The Jade Peony
Wayson Choy's poignant, award-winning debut novel is told from the point of view of three siblings who come of age in Vancouver's Chinatown during the Depression and war years. The Jade Peony is a sensitive depiction of the collision of cultures that all newcomers experience — and the conflicts within families that can arise as a result. It's also a vivid evocation of the division between the world of adults and the world of childhood, rendered with insight, humour and grace.
When it was published in 1995, The Jade Peony won Ontario's Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award. The book was a finalist in Canada Reads 2010, when it was defended by Samantha Nutt.
Most Chinatown people were from the dense villages of southern Kwangtung province, a territory racked by cycles of famine and drought. When the call for railroad workers came from labour contract brokers in Canada in the 1880s, every man who was able and capable left his farm and village to be indentured for dangerous work in the mountain ranges of the Rockies. There had also been rumours of gold in the rivers that poured down those mountain cliffs, gold that could make a man and his family wealthy overnight.
From The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy ©1995. Published by Douglas & McIntyre.