It is the first ever graphic novel to tell the story of the Chinese immigration to North America. David gave many thanks to his publisher and editors at Arsenal Pulp Press, as he had just returned from a week-long book tour in California.
Above, David poses for a pictures Paul Leung and Peggy Lee
, veterans of Pacific Unit 280. David made sure he included the stories of the Chinese Canadian veterans of WW2, as it is an important part of Chinese Canadian history that helped to win the right to vote for people of Chinese ancestry who were born in Canada, like my parents and all our family elders.
I have known David since 1986, when we first met during the construction of the Saltwater City Exhibition, a museum quality exhibit that celebrated 100 years of Chinese history in the City of Vancouver, for the city’s Centennial celebrations. The exhibit was chaired by author/archivist Paul Yee. At the time, David was studying architecture at UBC, and I was studying political science and literature at Capilano College.
A dragon dance from the Gung Haggis Dragon Boat
team started off the afternoon’s event as a fun ceremony. This was fitting as David had been a member of the team in 2002, and had designed the team’s logo – a smiling Chinese Dragon head, wearing a Scottish tam hat. The Chinese parade dragon was carried by 5 people, and followed by a Chinese Lion.
When the Chinese lion arrived at the front of the room, I presented it with a “lucky money” red envelope, which it “ate”. Then I removed it’s Lion head mask, to reveal author David Wong. What a great way to make an entrance! Susan Ma, staff host for the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens welcomes David to the event, while our dragon paraders finalize their work. The dragon was led by Gung Haggis team paddler/Asst Coach Steven Wong, with David Wong’s two sons: Colten and Cameron, and two more team memberss: Caroline Ng and Deb Martin.
For 30 minutes, David Wong explained the process of how he created his graphic novel.
Would he do it again? David told the audience that if you had asked him that question four months ago, he would have said “Never again.” But now after speaking to many audiences, and seeing the delight in people’s faces, and receiving their encouraging feedback, he says… “maybe.”
Has it been successful? The first printing of the Escape to Gold Mountain has already been sold out. The book is now in its second printing and is ranked #1 for Asian North American literature.
David knows his subject. He has been active in the community and promoting Chinese Canadian history for many years now. I have known him when he was a board member for Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society in 2002, then later as a founding director for Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC. He has been a blogger at the Ugly Chinese Canadian
and author of the Generasian
The line up for autographs and pictures was long… and many community leaders and activists came out to support David. L-R: Bev Nann (red scarf) was president of VAHMS in 2002. Suzanne Ma is a writer/blogger. Judge Randall Wong is the first provincial court judge of Chinese ancestry in BC and is included in David’s book. Cynthia and Daniel Lee were head tax redress activists during the big Redress campaign of 2005/2006, when I got to know them.
WW2 Veteran Frank Wong holds open the page, that tells his story on page 216-221, Chapter 21 Old Foes New Relations. This is a great real-life story, about how Frank’s WW2 experience as an engineer at Normandy has ramifications for his current life. I have known Frank since I was a little child as childhood friends to his nephews.