Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dim Sum Stories Author Larry Wong at literASIAN 2013

22Dim 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 Asiaperformed 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: or

Terry Watadata Brings Nikkei Manga-gatari to literASIAN 2013

terry_watada_headshotDavid HT Wong’s Escape to Gold Mountain is just one of many great new graphic novels to come from Asian Canadian authors.  Terry Watada will be launching the first Japanese Canadian graphic novel at literASIAN 2013 in November, organized by the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW).   How do we deliver Nikkei historical information in an engaging and creative manner? One vehicle might be the Japanese manga genre – although it must be noted that not all youth are drawn to it.

Nikkei Manga-gatari traces and ties together three generations of Nikkei history and culture in an engaging visual format.  The inspiration for this project was the immensely popular 1983 manga titled Oishinbo that dealt with Japanese food and cooking. Written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by manga artist, Akira Hanasaki, it has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. On the surface, the manga is about the exploits of newspaper writers trying to track down the ‘ultimate menu’ that reflects the best in Japanese cuisine. Each volume focuses on an essential ingredient and gives the reader detailed social, cultural and historical information.

nikkeiEach story in Nikkei Manga-gatari illuminates the humanity of each Japanese Canadian generation. The Issei story follows a Nikkei soldier of World War I through his exploits before, during and after the battle of Vimy Ridge while the Nisei story looks at the lead-up to WWII and the internment experience.  Finally, the Sansei story looks at a sansei’s discovery of his past and its implications for his life.”

Based out of Toronto, Terry was able to put the manga stories together in a relatively short period of time. The bigger challenge was finding a Japanese Canadian artist willing to take on the task – ideally a yonsei artist who would use this opportunity to learn more about our community’s legacy.

On Friday November 22, 3.00-5.00PM at UBC Learning Exchange, Terry Watada will be giving a workshop called Writers Beware: how to avoid scams, vanity press and find happiness as a published author.

Terry is one of the pioneers of Asian Canadian writing, with publications that include Kuroshio: The Blood of Foxes, and three books of poetry, Daruma Days; and Bukkyo Tozen: a History of Buddhism in Canada (non-fiction).  He maintains a monthly column in the JCCA Bulletin.  His archives of books, records, manuscripts, and significant artifacts have been collected as the Terry Watada Special Collection and housed in the East Asian Library, Robarts Library, University of Toronto.  Most recently, he was presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. 

Banana Boys’ Terry Woo coming to literASIAN Writers’ Festival November 21-24

wooIt’s hard to believe, but we’re only a couple of months away from the long-awaited return of Terry Woo to the Asian Canadian literary stage.  The author of of Banana Boys will be the featured author and workshop instructor at literASIAN: a Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing.  Banana Boys is a novel about five Chinese Canadians, “Bananas” (read: yellow on the outside, white on the inside), caught in between two cultures which do not seem to accept them fully. Not quite Chinese and not really Canadian, they stumble through stories, situations, incidents, interactions that are seemingly mundane, but upon closer examination, ultimately explore the nature of identity, and reveal the possibilities within themselves.

Alienated, frustrated and neurally-overactive, the story takes them through a complicated and sometimes bewildering sea of relationships, traditions, values, technological revolution, pop-culture and social change. They struggle with the trials and tribulations that modern Canadian society poses to all marginals, generally finding ignorance and misunderstanding from virtually every source except each other.  Terry will be offering a once in a lifetime workshop, How to Succeed in Writing by Kinda-Sorta Trying on Saturday November 23, 1.00-3.00PM.  Mark you calendars.

Denise Chong Comes to Vancouver for literASIAN 2013 – Book Launch of ‘Lives of the Family’

Long time Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) member and supporter Denise Chong will be launching her latest book Lives of the Family at literASIAN 2013.  As the international bestselling author of The Concubine’s Children, Denise Chong returns to the subject of her most beloved book, the lives and times of Canada’s early Chinese families.

In 2011, Denise Chong set out to collect the history of the earliest Chinese settlers in and around Ottawa, who made their homes far from any major Chinatown. Many would open cafes, establishments that once dotted the landscape across the country and were a monument to small-town Canada. This generation of Chinese immigrants lived at the intersection of the Exclusion Act in Canada, which divided families between here and China, and 2 momentous upheavals in China: the Japanese invasion and war-time occupation; and the victory of the Communists, which ultimately led these settlers to sever ties with China. This book of overlapping stories explores the trajectory of a universal immigrant experience, one of looking in the rear view mirror while at the same time, travelling toward an uncertain future. Intimate, haunting and powerful, Lives of the Family reveals the immigrant’s tenacity in adapting to a new world.

