❮Reading❯ ➺ The Jade Peony ➲ Author Wayson Choy – Motyourdrive.co.uk



10 thoughts on “The Jade Peony

  1. says:

    An easy and entertaining novel, if you re interested in Chinese culture you ll love this immigrant coming of age story Wayson Choy transports you to Vancouver s Chinatown circa 30 s early 40 s up to the outbreak of WW2 He does a beautiful job portraying a Chinese immigrant family, poignantly illustrated by the polar opposite personalities of grandmother Poh Poh and her westernized grandchildren Jook Liang the Shirley Temple wanna bee Jung Sum the adopted boy struggling with his awakening homosexuality and Kiam the essential 1st born male In Poh Poh s eyes all mo no no brains , born without an understanding of boundaries, neither Chinese nor Canadian She clings desperately to traditional Chinese ways, ways her grandchildren are equally determined to reject.Wayson shows a talent for strong characterization, grandmother Poh Poh s resonates view spoiler Pronounced ugly at birth, it s decided it would be pointless to bind her feet Her father, wishing for a son, spits at his wife and leaves them forever, prompting Poh Poh s sale into a life of servitude hide spoiler


  2. says:

    But there were good ghosts and bad ghosts, and you had to be careful not to insult the good ones nor be tempted by the bad ones And you had to know a ghost when you saw one. Wayson Choy, The Jade PeonyI don t often read immigrant narratives, and not because I don t think these stories are worth telling But I have to confess to finding a certain predictable sameness in these accounts I made an exception, however, for Wayson Choy s The Jade Peony, which was immediately recognized as an important book by critics upon its publication in 1995 Widely enjoyed by readers, the novel remained on Canadian bestseller lists for months The book is especially admired for its rich and its detailed evocation of a particular time and place in the history of Chinese Canadians Vancouver s Chinatown during the 1930s The experience of the Chen family, and their neighbors, is seen through the eyes of the family s three youngest children only daughter Jook Liang, adopted son Jung Sum, and the sickly youngest son Sek Lung The novel recreates an especially complicated and difficult time for Chinese immigrants In addition to the obvious economic hardships faced by the family, the Chen s are living in the shadow of the harsh laws enacted by the Canadian government to curtail Chinese immigration and to restrict the growth of their communities As World War II looms, the residents of Chinatown watch uneasily as their Japanese neighbors become the victims of officially sanctioned harassment and discrimination Readers should also keep in mind that The Jade Peony is Choy s first published novel Though beautifully written and peopled with memorable characters, I found the book to have a somewhat unfinished quality The stories of the three siblings, in my opinion, failed to weave together in a truly satisfying conclusion But The Jade Peony remains a beautiful, important book, deserving of its significance in recent Canadian literature.


  3. says:

    This one grew on me after I got used to its gentle, understated approach to coming of age issues in a Chinese immigrant family in Vancouver during in the 30 s We get a sensitive and universal exploration of the challenges of growing up combined with a fresh children s perspective on the conflicts between following traditions of their immigrant parents versus assimilation to Western culture in an urban multicultural society.As in Kingsolver s Poisonwood Bible , the novel uses the narrative approach of letting children deliver their overlapping stories in first person The book s three sections cover segments of the lives of three children a girl Liang, her older adoptive brother Jung, and her younger brother Sekky The dominant character in their young lives is the elderly grandmother, who cares for them while the father and mother work Despite the children s great respect for the traditional values of their grandmother, each moves in different ways toward success among their peers in the modern world Liang dreams of becoming a tap dancer, Jung wants to become a boxer, and Sekky is inclined toward excellence in school The fantasies and perceptions of each when they are young reveal wonderfully the struggles of kids to make sense of the adult world Each has a different take on the grandmother s belief in superstitions and ghosts and each finds a way to come to terms with bullies and discrimination in the society and at school The whole family is affected profoundly by the war between Japan and China in the late 30 s and then by the onset of World War 2 at the end of the book Like San Francisco, Vancouver had a large Japanese community which tragically came to be treated as enemies As in The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a doomed romance between a Chinese and a Japanese teenager figures in the story, in this case as a dramatic focus that caps off a novel with a broader and subtle overall scope.


