Paper Shadows

1 07 2016

In the spirit of Canada Day, here’s a Canadian writer who I admire very much! Like most people, I first read The Jade Peony and loved it instantly. I particularly loved the hint that one of the brothers was gay, in addition to it being about a Chinese family in Canada. So I expected his memoir, Paper Shadows, to be equally memorable.

Maybe my expectations were too high. I did find the secrets of the family to be fascinating and intriguing but I was disappointed that a lot of his childhood consisted of mundane activities that didn’t seem relevant to the greater family mysteries. The dog peed everywhere in the house? Well, that sucks but… Why did it need to be told? Some reviews have said that the book was in dire need of an editor and I wholeheartedly agree.

I was also surprised to learn that Choy is openly gay, a fact that is not touched on in the book (though there is a hint of it). It made me think about my own book and how our upbringings were so different despite both of us being first generation Chinese Canadians. In my query I’ve been sending to publishers and literary agents, I say something along the lines of how many memoirs by Chinese Canadian writers are immigration stories and that they are valuable and worthwhile — but they shouldn’t necessarily be the only stories we read. A lot of people tend to believe that growing up in Canada in modern times is easy and carefree, but that’s a na├»ve thought. My memoir shows otherwise. And I am passionate to do so.