Shaena Lambert is a novelist, short story writer and teacher, author of two novels and two short story collections, which have been published to critical acclaim in Canada and internationally. Her fiction has been compared with Carol Shields, Alice Munro and Annie Proulx.
Shaena was born and raised in Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BFA in Creative Writing, Shaena became a full-time anti-war activist, first with the End the Arms Race coalition in Vancouver, which organized the annual Walk for Peace, largest annual peace walk in North America, then as the coordinator of The Canadian Peace Alliance, based in Toronto. During that time she helped to build and lead campaigns against cruise missile deployment, nuclear proliferation, and the Iraq War. In 1992 she left full-time anti-war activism to become a fiction writer and mother.
Shaena’s first book of short stories, The Falling Woman (Vintage, 2002), was chosen by The Globe and Mail as a top book of the year, and was short-listed for the Danuta Gleed Award. The Falling Woman was also published internationally by Virago Press in the United Kingdom and by Berlin Verlag in Germany in 2003.
Radiance, her first novel – about an enigmatic Hiroshima survivor who comes to New York for surgery on her face & the complex relationship she has with her hosts – was published by Random House Canada in February 2007, also to widespread critical acclaim. Virago Press, in the United Kingdom, launched the book in May, 2007, distributing it within the European Union and to New Zealand and Australia, where it was also met with high praise. Radiance was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Award and the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.
Shaena’s fiction and poetry have appeared in many prominent journals and magazines, including Ploughshares, Zoetrope: All Story, Toronto Life, Image (Dublin), Marvels & Tales – The Journey of Fairytale Studies, The Walrus, Nimrod, Descant, The Malahat Review, The North American Review and Prism International, as well as being selected four times for Best Canadian Stories, and for The Journey Prize Anthology.
Shaena’s most recent book of stories, Oh My Darling, was published to critical acclaim by HarperCollins Canada, Patrick Crean Editions. The stories circle around ‘family, love and contemporary life’. The collection was chosen as a top book of the year by The Globe and Mail and The National Post, received rave reviews across Canada, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award, and won the CBC Bookie Award for best story collection of 2013.
Lambert has studied fiction with Margaret Atwood, Bonnie Burnard and Peter Carey. She has taught fiction and memoir writing through the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, The Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University, the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts, the Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Centre and with Humber College in Ontario. She also provides critical feedback to writers on a freelance basis.
Shaena is a regular on-stage host at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival, and has moderated intriguing discussions with dozens of writers, including Emma Donoghue, Kathleen Winter, Alistair MacLeod, Paul Quarrington, David Adams Richards, Lynn Coady, Teva Harrison and Jack Hodgins.
A dedicated environmentalist and climate activist, Shaena was arrested twice on Burnaby Mountain for crossing a police barrier, to protest the building of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from the Alberta tar sands, and continues to actively oppose oil pipelines, logging of old growth, and other policies leading to climate change and environmental destruction. Her statement to the Court of Appeal can be found here.
She lives with her partner, Bob Penner, who runs a national communications company, Strategic Communications. They have two grown children – Peter and Lucy. Shaena splits her time between Vancouver and Cortes Island, a northern Gulf Island in Desolation Sound.
The video above is a TV interview with Shaena, about her book Oh, My Darling, on the Fanny Kiefer show.