Books·Canadian

The Jade Peony

Set in Vancouver's Chinatown during the late 1930s, Wayson Choy's debut novel explores the lives of three children of an immigrant family.

Wayson Choy

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.

From the book

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.

Interviews

In this audio podcast, Wayson Choy talks about his book, the Canada Reads debates and meeting Samantha Nutt for the first time. 7:01
The author of The Jade Peony explains why it took him 18 years to write his novel about Vancouver's Chinatown. 12:49

More about this book

Wayson Choy introduces and reads an excerpt from his novel The Jade Peony. 4:03

Other books by Wayson Choy