  4. says:

    Set in Vancouver s Chinatown in the late 1930s and early 40s, The Jade Peony follows three children growing up in one family Jook Liang, the only sister Jung Sum, Second Brother and adopted and Sek Lung, Third Brother and sickly This is a time when the Chinese who came to BC to work on the railway through the Rocky Mountains, paying the infamous Head Tax to do so, are the elders in the Chinatown society Back home in China, the Japanese are steadily conquering land and reports of butchering and genocide create than tension between the Chinese Canadians and the Japanese Canadians of Vancouver exacerbated when the Japanese take Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Canadians are rounded up and put into camps.Against this landscape of poverty, fear, racism and anxiety the three children relate a few years each, times of joy and sorrow and family conflict Jook Liang becomes best friends with an old Chinese man who worked on the railway, who has crippled legs and looks like a monkey prompting five year old Liang to believe he is the Monkey King of legend They go to movies together and she tap dances like Shirley Temple to his applause Jung learns to box and finds himself with a growing, unwanted attraction toward wildboy Frank, and Sekky insists he can see his dead grandmother, Poh Poh, and becomes the only confidant of his neighbour s adopted daughter Meiying s secret liason with a Japanese boy.Written in the style of short stories, with grace, delicacy and a light touch, Choy opens up a period in Canada s history that the country is still ashamed of only recently has the government committed to paying back the Chinese immigrants the illegal head tax , when people died because the white locals didn t rush to save them they were resident aliens , even if born here, and had almost no rights.The new generation of Chinese Canadians are caught betwixt old China ways and westernised Canada ways, kept to tradition with the older generations belief in their ability to one day return to China, while their children want nothing than to be Canadian This is something that continues today, sometimes with seriously damaging side effects as children are torn between family tradition and a very different lifestyle.I have to say, that I was won over from the beginning by Liang s absorption with the Monkey King I grew up watching Monkey, with Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy, Horse and the beautiful priest Tripitaka played by a woman, hence all the sexual tension between him and Monkey yeah, we all wanted them to get it on , it was one of my favourite shows, and it was such a delight to find reference to the legend behind it here in this book.The light and graceful quality of the prose, as well as moments of irony and humour, balanced out the darker undertones of the novel, including the sad ending The setting and period felt very real, and it was great to be given the chance to understand and sympathise with a specific community like this, with all their flaws and faults, their generosity and acts of kindness, their determination and what drives them It s also a great story, a slice of Canada s history opened up, though I did struggle to keep up with the back and forth narrative, the non linear timeline, which sometimes confused me.


  5. says:

    Set in Vancouver, British Columbia, this novel follows four Chinese children and their experiences during World War II I enjoyed this novel very much Choy does a wonderful job relating the challenges Canadian born foreigners experienced during the war years.


  6. says:

    Chinatown of the 1940 s in 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 the rest of the family with his own quiet wisdom Taken from the Editors.As a born and bred Canadian and having lived here my entire life, I can only imagine what emigrating from another country must be like It makes me wonder how I would deal with the langugage barrier, the differences in culture and tradition, observing and obeying the laws of the land and that of a society very different from the one I came from But Wayson Choy makes my imagination come alive in this novel with well written and carefully chosen words that make you feel a part of the story I felt like I d been transplanted back to 1940 Vacouver and could almost hear, see and smell the time of that era.While the new family is trying to engraciate themselves into this new and modern life in Vancouver, their Grandmother Poh Poh who lives with them, is stuck in her past in a country where she came to believe that the old ways, the world of ghosts, omens and superstition, and the ancient lore and sometimes complicated remedies for illness are the only way to live When reading this novel we have to remember that this family s story plays out during the the war which also brings uncertainty and distrust to the newly arrived family How do they recognize friends from enemies How do they maintain their old ways and the culture of their homeland while trying to fit in and live peacefully in this new country The children, as the younger generation, wants to forget about the old ways and welcome and embrace their new world with open arms, but the older generation is set in their ways and afraid to turn their back on the traditions and beliefs they were raised with The Jade Peony is a moving story of memory and loss, hardship and heartbreak, of reconciling the past with the future and is achingly real.


