2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust  Prize for Nonfiction Finalist

Measure of a Man


JJ Lee
The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit
McClelland & Stewart



JJ Lee


Jury Citation

JJ Lee artfully blends a first-person narrative with a sartorial history of that most symbolic of men’s garments, the suit. The Measure of a Man is a memoir of a dysfunctional, occasionally violent, childhood and a biography of Lee’s alcoholic, immigrant father. It is also the contemporary story of Lee’s apprenticeship at a tailor’s shop. Lee’s disassembly and alteration of a jacket mirrors the reconstruction of his relationship with the suit’s original wearer, his late father. By turns nostalgic and unflinching, these story strands weave together to form a poignant exploration of identity and manhood.

About the Book

Originally prepared as a radio documentary on the social history of men's suits for CBC Radio, The Measure of a Man shares JJ Lee’s story of discovering what it means to be your own man. After ignoring his father’s old suit in the back of his closet for years, Lee decides to alter it, sparking a flood of memories from both his childhood days and his year as an apprentice of one of the last great tailors in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Lee pieces together his own tumultuous relationship with his late father while describing how the suit has become a battleground between generations in this story of love and forgiveness.

About the Author

JJ Lee was born and raised in Montreal, primarily on the city’s South Shore. He studied fine arts at Concordia University and holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia. The Measure of a Man is his debut book and was also a nominee for the 2011 Governor General's Literary Award and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction.

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Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

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Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
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