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Paper Shadows: A Memoir of a Past Lost and Found
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Paper Shadows: A Memoir of a Past Lost and Found

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  192 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
From the author of the popular and widely acclaimed novel, The Jade Peony, comes this new autobiographical exploration of past and present, culture and selfhood, history and memory, immigration and family life--in other words, the modern-day collision of Eastern and Western experiences and worldviews.

Three weeks before his 57th birthday, Choy discovered that he had been ad
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 5th 2001 by Picador (first published October 1st 1999)
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Mar 27, 2014 Peter rated it it was ok
Choy begins this book with the phrase "This memoir is a work of creative non-fiction." Choy's candor is appropriate since a major part of this book deals with his early life, and, as such, his memory could be coloured by early photos of himself dressed as a cowboy, or with the photo of the family's pet dog or early school and family photos. To what extent these photos were given a narrative context by his parents and to what extent he clearly himself remembers with specific detail, and to what e ...more
Jun 02, 2008 Jeannette rated it liked it
I liked this book because it takes place within my neighbourhood. The author actually lived in the same block and on the same side of the street where I currently live. The only difference is there used to be houses here in the 1940s and now there's just a gated co-op. The author bought hand-scooped ice cream at Benny's Market and I go to Benny's for their great sourdough bread. Same family, a different time.

I really liked reading about my neighbourhood and Vancouver's early Chinatown but this b
Aug 11, 2015 Courtney rated it really liked it
I've heard the author speak at a few conferences and I finally bought three of his books. I read this one first. It has many endearing tales of his childhood that were nice to read. However, as a whole there are some stories that break the themes and flow of the memoir. After all, you can't possibly tell every cool story that ever happened (that's what bars are for). I could have lived without knowing about his difficult to train dog. The best stories were about his family. The ending was a whir ...more
Aug 29, 2009 Vivienne rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Chinese-Canadian memoir in the style of Angela's Ashes. Recommended to my by my local librarian after I read Obasan, an account of a Japanese-Canadian woman born in Vancouver around the same time.

I have now read so many of Wayson Choy's memoirs I feel like we know one another - and I like him.
I wanted to like this book. I loved The Jade Peony, and I thought a memoir by Wayson Choy would be interesting. It had its moments, but there is a long stretch during which Choy describes his childhood, and some of the "events" he describes seem pointless and not particularly relevant. So what if he wet his pants? So what if his dog was hard to housetrain? I think this book could have used more judicious editing and a better overall sense of narrative. I almost gave up on it. I'm glad I didn't, ...more
Paula Dembeck
Jun 11, 2013 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing
The ongoing story of this boy and his family’s challenges trying to adapt to life in Vancouver. He relives experiences from his Chinatown boyhood, his encounters with bachelor uncles and cowboys, and his relationship with his parents, and their (at times) stormy marriage. He also learns, three weeks before he turns fifty seven, that he was adopted, a secret that had been kept from him, and had remained unknown despite the trip from China across the ocean to Gold Mountain.

The second in the series
May 02, 2014 Ellen rated it really liked it
It was fascinating to follow the details of life in Vancouver's Chinatown.
Aug 21, 2010 Ruthie rated it it was ok
I adored Choy's first 2 novels - Jade Peony and it's sequel, and the basis of this memoir sounded so intriguing- after discussing his first novel on the radio the author gets a phone call telling him heat his parents were not his real parents. What follows is is search for the truth, but first we get his memoirs. Sadly they are in dire need of an editor. There is too much repetition and too much time spent on boring details, on the other hand, intriguing details are given a bare mention and neve ...more
LovePreet Riar
Jun 06, 2015 LovePreet Riar rated it did not like it
Jan 30, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it
If you like Amy Tan, Lisa See, or others in the same genre, you'll enjoy Wayson Choy's memoir of living in Vancouver's Chinatown in the 40s and 50s. He gives a clear picture of the struggles that the recent and not-so-recent Chinese immigrants faced back then. Growing up as an only child to hard working parents, Wayson learns much later on in life that he was adopted. He admits that he probably could have investigated further into the lives of his birth parents, but he chose not to.
Bev Haskins
Jun 21, 2015 Bev Haskins rated it liked it
I am not overly fond of memoirs anyway, but learning about life in Chinatown in early years was quite interesting.
Jul 13, 2012 Phredric rated it it was ok
Read this after enjoying Jade Peony and All that Matters. It didn't really work for me. He opens with the fascinating revelation that at 57 he discovers he was adopted after a woman called him on a radio show. He picks this up again towards the end of the book but in between are a series anecdotes: some of them are charming and funny (the uncle who inadvertently took him to a burlesque show, but many just left me puzzled as to why they'd been included.
May 10, 2014 Johanna rated it it was ok
I didn't really get into this book. It was a rambling non-story.
Sep 07, 2011 Peter rated it liked it
this book is a memoir. it gives you an insight into the china town of the the mid to late nineteen forties. for a memoir this book has lots of twists and turns. i would recomend this book higher but i feel to do so the book would have to be streched a bit.
Mar 20, 2012 Nancy added it
I enjoyed this book and learning about being Chinese
during WW2 in Vancouver and insights to what it was like for
his father and grandfather. The Chinese were not always treated well.
I particularly liked his stories of when he was quite young.
Jul 27, 2010 Alexis rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I love Wayson Choy's writing. I enjoyed reading the history about Chinatown and the Chinatown families more than I enjoyed some of his memories. Also loved the details about Vancouver.
Jan 03, 2013 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I loved all the same things I loved about The Jade Peony and All That Matters -- the description of family, the explanation of ritual, the Vancouver setting.
Jon Cassie
Nov 20, 2012 Jon Cassie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Choy is a writer of gentle artistry who can evoke the sounds, smells and experience of long vanished places with craft. Can't wait to read more.
Mar 17, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful memoir. I read it so long ago, I need to go back and re-read it.
Apr 11, 2009 linda rated it really liked it
A great memoir of growing up in Vancouver's Chinatown.
Lesia Waschuk
Lesia Waschuk marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2016
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Born in Vancouver in 1939, Wayson Choy has spent much of his life engaged in teaching and writing in Toronto. Since 1967, he has been a professor at Humber College and also a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers. He has appeared in Unfolding the Butterfly, a full-length bio-documentary by Michael Glassbourg, and was recently a host on the co-produced China-Canada film In Search of Confu ...more
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