  7. says:

    Being an immigrant myself, who came to Canada in the 80 s, I was interested in reading this book from a personal perspective Choy paints a rather grim picture of Chinese immigrants in Canada in the 1930 s bachelor men unable to bring their families across, deaths in labour camps built to construct the Canadian railway from sea to shining sea , resident alien status with no hope of ultimate citizenship, second class treatment during medical emergencies, immigrants relegated to ghettos or Chinatowns perhaps the segregation of immigrants is the genesis for a Chinatown and not the notion that Chinese like to hang out together.And yet by the 1980 s, the mood for immigration was much open and tolerant, and the new Chinese have enjoyed much success in this country I am glad that Choy captured this moment in time to remind us how far we have progressed as a nation.The perspective of a child is always a clever device to employ, especially when the adult world is the focus This view distorts our adult imperfections, it sees beauty behind physical infirmities as in the case of seven year old First Sister Jook Leong s attachment to the deformed Monkey King , it does not comprehend illogical adult actions eight year old Sek Lung s struggle to understand the secret adult whispers and the tragic result of Meying s romance with the taboo Japanese boy Kaz , and it fears the budding appetites in their emerging adult bodies Second Brother Jung Sum s fearful discovery of his attraction to Frank, the young boxer, in the heat of a fight.We also see the impact of war on the young First Brother Kiam wants to join the Canadian army even though he does not qualify as a resident alien Sek Lung practises war games with his toys and is an expert on military strategy and Japanese immigrant kids are suddenly considered the enemy Only Miss Doyle, the school teacher, treats all her students equally, perhaps a symbol of the Canada to come, even though she exerts military discipline in class, and reads aloud the letters of her dead brother who was blown up while trying to save lives Also brought into sharp focus is the superstition and cruelty of the old world that is never quite left behind Grandma Poh Poh was an abused child, is unable to display affection, openly proclaiming that girls are nothing , until Third Brother Sek Lung he with the sick lungs a play of words here is born and becomes her baby the bed wetting Jung Sum discovers his birth mother murdered by his father in Kamloops, and finds his sensuality awakened only when he gets a beating at the hands of his mentor Frank the ghosts that are supposed to roam the neighbourhood in China also inhabit Sek Lung when he sees his dead grandmother during various incidents And yet the children want to be Canadian while their parents tread the half and half world of the immigrant and grandma Poh Poh will always be Chinese.There is some predictability in the end, especially as this book is set in Vancouver We Canadian s are unable to escape the collective guilt for incarcerating our Japanese immigrant community during the war, and much has been written on this subject And sure enough, Choy zeroes on this event for his climax, in an otherwise episodic book The interesting twist is that the Japanese incident is viewed from a Chinese perspective and, for a change, the Chinese, the Canadians and the Americans are allies, for they had all been invaded by those Japs The children seem to understand this part of adult logic, which frightens me, and makes me wonder if we adult Canadians were behaving like kids during the Japanese incarceration Was this Choy s ultimate message that seems to get lost amidst all the other mini stories that make up this very easily readable and fluidly written book


  8. says:

    Lyrical and moving the opening words of the blurb for this book and I don t think I can say it much better This is one of those all too rare novels that truly transports you to another time and place, immerses you into a culture and a life experience that is far from your own So much so that finishing it is rather a rude awakening.The story is set in immigrant Vancouver, Chinatown in the 1940 s In the family home of three generations of a Chinese family, we meet the matriarchal grandmother, the worried and put upon parents and the children, through the eyes of whom the story is told Three of the children tell their tales in the three different sections of the book as they try to cope with growing up as Chinese and Canadian, being of the old world and the new, being both and yet neither The first to narrate is Liang the only daughter who struggles with her dreams of fame and film stardom alongside the loss of a childhood friend, mentor and hero Overshadowing her life is the constant reminder by her grandmother that she is as a girl child, useless to her family Jung the second to speak, the adopted second son of the family trains to be a boxer whilst repressing memories of his first family and trying to live up to his elder brother s example whilst coming to terms with his extremes of otherness Sek Lung is the last to speak and perhaps the most moving The youngest son and a weakling from birth, he documents the worlds decent into war and his palpable urge to be a part of the fighting He plays his war games with unceasing resolve as his parents worry and cry over the fate of their people half the world away and try to stop their eldest son from joining the fight Sek Lung lives in a simple world of school and play, where people fit neatly into the roles of good guys and bad, friends and enemies until he witnesses a beloved family friend and babysitter fraternising with the enemy a Japanese boy His boundaries blur as he gets to know the person beneath the appearance and tries to make sense of his newfound knowledge whilst protecting his friend The novel raises many issues of otherness, of third generation immigrants who are yet expected to adhere to the rules and superstitions of a land they ve never been to, of neighbours who must hate and ignore each other, of the pressures we put on our children It s a thought provoking beautifully written novel.


