Born in Huangzhou, Hubei, in the People's Republic of China, Ouyang Yu completed an MA in English and Australian Literature in Shanghai and worked as an interpreter, translator and lecturer in China.
He came to Australia in 1991 to complete a PhD at La Trobe University, Melbourne, on the representation of the Chinese in Australian fiction (awarded 1995). He writes in both English and Chinese. Best known for his poetry, he has also written fiction and criticism in both languages, and has translated over a dozen major Australian literary texts into Chinese.
Ouyang's best-known works in English are his poetry collections Moon Over Melbourne and Other Poems (1995), Songs of the Last Chinese Poet (1997), short-listed for the 1999 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards) and Two Hearts, Two Tongues and Rain-Coloured Eyes (2002). His first novel, The Eastern Slope Chronicle, was published in 2002. In February 2004, this book won the Festival Award for Innovation in Writing at the 2004 Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts, apart from being short-listed for the Community Relations Commission Award, NSW Premier's Literary Awards in 2003. The book is now put on the syllabus in the English Department, University of Sydney.
He is the founding editor of Otherland, the first (and only) bilingual journal of Chinese-Australian writing. He has won a number of major grants for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and translation.