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Fiction Literary

Diamond Grill

by (author) Fred Wah

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Jan 1997
Literary, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2006
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 1997
    List Price

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Winner of the 1997 Howard O’Hagan Short Fiction Award!

“In the Diamond, at the end of a long green vinyl aisle between two booths of chrome, Naugahyde, and Formica, are two large swinging wooden doors, each with a round hatch of face-sized window. Those kitchen doors can be kicked with such a slap they’re heard all the way up to the soda fountain.”

This story of family and identity, migration and integration, culture and self-discovery is told through family history, memory, and the occasional recipe.

Diamond Grill is a rich banquet where Salisbury steak shares a menu with chicken fried rice, and bird’s nest soup sets the stage for Christmas plum pudding; where racism simmers behind the shiny clean surface of the action in the cafe.

An exciting new edition of Fred Wah’s best-selling bio-fiction, on the 10th anniversary of its original publication, with an all new afterword by the author and the same pagination as the original publication.

Diamond Grill is the third title in NeWest Press’s Landmark Editions series. Landmark Editions are previously published works by established and recognized western Canadian authors that will enjoy new life in this series. Playing Dead by Rudy Wiebe was the first book and The Almost Meeting by Henry Kreisel was the second in the Landmark Editions Series. NeWest is proud to offer this series as a strong addition to the heritage of Western Canadian literature.

About the author

Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, celebrated Canadian poet Fred Wah was raised in the interior of British Columbia. He is the author of over 20 published works of poetry and prose-poetry, including the award-winning creative non-fiction Diamond Grill, the tenth anniversary edition of which was released in the fall of 2006. Other notable titles by Wah include his book of poetry Waiting For Saskatchewan (Turnstone Press), winner of a Governor General’s Award in 1985, and Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity, winner of the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing in Canadian literature. In 2008, he published a collection of poetic image/text projects titled Sentenced to Light (Talonbooks), and in 2010, he won the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize for poetry for is a door (Talonbooks).Fred Wah was one of the founding editors of the poetry journal TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he worked with Robert Creeley and Charles Olson, he returned to Canada. He has been involved in teaching internationally in poetry and poetics since the early 1960s. In 2011, Wah became Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, the fifth poet to do so. In 2013, he was made an Officer in the Order of Canada. Fred Wah currently works and lives in Vancouver.

Fred Wah's profile page

Excerpt: Diamond Grill (by (author) Fred Wah)


In the Diamond, at the end of a long green vinyl aisle between booths of chrome, Naugahyde, and Formica, are two large swinging wooden doors, each with a round hatch of face-sized window. Those kitchen doors can be kicked with such a slap they’re heard all the way up to the soda fountain. On the other side of the doors, hardly audible to the customers, echoes a jargon of curses, jokes, and cryptic orders. Stack a hots! Half a dozen fry! Hot beef san! Fingers and tongues all over the place jibe and swear You mucka high!—Thloong you! And outside, running through and around the town, the creeks flow down to the lake with, maybe, a spring thaw. And the prairie sun over the mountains to the east, over my family’s shoulders. The journal journey tilts tight-fisted through the gutter of the book, avoiding a place to start—or end. Maps don’t have beginnings, just edges. Some frayed and hazy margin of possibility, absence, gap. Shouts in the kitchen. Fish an! Side a fries! Over easy! On brown! I pick up an order and turn, back through the doors, whap! My foot registers more than its own imprint, starts to read the stain of memory.

Thus: a kind of heterocellular recovery reverberates through the busy body, from the foot against that kitchen door on up the leg into the torso and hands, eyes thinking straight ahead, looking through doors and languages, skin recalling its own reconnaissance, cooked into the steamy food, replayed in the folds of elsewhere, always far away, tunneling through the centre of the earth, mouth saying can’t forget, mouth saying what I want to know can feed me, what I don’t can bleed me.

Editorial Reviews

“… a sophisticated and moving text…. Wah has produced a memorable account …”
~ Canadian Literature

“What a joy it is to read his beautifully written sentences, filled to bursting with well-chosen language.”
~ subTerrain

"Here, Wah makes claims to identity politics again and the intricacies of it, that universalism necessarily overwrites the distinctiveness that helps one articulates the “one-ness” of personal experience. Finding the happy medium between a larger culture and an individual community seems to be what is at stake for Wah as a “hyphenated subject.”
~ Asian American Literature Fans

“This collection has been written with delicate precision, and Fred Wah, who takes great care in reproducing his family histories and mixed-race heritage, delicious foods, seasons, and community life, makes the Diamond Grill come alive.”
~ Pacfic Reader

“Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill is a small gem of a book … from unpunctuated prose poems, recipes, and excerpts from research materials, to beautifully detailed descriptions of the restaurant itself, funny and warm character sketches, and philosophical musings upon anthropology and identity.”
~ Quill & Quire

“Fred Wah’s Diamond Grill serves up a tasty literary entrée—as well as providing an entrance to a world about which we need to know if we’re to understand ourselves.”
~ The Vancouver Sun

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