By Maurice Gallant
Award-winning Canadian author Paul Yee will speak at Vancouver Island University on Monday (Oct. 19) about his latest work, A Superior Man and his writing career that has spanned more than three decades.
Much of Yee’s work has been devoted to young readers with memorable books such as the 1996 Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Ghost Train. Whether the stories are about the Chinese in Asia or North America in the past or present, Yee’s books are peopled by embattled characters who must overcome obstacles fashioned by other humans, nature, fate, or a combination of all three.
Yee’s upbringing played a major role in his choice of material. In the website http://learner.org, Yee is quoted as saying that when he was growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the early sixties, he “was surrounded by plenty of Chinese images.”
During this period, he was “yearning to move away from the neighborhood,” but later he was drawn back to his culture and would go on to write, as he notes on his website, about his “world — the world of immigrants, racial minorities, and different histories.”
Yee’s bibliography for his latest book includes historical work such as Saltwater City: An Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver.
A Superior Man is his first novel for adults, but it is not his first foray into adult-oriented writing. In A Superior Man, Yee returns to frontier B.C., the setting for some of his most memorable young adult fiction. But from the opening pages, in which the reader is immersed in a colourfully gritty scene in 1885 Victoria, it quickly becomes clear that this is a novel for a more mature audience.Readers are taken on a journey with the main character, Yang Hok, a gambling hall bouncer. He may be undeniably physically and mentally tough, but does he possess the moral strength to gain the redemption he seeks and become a superior man?
Find out about this character’s journey and other characters as well as the author himself on Oct. 19 at VIU, 2:30 p.m. in room 203, building 200.