Every generation there is a book that emerges to become a landmark in the literary landscape. It’s been more than twenty years since SKY Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe came out and became an overnight sensation, earning the City of Vancouver Book Award in 1990. Since then there has been a blossoming of fresh new Asian Canadian writers voices such as Evelyn Lau, Rita Wong, Larissa Lai, Jen Sookfong Lee, the list goes on. There is a very good chance that Janie Chang’s Three Souls could be a notable addition to the literary establishment.
Three Souls is Janie Chang’s first book. Situated in a 1920’s China fractured by civil war and social turmoil is a story about the female ghost Leiyin traveling back through her memories to remember her life and the sins that shackle her to this world. Behind the magnificent gates of the Song family estate, none of this upheaval touches Leiyin, a spoiled and idealistic teenager. When she falls in love with the handsome left-wing poet Hanchin and defies her father, however, she learns the harsh reality of her position: as a daughter, her life is entirely under her father’s control.
literASIAN 2013 will be hosting Janie Chang as part of its inaugural writers’ festival November 21 to 24, 2013. Janie has an interesting background: born in Taiwan, she has lived in the Philippines, Iran, Thailand, and New Zealand, and now settled in Vancouver where as an Asian Canadian novelist, she draws upon family history for her writing.
Growing up in Taiwan listening to stories about ancestors who encountered dragons, ghosts, and immortals and about family life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War, Janie has captured these family stories as a compendium of sketches, and re-worked them during her time at the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University into its present incarnation, Three Souls.
Dim Sum Stories, evokes the Chinese-style of cuisine featuring many delectable dishes of dumplings and bite-sized morsels often socially tasted in Chinese restaurants in the mornings and late afternoons. The Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop is producing the inaugural literASIAN: a Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing which will have Larry Wong as one of the featured authors at the opening reception on November 21 and closing dinner gala on November 24. Larry will be giving a reading and author signing of Dim Sum Stories.
Dim Sum Stories: A Chinatown Childhood is Larry Wong’s memoirs, a nostalgic glimpse back at growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown during the 1940s and ’50s, and paints the portrait of his family.
Larry’s father is a central part of Dim Sum Stories, where his journey began from a Chinese village to settling in Canada. The senior Wong’s story is much like those of other Chinese who immigrated to British Columbia during and following the gold rush. After setting up a shirt-tailoring store, he was able to save and borrow enough to bring his wife and children over. This story of struggle and survival also inspired Larry’s most recent play Empress of Asia, performed at the Firehall Arts Centre.
His interest in history has seen him serving on a number of heritage committees, and as a mentor, consultant and resource person for a number of writers and scholars. He has been acknowledged in Chinese Canadian history books such as Paul Yee’s Saltwater City and Wayson Choy’s books. One of his current activities is the popular feature, “Ask Larry” on the Chinese Canadian Historical Society website. Part of his research on Chinatown can be seen on display at 5 West Pender Street as well as the Chinese military museum in the Chinese Cultural Centre. For more information, please visit: www.asiancanadianwriters.ca or www.ricepapermagazine.ca