Skip to content


Yasuko Thanh is an award-winning novelist and short story writer from Vancouver Island. She won the 2009 Journey Prize for the title story in her collection Floating Like the Dead. Her first novel, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains, a historical tale set in Vietnam, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2016. Her most recent book, the memoir Mistakes to Run With, reflects on her journey from a runaway to prostitute to a successful writer. She lives in Victoria with her daughter and is currently at work on a novel about the familial transmission of suicide.


Yasuko Thanh on her award-winning novel "Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains"

Award History

2016 Winner

Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
for Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains

Jury Citation

“Straining under the colonial rule of the French at the turn of the twentieth century, Vietnam is rife with corruption, oppression, opium dens, and revolutionary cells, and an active guillotine dominates a Saigon square. With compelling narrative drive, Yasuko Thanh imbues Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains with atmosphere and resonance, and creates mesmerizing characters who undergo complex change — politically, socially, personally, sexually — as they are gathered into a vortex of intrigue and risk. The author is as fearless and as wise in reshaping the mystique of the revolutionary as she is in delineating a dramatic time and place in this elegant and tantalizing novel.” — 2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Lauren B. Davis, Trevor Ferguson, and Pasha Malla)

2009 Winner

Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize
for Floating Like the Dead

Jury Citation

“Using artfully simple language, Yasuko Thanh has crafted a story of powerfully resonant emotion with tremendous restraint – a gift that respects both her characters and her readers.”