Choy, Wayson (1939-2019)

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Choy, Wayson (1939-2019)

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  • Choy Way Sun

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Wayson Choy, a Chinese Canadian author and teacher was born Choy Way Sun in Vancouver, British Columbia on 20 April, 1939 and raised in the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood. He was educated at the University of British Columbia, where he studied creative writing. He relocated to Toronto in 1962 and began teaching, first at Burnhamthorpe Collegiate (1966-67), before working as one of the original members of the Humber College teaching faculty in 1967, where he remained until 2004. After his retirement, Choy continued as an instructor at the Humber School for Writers.

Choy’s first novel, The Jade Peony was published in 1995. It won the Trillium Book Award and the Vancouver City Book Award. In 1999, this was followed by his first memoir, Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood, which received numerous accolades, including being shortlisted for a Governor General award. His 2004 novel, All that Matters received a Trillium Book Award and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. In 2005, Choy was named a member of the Order of Canada.

In 2009, Choy’s final memoir, Not Dead Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying was published. In 2010, The Jade Peony was included in the CBC’s Canada Reads competition. In 2015, he was presented with the George Woodcock Award, a lifetime achievement award for writers from British Columbia. He passed away in Toronto on 28 April, 2019 at 80 years old.

A lifelong advocate for his community, Choy is remembered as a trailblazing figure in Chinese Canadian literature, and LGBTQ literature, as one of the first openly gay writers of colour to achieve widespread success in Canada’s mainstream.


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