Wayson Choy, 80, Whose Books Are Windows on Chinese-Canadian Life, Dies

Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times, May 3, 2019

Wayson Choy, who wrote of the Chinese-Canadian experience in memoirs and novels like “The Jade Peony,” which became a mainstay in Canadian classrooms and led to a revelation about the writer’s own past, died on April 28 at his home in Toronto. He was 80.

Denise Bukowski, Mr. Choy’s agent, said the cause was a heart attack brought on by an asthma attack. He had nearly died from heart attacks related to asthma in the past, episodes he wrote about in “Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying” (2009).

“The Jade Peony,” his debut novel, published in 1995, when he was 56, was one of the first to detail life in a Chinese-Canadian community. It follows a Chinese immigrant family in Vancouver in the 1930s and ’40s as they struggle to make a home in a sometimes hostile country, drawing what support they can from shared traditions, community and folklore. Read more…

“The Jade Peony,” published in 1995, was one of the first to detail the Chinese immigrant experience in Canada. It has become a mainstay in Canadian classrooms.CreditDouglas and McIntyre

Luck, love, life: Beloved author Wayson Choy had always lived to perfect his stories, again and again

ANTANAS SILEIKA, THE GLOBE AND MAIL, APRIL 30, 2019

Wayson Choy and I were both English teachers at Humber College in Toronto when he published his first book, The Jade Peony, in 1995. He was 56 at the time, a late-breaking author. I had published my own first book the year before and I said to him over lunch in the staff dining room, “Enjoy the attention, Wayson. It doesn’t last.”

The book, about a gay boy growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown of the thirties and forties, went on to be a bestseller for 26 weeks and shared a Trillium Award with Margaret Atwood. If Chinatown was practically invisible in the Canadian consciousness at the time, a gay boy in such a setting was a revelation of a reality too long ignored. He later received many more honours, including a Giller nomination and the Order of Canada. Read more…

Author Wayson Choy in the Random House Publishing office on April 1, 2009. JENNIFER ROBERTS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL