Born in 1961 in Shanghai, she now lives in Vancouver and is the mother of two children. She obtained a degree in French language and literature from Fudan University (复旦大学) in 1983 and worked as a translator and interpreter before moving to Montreal in 1989. She later lived in Magog, Quebec before moving to Vancouver in 2003.
Ying Chen's novels include La mémoire de l'eau, Les lettres chinoises, L'ingratitude (which won the Prix Québec-Paris, and was published in the U.S. as "Ingratitude," translated by Carol Volk, and published in China as "再见妈妈", self-translated), Immobile (which won the Prix Alfred-DesRochers), Le champ dans la mer (published in China as "V家花园", self-translated), Querelle d'un squelette avec son double (self-translated and published on Amazon as "Skeleton and its double"), "Le Mangeur", "Un Enfant à ma porte", "Espèces", "La Rive est loin". She wrote two books of essays: "Quatre mille marches" and "La Lenteur des montagnes". She practices a lean, polished and deceptively simple writing style, free of flourishes and excess verbiage. As a child, one of her schoolteachers once told her "the most simple is the most beautiful", and she has retained this idea.