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.