Wayson Choy

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Wayson Choy
Choy Way Sun[1]

(1939-04-20)April 20, 1939
DiedApril 28, 2019(2019-04-28) (aged 80)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia

Wayson Choy CM (崔維新 Pinyin: Cuī Wéixīn ; Jyutping: Ceoi1 Wai4-san1) (April 20, 1939 – April 28, 2019) was a Canadian novelist.[2] Publishing two novels and two memoirs in his lifetime, he is considered both one of the most important pioneers of Asian Canadian literature in Canada,[3] and an important figure in LGBT literature as one of Canada's first openly gay writers of colour to achieve widespread mainstream success.[4]

Early life[edit]

Choy was born in Vancouver in 1939.[2] A Chinese Canadian, he spent his childhood in the city's Chinatown. Choy graduated from Gladstone Secondary School and went on to attend the University of British Columbia, where he studied creative writing.[2] He learned later in life that he had been adopted, which formed part of the basis for his memoir Paper Shadows.[5]


Choy published a number of short stories while studying creative writing at university, with one of his stories appearing in the annual Best American Short Stories anthology, but after graduating he devoted himself primarily to teaching, resuming writing only later in life.[6] Choy moved to Toronto in 1962, taught English at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate (1966–1967), then taught at Humber College from 1967 to 2004.[2] He continued to teach at the Humber School for Writers, and served as president of the Cahoots Theatre Company.[7]

Choy was the author of the novel The Jade Peony (1995) which won the Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award.[2] In 2010, it was selected as one of five books for the CBC's annual Canada Reads competition, where it was defended by physician Samantha Nutt.[8]

His memoir Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood was published in 1999.[5] Written about his childhood within the Chinese Canadian community in Vancouver, the book explores both his discovery that he was adopted and his process of coming to terms with being gay.[9] It won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction,[10] and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction at the 1999 Governor General's Awards.[11]

In 2001, Choy suffered an asthma attack, which led to him being placed in a medically induced coma for 11 days during which he also suffered cardiac arrest.[12] He remained in hospital for four months to recuperate and recover with physiotherapy.[12] In 2005, he had a second heart attack, and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.[13]

His second novel, All That Matters, was published in 2004,[14] and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.[2] All That Matters won Choy's second Trillium Book Award in 2004.[2]

In 2005, he was named a member of the Order of Canada.[15]

In 2009 Choy published Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying, his second and final memoir about dealing with the life-threatening health challenges.[16]

In 2015 he received the George Woodcock Award, the lifetime achievement award for writers from British Columbia presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada and the Vancouver Public Library.[17]

Three recently published monographs have featured chapters on Choy's publications up to Not Yet; these are: John Z. Ming Chen's The Influence of Daoism on Asian-Canadian Writers (Mellen, 2008), John Z. Ming Chen and Wei Li's A Study of Canadian Social Realist Literature: Neo-Marxist, Confucian, and Daoist Approaches (Inner Mongolia University Press, 2011), John Z. Ming Chen and Yuhua Ji's Canadian-Daoist Poetics, Ethics, and Aesthetics (Springer, 2015).




  • Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood – 1999
  • Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying – 2009 ISBN 978-0-385-66310-6


  1. ^ Daniel E. Slotnik, "Wayson Choy, 80, Whose Books Are Windows on Chinese-Canadian Life, Dies". The New York Times, May 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Canadian Encyclopedia "Wayson Choy". The Canadian Encyclopedia, April 6, 2008.
  3. ^ "Wayson Choy, bestselling author of The Jade Peony, dies at 80". Toronto Star, April 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "On Queer / Asian / Canadian Critique". Canadian Literature, 227 (Winter 2015), pp. 191-193.
  5. ^ a b "When a stranger calls". Quill & Quire, June 1999.
  6. ^ "Wayson Choy's life and work". Daily Xtra, October 18, 2006.
  7. ^ "Cahoots Theatre Projects". Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.
  8. ^ "Crash course in CanLit; Canada Reads will mean a lot more to you if you've read the books". Vancouver Sun, February 27, 2010.
  9. ^ "Play it again, Wayson". National Post, October 16, 1999.
  10. ^ "Wilfrid Laurier University announces that Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood has won the 2000 Edna Staebler Award". Canada NewsWire, October 12, 2000.
  11. ^ "Governor-General's award nominees". Vancouver Sun, October 20, 1999.
  12. ^ a b "'Being human is worth something'; Wayson Choy reflects on life - and brushes with death". Montreal Gazette, May 16, 2009.
  13. ^ "Trailblazing Vancouver-born author Wayson Choy dies". The Georgia Straight, April 28, 2019.
  14. ^ Michael Redhill, "Hot dogs, sandwiches with chopsticks". National Post, October 16, 2004.
  15. ^ "Governor-general announces 82 new appointments to the Order of Canada". Montreal Gazette, August 31, 2005.
  16. ^ "Unspiritual Awakening; Wayson Choy forgoes melodrama in book about his brush with death". Calgary Herald, May 3, 2009.
  17. ^ "Wayson Choy wins Woodcock Award". Daily Xtra, June 15, 2015.

External links[edit]