Wayson Choy is “Not Yet” dead: story in the Georgia Straight written by Brandy Lien Worrall

Wayson Choy's new memoir “Not Yet” is now available. 

Brandy Lien Worrall wrote the related cover story for the Georgia Straight last week about Wayson.


Also check out Charlie Smith's sidebar cover story:

Wayson Choy's Chinatown memories inspire

featuring Jen Fooksong Lee, author of “The End of East”

Life and Death are linked.  Wayson Choy has defied death twice.  His memoir writings are just as important as his novels.

Brandy Lien Worrall is just finishing up the last courses and meetings for her Masters of Fine Arts, Creative Writing.  I got to know her during the Spring 2007 writing workshop she taught for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society, which produced the book Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian & Aboriginal Potluck.  Just before the course was finished, Brandy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She would fight and survive.  Check out Brandy's blog

In 1989, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer tumor.  When I found myself questioning whether I would live or die, I knew I wasn't finished yet…  I didn't know what I still had to do, but I knew I wasn't finished…. not yet.

Wayson Choy also said “Not Yet.”

Not Yet is now the title of Wayson's newest memoir.  It follows the 1999 memoir, Paper Shadows, which was concerned with the ghosts and secrets of his adoption.

I got to know Wayson and his work while I was on the inaugural One Book One Vancouver program with his boyhood friend Larry Wong.  The Jade Peony was the perfect book and lent itself easily to create so many events to help make the book come alive for readers and participants.  We organized events for the library, coordinated with Asian Heritage Month, created “Jade Peony Tours” in Chinatown led by John Atkins, a reading at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens with pipa player Qiu Xia He of Silk Road Music.

But one of my favorite events was the “Dim Sum With Wayson Choy” for which Larry brought together friends of Wayson, that had inspired some of the characters to speak to the audience.  And Larry even surprised Wayson with a video greeting from Carole Shields, who was unable to attend due to cancer treatment.

But even with the impending death of Wayson's teacher, Carol Shields, few people knew about how close Wayson had come to death.  Jade Peony almost wasn't chosen because Wayson almost wasn't available. 

In July 2001, Wayson Choy suffered a combined asthma and heart attack that would put him in a coma.  He would later suffer a second heart attack in 2005.

Wayson's public talks are very accessible and intimate.  He shares openly his brushes with death, and his time in a coma, his discovery of issues about his adoption and birth parents.  Wherever he speaks, he always connects with the audience and they walk away touched by his generosity of spirit, knowledge and insight.

In 2002, the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop held their inaugural Community Builders Dinner during which Wayson and Paul Yee were both recognized along with special Community Pioneer Roy Mah.  Wayson told stories about being both intimidated and inspired by Roy Mah, the founder of Chinatown News.  It was a very special evening.  I was proud to be one of the event organizers, and especially to have pushed ACWW to hold an event to recognize Wayson's achievements.

In 2005, Wayson Choy's novel All That Matters, was a runner up for the 2004 Giller Prize.  With that came a whirlwind of more publicity tours and speaking engagements.  In the fall of 2005, he suffered a second heart attack.

As Wayson has been inspired, he in turn inspires others.  I am truly looking forward to reading “Not Yet.”

 Not Yet, by Wayson Choy

Wayson will be reading in the Vancouver area on

May 4th, 2009, 7pm

Tix $18/15

Capilano Performing Arts Theatre (2055 Purcell Way, North Van)

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