  9. says:

    Much to my delight, I was randomly assigned to read and defend Wayson Choy s The Jade Peony for a local Canada Reads gathering It was meant to be I had Wayson sign a copy of his 1995 novel for me just a few months ago when he was in Halifax for a reading of his most recent work, Not Yet A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying, and The Jade Peony has for many years been high on my favourite books list.The Jade Peony so eloquently combines the familiar with the unfamiliar The universal themes of coming of age, forbidden love, sexuality, racism, death and jealousy intertwined with the mysteries of Vancouver s Chinatown, the disgrace of being a girl child, the hardships endured by the first Chinese immigrants, and the loss and suffering as a result of Canadian immigration policies of late 19th and early 20th centuries.The book s appeal is certainly in part due to the story being told through the eyes of children The three young narrators straddle two worlds, old vs new, east vs west, and through their eyes we glimpse into the world of their Chinese born elders, filled with worry, secrets, symbols, ghosts, and magic, intertwined with a child s world of Eaton s dollhouses, Shirley Temple, Joe Louis and Tarzan They are an in between generation, sheltered in their Chinatown neighborhood, but with glimpses of life beyond their community boundaries.This story centres around family This is a somewhat cobbled together family, with a servant who is elevated to stepmother status even to her own blood children, however , an adopted second brother, a Chinese born first brother, two Canadian born siblings, the family s father and, most importantly, sharp tongued Poh Poh, the grandmotherly glue that binds everyone together Nevertheless, it is a family, and in the inscription in my copy of The Jade Peony Wayson wrote For Sara Family is who loves you If this novel isn t on every Canadian high school reading list, it ought to be It is an opportunity to delve into an often overlooked Canadian experience through the eyes of young narrators who take us to places most of us have never been or could even imagine.


  10. says:

    Finally finished dramatic ending , but I still can t figure out what it is about this book there is no high suspense plot, no huge character dramas for the most part, no adventure or quest or conflict propelling the book, but I can t put it down Really interesting cultural study, with great detail The first, and shortest, section with Liang is my favourite, the last one with Kiam was my second favourite I didn t like the Jung stories much.I still wonder why did he leave out first brother Kiam At first I thought it was because he was going to die, which he didn t Second, I thought it was because the children show the difference between Canadian Chinatown life vs Poh Poh s Old China life, and Kiam was very traditional so he wouldn t show the contrast However, by the end of the book he is countering his parents, showing them science vs old herbal remedies So I d still like to find out why.ETA He wrote a sequel with Kiam s story in it called All that Matters.


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The Jade Peony download The Jade Peony, read online The Jade Peony, kindle ebook The Jade Peony, The Jade Peony 006f985c85ae Beautifully Written It Renders A Complex And Complete Human World, Which By The End We Have Learned To Love The Boston Book ReviewChinatown, Vancouver, In The Late S And S Provides The Backdrop For This Poignant First Novel, Told Through The Vivid Reminiscences Of The Three Younger Children Of An Immigrant Chinese Family The Siblings Grapple With Their Individual Identities In A Changing World, Wresting Autonomy From The Strictures Of History, Family, And Poverty Sister Jook Liang Dreams Of Becoming Shirley Temple And Escaping The Rigid, Old Ways Of China Adopted Second Brother Jung Sum, Struggling With His Sexuality And The Trauma Of His Childhood In China, Finds His Way Through Boxing Third Brother Sekky, Who Never Feels Comfortable With The Multitude Of Chinese Dialects Swirling Around Him, Becomes Obsessed With War Games, And Learns A Devastating Lesson About What War Really Means When His Year Old Babysitter Dates A Japanese ManMingling With Life In Canada And The Horror Of War Are The Magic, Ghosts, And Family Secrets Of Poh Poh, Or Grandmother, Who Is The Heart And Pillar Of The Family Side By Side, Her Three Grandchildren Survive Hardships And Heartbreaks With Grit And Humor Like The Jade Peony Of The Title, Choy S Storytelling Is At Once Delicate, Powerful, And Lovely The Jade Peony Was Selected By The Literary Review Of Canada As One Of The Most Important Books In Canadian History In It Was Also An American Library Association Notable Book Of The Year In , And Was Winner Of The Trillium Award Shared With Margaret Atwood