Information about the book:

Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop hosts Ann Shin’s book launch of The Family China as part of literASIAN 2013

Have you heard yet?  The Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop will be hosting Ann Shin’s book launch of The Family China as part of literASIAN 2013, Nov 21-24.   The Family China is a book of poems about the sense of belonging, about the tenuous ties we make across borders both international and internal.

The Family China, Ann Shin’s second book of poems, examines the decentering experiences of migration, loss and death, and the impulse to build anew. In five suites threaded through with footnote-like fragments that haunt and ambush the text like memories, the book accrues associations, building and transforming images from poem to poem, creating a layered and cohesive collection that asks daring questions about how we define ourselves.

These poems grapple rawly and musically with the profound messiness of human relations; their candour consoles and instructs. The quandaries in The Family China are deeply recognizable. Strung up between fragility and resilience, between naïve hope and domestic disillusionment, between an untenable nostalgia for the pastoral and a deep unease with the global, the voice of these poems is nevertheless determined to find some scrap of a song we can sing in common.

“... This short, dazzling collection of poems contains a universe—nothing short of North American life in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Somehow it is all here, joyously offered up, birth, death, and everything in between, including the suspect investment schemes of the heart (and the bank), the modern war in relationships and families, the dark-light, pastoral dream of childhood, the carried-over costs of immigration and exile...” – Karen Connelly

Ann Shin x-rays the ecstasy and the elegiac of the everyday… [her] poems are ravenous and nourishing.” —George Elliott Clarke

CBC Broadcast of Belonging – Ann Shin reads earlier version of the poems from The Family China (the collection was previously title Belonging)

Smashed: poetry and the family china – interview on The Sunday Edition of Ann Shin by Michael Enright, June 16, 2013 – scroll down to “Treehouses, Donna Neufeld becomes a doctor at 48 and Canada: Whose history is it?”


– See more at:

Canadian-born Chinese writers on tour to promote translated works in China

jadeThere are over 40 million overseas Chinese scattered abroad in every corner of the world and at least a million or more in Canada alone. With many regularly returning to China to visit their ancestral home and the recent relaxation of visa requirement with the Approved Destination Status agreement between China and Canada multiplying the number of Chinese citizens visiting Canada, this continuing trend has created a renewed curiosity of North American Chinese history and experiences.

This interest has taken a bold step forward with the Chinese language translation and publication of the most celebrated and important works by award-winning Canadian-born Chinese writers. These translated works include Denise Chong’s Concubine’s Children, Judy Fong Bates’ at the Dragon Café, Wayson Choy’s Jade Peony, SKY Lee’s Disappearing Moon Café and Paul Yee’s Ghost Train and The Curses of Third Uncle. These popular works have been used as part of curriculum and teaching texts by a wide range of high school and university level educational institutions and considered canonized literature.

For the first time, the Chinese public in China can purchase and enjoy the unique and wonderful stories depicting the struggles and survival of generations of Canadian Chinese pioneers.

Denise Chong’s Concubine’s Children, published by Chongqing Publishing House has been in circulation since the beginning of January and has already garnered much praise and attention from popular book club for readers sites such as

The remaining four Chinese Canadian writers are published by Nankai University Press. Based in Tianjin, China, Nankai University is the alma mater of former Chinese Premier and key historical figure Zhou Enlai and is regarded as one of the top class universities in China.

From the Canadian Embassy in China is sponsoring a four city book tour to promote these newly translated works by Canadian-born Chinese writers. The tour will begin in Guangzhou and will travel to Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing.

Three of the five translated writers, Denise Chong, SKY Lee and Judy Fong Bates will be featured authors and will be giving readings and answering question about their works to the public. They are accompanied by poet, Jim Wong-Chu, a founder of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop.

SKY Lee says, “I am so excited that Chinese readers in China shall be exposed to our unique Chinese Canadian history. It’s a very rich heritage that can only be told by storytellers who were the direct descendants of a very old and proud community of overseas Chinese. Our original stories give immense emotional depth to the lone sojourner struggling to survive in the wilderness of the Gold Mountains.”

Three among the five writers, Wayson Choy, SKY Lee and Paul Yee are currently embroiled in a legal dispute with book publisher, Penguin Canada Books Inc. with allegations of plagiarism over its publication of Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues.

Toronto-based legal firm, Fasken Martineau’s May M. Cheng, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, claims that the case is making its way through the court system and no resolution is anticipated until 2015. She states that contrary to rumours, the Chinese Canadian writers are resolute in seeking a fair and just settlement to their case.