Denise Chong
  • Denise Chong

  • Date of birth: June 09, 1953
  • Born: in Vancouver, Canada.

  • Description: Denise Chong, writer, public servant, political advisor (b at Vancouver, BC 9 June 1953). Denise Chong, a third-generation Canadian of Chinese descent, grew up in Prince George. She earned a BA in Economics at the University of British Columbia (1975) and an MA in Economics and Public Policy at the University of Toronto (1978). Chong began her writing career as a journalist on the Ubyssey, the UBC student newspaper. Denise Chong is renowned as a writer and commentator on Canadian history and on the family.

    A 1987 visit to her mother's ancestral village in Guangdong inspired Chong's best-known book, The Concubine's Children (1994). It is the story of her grandmother May Ying (the concubine) and her mother Hing, and their life in the Chinatowns of British Columbia. Much of that history had been hidden from Chong's own generation. The book also tells the story of the family members who were unable to leave China, and lived there through the Japanese occupation, civil war, the Communist takeover, land reform, and the Cultural Revolution. It is a story of courage, survival, struggle, and eventual triumph.

    The Concubine's Children won a number of awards, including the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the City of Vancouver Book Award. Translated into many languages, it touched a chord among readers far beyond the Chinese-Canadian world. The book celebrates the contributions immigrants have made to a country that may not have welcomed them warmly, but did allow them to make their way in life. Chong's work has stimulated other writers to embark on family histories, giving the stories of how their families settled in Canada. Denise Chong herself is a dedicated, though not a flag-waving, nationalist; her feelings are captured in her 1994 speech "Being Canadian," which has been widely anthologized.