The Jade Peony

Paperback | October 1, 1995

byWayson Choy

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Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and ë40s provides the setting for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid and intense reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant family. They each experience a very different childhood, depending on age and sex, as they encounter the complexities of birth and death, love and hate, kinship and otherness. Mingling with the realities of Canada and the horror of war are the magic, ghosts, paper uncles and family secrets of Poh-Poh, or Grandmother, who is the heart and pillar of the family.

Wayson Choy''s Chinatown is a community of unforgettable individuals who are neither this nor that, neither entirely Canadian nor Chinese. But with each other''s help, they survive hardship and heartbreak with grit and humour.

The Jade Peony was a 2010 Canada Reads Selection.

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From Our Editors

In the Chinatown of 1940s Vancouver, three children of Chinese immigrant parents nurture dreams of making their own mark on the world around them. Jung-Sum is an adopted son who fights in the boxing ring — and wrestles with uncertainty about his own sexual identity. Jook-Liang dreams of escaping the confines of tradition to become the next Shirley Temple, and Sekky, the youngest child, surprises...

From the Publisher

Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and ë40s provides the setting for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid and intense reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant family. They each experience a very different childhood, depending on age and sex, as they encounter the complexities of birth and death, love and hate, kinship and otherness. Mingling with the realities ...

Wayson Choy's first novel, The Jade Peony, was co-winner -- with Margaret Atwood's Morning in the Burned House -- of the 1995 Trillium Award for the best book by an Ontario resident. It also won the City of Vancouver Book Award. The Jade Peony spent 26 weeks on the Toronto Globe & Mail bestseller list and placed Number 6 on its 1996 Year End National Bestseller List for Fiction. Born in Vancouver in 1939, Wayson Cho...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.77 × 5.02 × 0.72 inPublished:October 1, 1995Publisher:Douglas And McIntyre (2013) Ltd.

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550544683

ISBN - 13:9781550544688

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettable This was an unforgetable book. I am sure it will stay with me for a very long time.
Date published: 2011-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely read I live in Vancouver and this book appealed to me on that level as well as the wonderful narrative. This is a great book told through the eyes of children.
Date published: 2010-02-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wishing for More Jade Peony takes place in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1930’s and 40’s and is told through the eyes of three siblings of varying ages. While the book tackles what could be some very interesting topics (immigration, discrimination, death/after-life, homosexuality, abortion, forbidden love) it never goes deep enough. Just when I expected the book to become riveting, to finally connect to the characters and their struggles the story switched to a different characters point of view. I found the first character particularly tiresome because nothing of substance seemed to happen after the first 20 pages of her story. Choy is a good writer, he takes you where you need to be and you can see the world through the characters eyes with his vivid descriptions. However, without going deeper into his characters experiences the book falls short for me. I liked it. I wouldn’t re-read it, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Date published: 2010-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from to the anonymous reviewers So, what book did you two read? 'Pain'? 'When will something happen?'? Certainly there was pain for the characters, but the only sort of reader who might feel pain other than empathic would be the illiterate reader. I guess that takes care of Mr. Pain. As for something happening, let's see: a subtext of death on every page and explicit death on many; Manchuria, Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, the detention of Japanese Canadians, children growing up in racism and poverty, backroom abortion, etc. Yep. Illiteracy must be the explanation for Mr. Nothing Happens.
Date published: 2010-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Touching Historical Story This book left me breathless. My friend has been pitching it to our bookclub for years and we finally decided to vote it in. What a great story! Wayson uses the voices of children to give us a sample of what it was like to be a new Asian immigrant in Canada. The history of that time, the discrimination- everything is voiced through these three children in an innocent and experiential way. Wayson is a wonderful writer who has picked up the fabric of that time. A wonderful book to read - I'm going to read his other books now!
Date published: 2008-05-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Intense Pain Intense pain which an innocent soul should not be forced to endure. I have finally experienced torture as I flipped smelly pages, bracing myself against the ever stronger blows in order to reach that final point where I can hurl the book at the wall and curse it with all my might. Boring, strange, etc.- please don't read it. I do not want you to share in my sufferings.
Date published: 2007-05-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from When will something happen? After hearing so many positive comments about this book I was really looking forward to it only to be disappointed. There was so much promise of potential story lines, characters to be explored. Yet Choy never delved deep into any of them. I wanted to care for these characters, but found I was completely disinterested and distanced. The book club notes at the back of the book compares this book with the style of Carol Shields and Alice Munro. Choy does not match their eloquence or mastered story telling. I guess if you enjoy standing in one place with very little scenery around you then you might enjoy this book.
Date published: 2006-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Looking through Chinese Eyes I was first lent this book when i was 19. I finally started reading it at age 27. The Jade Peony is a vivid tale told through the different perspectives of 3 children of a Chinese family. The reader truly gets a sense of the character's emotional turmoils, triumphs, and realities. Choy strongly shows depth in his characters, as they grow as individuals; as Chinese-Canadians. Accurately depicts the cultural ambiguities that many children of immigrant families face, on the road acceptance by their family and their peers, both Oriental and not. Wayson Choy hits the nail on the head of what it's like to accept the challenges and intricacies of being a Child of an Asian Family.
Date published: 2003-08-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Jade Peony - An adoptive charmer When I first picked up Wayson Choy's first attempt at a novel, I already knew a little bit of the background. Mr Choy had visited my highschool to talk about it prior in the year. I found that his novel was touching, it being told from three different points of view. Each told a different part of the overall story, and each from the characters point. The whole overall atmosphere it brought upon was that it was a sincere dystopia, but a perfectly harmonious one. Each character in their own right was different than the next. Once inside the 'Jade Peony', a wonderful mosiac of lives was painted. Stories from back 'home' and some from Canada, were told with such spendid candor that one felt that they were being told the story firsthand from the character himself.
Date published: 2000-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fond Memories Written about my generation, and in my general neighbourhood. If you grew up in the "East End" and you went toschool with, or knew chinese kids, I think this book can trigger good memoriesof your early childhood and youth.
Date published: 1999-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Jade Peony Set in Chinatown, Vancouver in the 1930s and 40s, this novel chronicles the lives of three children of a Chinese immigrant family. This novel brings to life the early days of this vibrant part of the city. The author's biggest achievement in this book is the way he is able to tell the stories so convincingly through the children's eyes. At times, the book is both breathtaking and heartbreaking as events unfold during the highly charged times of WWII.
Date published: 1999-01-06