A profile of Janie Chang by Elliot Chan. An excerpt.
Published in Ricepaper 18.1, Summer 2013
New Town Bakery and Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown roared with conversations and kitchen clamour, filling the dining area with a familiar ambient. As a plate of dumplings arrived, Janie Chang perked up in her seat, smiled and insisted that we share. “You are supposed to share when you are Chinese,” she said.
It was this old habit that fuels Chang’s writing. Her need to share the stories her father had told her and to help it pass on to the next generation of eager listeners, the same way it was handed down to her. But another driving force for Chang’s debut novel Three Souls, published by Harper Collins in August 2013, is guilt, a simple emotion that can linger for a lifetime. “I had the benefit of growing up and listening to those stories,” she said, “and having a strong sense of family continuity. My nieces and nephews never got that chance. I documented them. Spoken word is an ephemeral medium, if you don’t document them, then they will never know those stories.” With a fear of remorse leering over her, writing became the moral thing to do.
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