Wayson Choy, novelist, memoirist, short-story writer (b at Vancouver 20 Apr 1939). Raised in Vancouver's Chinatown by both his adoptive parents and his extended community, Wayson Choy was an only child whose father, a cook for the Canadian Pacific Ocean Steamship Line, was often away at sea. Choy attended the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the late 1950s to study creative writing under the tutelage of Earle Birney. He began teaching English at Toronto's Humber College in 1967, where he was also a faculty member of the Humber School of Writers.
Although he experienced some success with his early short stories, Choy did not return to writing in earnest until 1977, when he again enrolled in UBC's Creative Writing program. His story, "The Jade Peony," was later expanded into a full-length book, and was published as a novel in 1995. The Jade Peony is an intimate portrait of an immigrant family living in Vancouver during WWII. Told through the eyes of the Chen family's three youngest children, this novel vividly captures the lived reality of Chinatown from the perspective of these first-generation Canadians. After spending six months on the Globe and Mail bestseller list, The Jade Peony won the 1996 City of Vancouver Book Award. Choy shared with Margaret Atwood the 1996 Trillium Book Award.
Following the success of his first novel, Choy published his second book, Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood, in 1999. Winner of the Edna Staebler Creative Non-Fiction Award in 2000, Choy's memoir was also nominated for a Governor General's Award, and was named as a 1999 Globe and Mail notable book of the year. His third book, All That Matters (2004), revisits the story of the Chen family, this time from the eldest son's point of view. Kiam-Kim immigrates to Canada as a small boy, and grows up struggling to contend with the intergenerational pressures and cultural anxieties that come with his new life in Vancouver. All That Matters was awarded the Trillium Book Award for 2004, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
In 2000, Michael Glassbourg produced a documentary film on Choy's life, entitled Wayson Choy: Unfolding the Butterfly. Choy himself hosted Searching for Confucius (2005), a film exploring the life of this ancient philosopher. Choy has lived in Toronto since 1962. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2006.