things, to be fair.

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