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Wayson Choy on The Jade Peony

The Story

Ghetto-bound and trapped by a racist immigration law, Vancouver's Chinese population in the 1930s and '40s is brought to light in Wayson Choy's 1995 novel The Jade Peony. It's a story that took 18 years for Choy, a teacher of creative writing, to bring to fruition. Told from the alternating viewpoints of three siblings, the book delves into a largely unknown chapter of Canadian history. In this interview for CBC Radio's The Arts Tonight, Choy says his novel is a tale of survival. 

Medium: Radio
Program: The Arts Tonight
Broadcast Date: Jan. 15, 1996
Guest(s): Wayson Choy
Interviewer: Eleanor Wachtel
Duration: 12:49

Did You know?

• Born in Vancouver in 1939, Wayson Choy grew up in the city's Chinatown and studied creative writing under Earle Birney at the University of British Columbia. In 1967 he began teaching at Toronto's Humber College.

  • The Jade Peony was originally a short story that Choy eventually fleshed out into a full-length novel. After its publication in 1995 it won both the City of Vancouver Book Award and Ontario's Trillium Book Award, shared with Margaret Atwood (for Morning in the Burned House).


• Choy's 2004 novel, All That Matters, is a sequel to The Jade Peony, told from the viewpoint of a fourth sibling. It was shortlisted for the 2004 Giller Prize.




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