Wayson Choy, 1939-2019
It is with great sadness that Douglas & McIntyre notes the passing of Wayson Choy (1939-2019).
In 1995, D&M had the honour of publishing’s Choy’s debut novel, The Jade Peony, an inter-generational saga about an immigrant family—the Chens—during the Depression. It spent six months on The Globe and Mail’s national bestseller list, won the Trillium Book Award (shared with Margaret Atwood) for the best book by an Ontario author, and won the City of Vancouver Book Award. It was also an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year and was a CBC Canada Reads selection in 2010. It has never been out of print, and over 100,000 copies have been sold. The Literary Review of Canada declared The Jade Peony one of the one hundred most important books in Canadian history.
Choy was born and raised in Vancouver and attended the University of British Columbia. He moved to Toronto in 1962, and in 1967 started teaching English at Humber College. Although best known for his considerable literary talents, Choy also served as a volunteer for various community literacy projects and AIDS groups, and he served for three years as president of Cahoots Theatre Company.
In 1999 Choy’s first memoir, Paper Shadows, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, and was the winner of the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. All That Matters, a companion novel to The Jade Peony, won the Trillium Book Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. In 2009 he released to wide acclaim Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying.
Choy was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2005 and in 2015 he received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding BC literary career.
Wayson Choy died at his home in Toronto on April 28, 2019, at the age of eighty.