Born in 1953 in Calgary, Alberta. She lived there until she was fifteen, at which time she moved with her family to Boston. She went on to study at Sarah Lawrence University in New York where she was given the opportunity to spend a year of her studies in Paris. Arriving in Paris in 1973, Ms. Huston stayed there and obtained a Masters Degree from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, writing a thesis on swear words under the supervision of Roland Barthes.
Despite not having begun to learn French before she left Canada, Ms. Huston found that the combination of her eventual command of the language and her distance from it as a non-native speaker helped her to find her literary voice. Since 1980, Nancy Huston has published over nineteen books of fiction and non-fiction, including the three English versions of previously published French works and Plainsong, which was written before its French counterpart, Cantique des Plaines. Of the six novels she has written so far, only Histoire d'Omaya (1985) and Trois fois septembre (1989) have not been published in English.
While Nancy Huston's occasionally controversial works of non-fiction have been well-received, her fiction has earned her the most critical acclaim. Her first novel, Les Variations Goldberg (1981), was awarded the Prix Contrepoint and was shortlisted for the more prestigious Prix Fémina. She translated this novel into English as The Goldberg Variations (1996).
Her next major award came in 1993 when she was awarded the Canadian Governor General's Award for Fiction in French for Cantique des Plaines. Ms. Huston's winning of this award caused some controversy among Quebec literati, as not only was Nancy Huston not a Québécoise, she was not even French-Canadian. Furthermore, her critics argued, the work was apparently written first in English and that version of the novel did not even make the shortlist for the same award for English-language fiction. What was perhaps most telling, however, was that none of her critics could deny that Cantique des Plaines was a moving and beautifully written novel. Her subsequent novels have also proven that Ms. Huston's success was not undeserved. La Virevolte (1994) went on to win the Prix "L" and the Prix Louis-Hémon. It was published in English in 1996 as Slow Emergencies.
In 1998 she was nominated for a General's award for L'Empreinte de l'ange. The next year she was nominated for a Governor General's award for translating her work into English, in which it was published as The Mark of the Angel.
Ms. Huston's most recent novel, Instruments des ténèbres, has been her most successful novel yet, being shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt, the Prix Fémina, and the Governor General's Award and winning the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. Ms. Huston's English version of Instruments des ténèbres has just been published as Instruments of Darkness.
Ms. Huston lives in Paris with her husband and two children.