Where: Vancouver Public Library (Central Branch), 350 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1—Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye room, lower level
When: Thursday, September 21, 6:30pm–8:30pm
Moderated by Winnie Cheung.
“Scarborough is raw yet beautiful, disturbing yet hopeful … It gives voice to people whose stories are often unheard, making this an important book that deserves a wide audience.”
Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighbourhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; and Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education.
And then there are the three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino boy who lives under the shadow of his father’s mental illness; Sylvie, Bing’s best friend, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home to live in; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.
Scarborough offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighbourhood that refuses to be undone. About Catherine Hernandez.
“Filled with enchantment and intrigue”
In early-twentieth-century Shanghai, an ancient imperial dynasty collapses, a new government struggles to life and two girls are bound together in a friendship that will be tested by duty, honour and love.
Abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish estate outside Shanghai, seven-year-old Jialing learns she is zazhong—Eurasian—and thus doomed to face a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. The Yang family, new owners of the estate, reluctantly take her in as a servant. As Jialing grows up, her only allies are Anjuin, the eldest Yang daughter, and Fox, an animal spirit who has lived in the courtyard for more than three hundred years. But when a young English girl appears and befriends the lonely orphan—and then mysteriously vanishes—Jialing’s life takes an unexpected turn.
As Jialang grows into womanhood during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, she must find a way to survive political intrigue, jealousy, forbidden love and even murder. Through every turn she is guided, both by Fox and by her own strength of spirit, away from the shadows of her past toward a very different fate. “Rich with detail and a fascinating interplay between the spiritual and earthly realms, Chang’s second novel explores whether it is possible to overcome your past” (Booklist). About Janie Chang.
“A masterful and gripping novel from an undeniably talented writer”
—Globe and Mail
On a sunny May morning, social worker Jessica Campbell sorts through her mother’s belongings after her recent funeral. In the basement, she makes a shocking discovery — two dead girls curled into the bottom of her mother’s chest freezers. She remembers a pair of foster children who lived with the family in 1988: Casey and Jamie Cheng — troubled, beautiful, and wild teenaged sisters from Vancouver’s Chinatown. After six weeks, they disappeared; social workers, police officers, and Jessica herself assumed they had run away.
As Jessica learns more about Casey, Jamie, and their troubled immigrant Chinese parents, she also unearths dark stories about Donna, whom she had always thought of as the perfect mother. The complicated truths she uncovers force her to take stock of own life.
Moving between present and past, this riveting novel unflinchingly examines the myth of social heroism and traces the often-hidden fractures that divide our diverse cities. About Jen Sookfong Lee.
“. . . seamlessly interweaves history and memory in this fascinating narrative . . . compelling.”
–CD Alison Bailey, Dept of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
Eight-year-old Akihisa Takayama escapes from Japanese-ruled Manchuria, after the Russian invasion of 1945, to Chinese Taiwan. But life in Taiwan is as repressive under the brutal dictatorship of the Kuomintang as it was in Japanese Manchuria. In the 1960s, now a physician, and named Charles Yang, he ultimately escapes the White Terror of Taiwan for the United States, and from there goes on to Canada to become one of the first Taiwanese Canadians in Vancouver. His experiences illuminate the repression in Taiwan, and the ongoing dispute between Communist China and Taiwan over the meaning of “One China.” This is a rare personal account of the little known histories of Manchukuo and Taiwanese immigration to North America. About Julia Lin.