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…
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…