Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Jade Peony: Being Chinese in Vancouver

The Jade PeonyThe Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In preparation for our trip to Vancouver, BC, last summer, I looked up books about Vancouver. Wayson Choy was one of the most frequently mentioned authors. I find that Canadian authors are not very widely read in the U.S., and I've found many Canadian gems.

The novel is divided into three sections, each telling the unique perspective of three siblings growing up in the Chinatown of Vancouver. It touches on many issues of race, family, rivalry, the battle between the old ways and the new ways, discrimination, war, and homosexuality.

I found many parts of the novel interesting (for example, the young girl's unique friendship with an older, disfigured Chinese man, or the affair between the Chinese girl and the Japanese boy), but it dragged in other parts. In some sections Choy included far too many characters for the reader to follow. I didn't get the same feeling of place as I did in reading Vancouver.

I have Choy's autobiography out of the library, but I'm not sure whether I'll read it just yet. This book didn't grip me enough as it could have.

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