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Pages Unbound Book Launch | Finding Mr. Wong by Susan Crean

November 5 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Pages UnBound and Talon Books are pleased to present Susan Crean’s moving memoir of her friendship with Mr. Wong, the cook and housekeeper to her Irish Canadian family for two generations. The eminent writer and educator Carrianne Leung will interview Susan Crean about the book and her thoughts about race and class, which arise from reading Finding Mr. Wong. Starting the evening off will be music by the award-winning musician and composer Donald Quan, whose work encompasses blues, world, folk, rock and Indigenous music.

About the Book
Reminiscing, Crean writes, “I grew up in Mr. Wong’s kitchen …”

A Chinese Head Tax payer hired by Crean’s grandfather in 1928, Wong Dong Wong remained on the job following Gordon Crean’s death in 1947. Mr. Wong eventually retired in 1965 and moved to Chinatown. Crean’s homage weaves the various strands of her memories of and discoveries about Mr. Wong during the last 25 years of his life; she travels the streets and histories of Chinatowns in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada, and twice she visits Guangdong, China, where she located his home village, found descendants of his father’s brother, and learned the beginning of his story: orphaned as a newborn, then brought to Canada by his uncle, Wong YeeWoen.

At the core of the narrative are Crean’s observations of the blurred lines between numerous socio-cultural dynamics (worker/employer, family/servant, child/adult). She particularly considers relationships that cross race as well as class. Beginning with the partnership formed by Crean’s grandfather and Mr. Wong – a partnership whose long alliance and evident mutual regard guaranteed Wong’s presence in Crean’s own story – she relates her own experience grappling with racism as a small child in the Vancouver of the 1950s and 1960s. Crean’s exploration also considers memory and its role in the writing and researching of a book such as this. She meditates on the ways socio-cultural issues are represented (or not) in film and literature, ultimately combining fiction with historical recreations and memoir.

Finding Mr. Wong is an important contribution to a growing body of writings that illuminate the lives of people silenced or otherwise negated by myopic history.

About the Author
Susan Crean was born in Toronto, Ontario, and is of Scots-Irish descent. Her articles and essays have appeared in magazines and newspapers across Canada, and she is the author of seven books, the first, Who’s Afraid of Canadian Culture, appearing in 1976. Her most recent book, The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr, was nominated for a Governor General’s award and won the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (B.C. Book Prizes) in 2002. Crean currently lives in Toronto.

About Carrianne Leung
Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE/University of Toronto. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo published by Inanna Publications and her collection of linked stories, That Time I Loved You, released in 2018 by Harper Collins Canada were both nominated for the Toronto Book Awards.

About Donald Quan
Donald Quan is a Canadian musician, composer and producer of world music and film scores. The veteran musician was a member of the legendary band Lighthouse early in his career. He has performed as a multi-instrumentalist with singer Loreena McKennitt, performance artist Meryn Cadell and blues musician Derek Miller. Quan has toured China and Japan with longtime collaborators Ron Korb and George Gao playing music dubbed New Chinese Jazz, a blend of jazz improvisation and traditional Chinese melodies. He has been a major collaborator in the Canadian world music scene by working with organizations such as the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, the percussion group Samba Squad, M-Do Kathak Dance Company and renowned First Nations choreographer Santee Smith (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre). For nearly a decade, his space Musideum hosted countless performances as well as offering rare instruments for sale.

Quan’s film music company Q Music Inc. has provided music services to hundreds of television, film, radio and multi-media productions including the popular television shows Relic Hunter, Mutant X, Starhunter, the War Next Door, the Indigenous TV drama Moccasin Flats and the CBC documentary China Rises. Quan is also responsible for the world music-tinged theme for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning.

About Pages UnBound
Pages UnBound is a response to a shifting cultural landscape in which art, literature and performance are colliding and collaborating in increasingly fruitful ways. It’s a series dedicated to presenting and celebrating all the forms that cultural practice now takes, inviting artist and audience alike to experience creations from different angles and to explore the contemporary world through new lenses.

Every Pages UnBound event is a singular experience—part entertainment, part education. We specialise in interviews, where the creative process is interrogated in rich and meaningful ways.
Whether it’s a novel, a multimedia presentation, a video, a chamber play, a concert, or a sui generis creation, we work with artists to take their work off the page into the immediacy of the moment. Like its precursor, Pages Books & Magazines, an award-winning independent shop which was a central presence in the Queen Street arts scene, Pages UnBound strives to enhance cultural life in Toronto.

About Talonbooks
Talonbooks publishes authors of international stature, writing in the literary genres of poetry, fiction and drama, as well as non-fiction books in the fields of ethnography, environmental and social issues, literary criticism and selected in titles in architecture, regional geography and history and photography.

The works published by Talonbooks continue to make a difference to the world we live in. They have contributed to the establishment of protected wilderness areas and the redress of social injustices; they have given a public voice to First Nations peoples; and they have been recipients of many prestigious national and international awards for arts and letters.

Details

Date:
November 5
Time:
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category: