Jen Sookfong Lee featured at CBC Radio Studio One Book Club
– we check it out!
Sookfong Lee holds her first novel “The End of East”, after signing
copies for Dan Seto, Christine Lee and Todd Wong – photo by Julie Wong
Jen Sookfong Lee – CBC Studio One Book Club
May 2nd, 2007
Each month CBC Radio Studio One Book Club features a different author
and book. The hosts are Sheryl Mackay, host of CBC Radio's North
By Northwest, and John Burns, book editor for the Georgia Straight.
I have attended past Studio One Book Clubs featuring writers such as Douglas
Coupland with Terry and
Yee with Saltwater City: The Story of Vancouver’s
Chinese Community which actually contains a picture of me performing at the 2003 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
On May 2nd, Wednesday, Jen Sookfong Lee
was the featured guest, to help CBC Radio celebrate Asian Heritage Month, so explorASIAN was one of the sponsors. The book club took place in one of the tv
studios – I guess Studio One is part of the renovations as the CBC
building is being dug up along Hamilton St.
The format is this:
Sheryl and John introduce the show, talk about their guest, then
introduced Jen, and invited her up from the audience. They ask
Jen a number of questions and discussed her book.
It's about Samantha Chan who tries to run away from Vancouver to Montreal to
escape her “Chinese-ness” but ends up returning when she discovers her
grandfather's head tax certificate. Her novel tells a dual story of the early Chinese pioneers
to Vancouver during the time of head tax (1895-1923) and the 1923
exclusion act while also telling a contemporary story of present
day Samantha Chan dealing with her identity and family history.
Jen says that her first novel took 7
years to completion. She took the Master of Fine Arts for
Creative Writing at UBC and was writing a lot of poetry. Soon she
got a job in Chinatown. She walked its streets and breathed its
history. She photocopied her grandfather's head tax certificate
and hung it up on the wall. At the time, the head tax redress
movement had been rearing its head here and there, but gained steam as
Jen was refining her final drafts. As head tax redress became an
exciting election issue during the 2005 federal election, she was
finishing her seventh and final draft. She decided that the novel
was finishing itself and would not be influenced by the current events.
As usual, audience members are invited to ask the author
questions. I introduced myself, and told Jen I had written about
her novel on my blog. She said she had been reading my
articles. I told her that like her, I am also a head tax
descendent. And then I asked her my question…. You can hear my
question on the upcoming Jen Sookfong Lee CBC Studio One Book Club event, part of Vancouver's Asian Heritage Month celebrations, will be broadcast the third and fourth Sundays of this month, on May 20 and 27 in British Columbia on the North by Northwest program between 8:00am and 9:00am.
Author Jen Sookfong Lee signs a copy of “The End of East” for Julie Wong – photo Todd Wong
Check out some reviews of “The End of East”
March 23, 2007
“The End of East is just her start”
Jen Sookfong Lee profiled in 7 section of The Globe and Mail
March 22, 2007
“End of East chronicles immigrants' gamble”
The End of East reviewed in The Georgia Straight
March 22, 2007
The End of East reviewed in NOW Magazine
March 17, 2007
“Uprooted from Vancouver”
The End of East reviewed in The Globe and Mail
March 10, 2007
to the archived conversation of SPiN talking with Sheryl
MacKay on North by Northwest at CBC Radio One's archive, www.cbc.ca/nxnw