Award-winning titles for Asian Heritage Month

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Posted: 
May 7, 2018
Written by: Josephine Versace , Language Portal of Canada

I recently discovered that May is Asian Heritage Month. (In fact, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to that effect in 2002.) So when I decided to write a post on Asian-Canadian authors, I wondered where my research would take me. It turns out Canada has a lot to be proud of, and I have a lot of good reading to catch up on!

If you’re interested in discovering some of our award-winning Asian-Canadian authors, here (in no particular order) are just a few of the titles I’ve included on my list.

1. Obasan, by Joy Kogawa

Based on the author’s own experiences, Obasan tells the story of a Japanese-Canadian family sent to an internment camp in British Columbia during World War II. The novel won numerous awards when it was first published in 1981. Today, it’s often required reading in Canadian (and American) literature courses, so I figure it should be required reading for me, too!

2. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam

This collection of short stories won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. Need I say more? It’s based on the author’s experiences in medical school. (Yes, he’s also an emergency physician in Toronto.) Intrigued? I am!

3. Chorus of Mushrooms, by Hiromi Goto

A winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (1995) for Best First Book from Canada, Chorus of Mushrooms explores the lives of 3 generations of Japanese-Canadian women in a small prairie town. When I saw it described as a “groundbreaking feminist and magic realist novel,” I knew it had to be on my list!

4. Ru, by Kim Thúy

Winner of the 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language fiction and the 2015 CBC Canada Reads contest, Kim Thúy’s semi-autobiographical novel describes the experience of a Vietnamese-born woman. Like the author, Ru’s narrator leaves a privileged childhood in war-torn Vietnam, crosses the South China Sea, reaches a refugee camp in Malaysia and finally settles in Quebec. Sounds like a good read to me!

5. Kimchi, by Ook Chung (available in French only)

Ook Chung is a Québécois author who was born in Japan, was raised in Montreal, is of Korean descent and writes in French. Where else in the world would you find such a background but in Canada? He explores this unique identity in his novel Kimchi, which won the 2002 Canada-Japan Literary Award.

6. Do Not Say We Have Nothing, by Madeleine Thien

The Chinese Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, classical music and present-day Vancouver. Just some of the elements you’ll find in Thien’s 2016 novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which, by the way, won the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction and the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Looks as if it should be on everyone’s reading list!

Want to discover more fascinating titles from award-winning writers? Try our quizzes: Know your Asian-Canadian authors 1 and Know your Asian-Canadian authors 2! And if you know any other interesting Asian-Canadian authors, please share their names with our readers in the comments section below!

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About the author

Josephine Versace

Josephine has worn many hats in her career as a language professional. She has worked as a translator, editor, writer, reviser and now as a language analyst for the Language Portal of Canada. In addition to English and French, she speaks Italian and dabbles in Spanish. She enjoys communicating with people through her work on the Portal.

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