"In China, [Choy] tells us, a figure called the 'dark storyteller' reveals 'hidden things not seen in the glare of daylight.' Working in a new country and a new context, Wayson Choy has deftly continued that tradition...a fine debut novel." -- New York Times
"A true and touching insight into a largely unrecorded wartime world...A genuine contribution to history as well as to fiction." -- Margaret Drabble
"An exquisite novel...The craftmanship is glorious." -- Globe & Mail
Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and Î40s provides the setting for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid and intense reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant family. They each experience a very different childhood, depending on age and sex, as they encounter the complexities of birth and death, love and hate, kinship and otherness. Mingling with the realities of Canada and the horror of war are the magic, ghosts, paper uncles and family secrets of Poh-Poh, or Grandmother, who is the heart and pillar of the family.
Wayson Choy's Chinatown is a community of unforgettable individuals who are neither this nor that, neither entirely Canadian nor Chinese. But with each other's help, they survive hardship and heartbreak with grit and humour.
The Jade Peony was a 2010 Canada Reads Selection.
About the author
Wayson Choy (April 20, 1939–April 28, 2019) was a pioneer of Chinese-Canadian literature. His first novel, The Jade Peony, was co-winner—with Margaret Atwood's Morning in the Burned House—of the 1995 Trillium Award for the best book by an Ontario resident. It also won the City of Vancouver Book Award. The Jade Peony spent 26 weeks on the Toronto Globe & Mail bestseller list and placed Number 6 on its 1996 Year End National Bestseller List for Fiction.
Born in Vancouver in 1939, Wayson Choy taught English Literature at Humber College in Toronto for over 25 years. In 2004 Choy was appointed to the Order of Canada and won the Harbourfront Festival Prize, awarded annually to a writer who "has made a substantial contribution to the world of books and writing."
In 2015, Choy received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to BC literature.
In his acceptance speech, Choy remarked "I'm proud to have my pioneer Chinatown stories—and my own personal ones—recognized as part of the shared literary history of all Canadians,"
Choy was also awarded the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction for Paper Shadows: A Memoir of a Past Lost and Found in 1999 and Ontario's Trillium Book Award in 2005 for All That Matters.