The Concubine's Children

Denise Chong's family memoir delves into the story of her grandmother — a concubine purchased by her grandfather when she was only 17.

Denise Chong

The Concubine's Children is the story of a family cleaved in two for the sake of a father's dream. There's Chan Sam, who left an "at home" wife in China to earn a living in "Gold Mountain" — North America. There's May-ying, the wilful, 17-year-old concubine he bought, sight unseen, who laboured in tea houses of west coast Chinatowns to support the family he would have in Canada, and the one he had in China. It was the concubine's third daughter, the author's mother, who unlocked the past for her daughter, whose curiosity about some old photographs ultimately reunited a family divided for most of the last century. (From Penguin Canada)