Paul Wong (2021)
Edition of 500
Hardcover: Black linen with silver deboss
approx. 110 colour illustrations
29.85cm x 23.5cm x 1.59cm, 1kg
“Paul Wong’s Occupying Chinatown is deeply moving and subtly shocking. The life of Paul’s mother Suk-Fong is a kind of pilgrim’s progress of one young Chinese woman through a 20th century journey of deep despair and strange fulfillment. Her story focuses the life of a Chinatown, of alienation, of exclusion – all told in the context of one family’s struggle to communicate and make its bonds mean something, I am so glad that this book commemorates an exhibition which laid bare the eternal bonds of family, the personal cost of alienation and the salvation of identity.”
-The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson
Paul Wong’s Occupying Chinatown, is a beautifully detailed, limited edition hardcover book, fully bilingual in English and Simplified Chinese, focusing on several of Wong’s major artworks exploring Chinese-Canadian identity and his engagement with Vancouver’s Chinese communities. With full colour photos and documentation of Wong’s artwork as well as three original essays, Occupying Chinatown is an evocative exploration of language, amnesia, and cultural displacement, inspired by 900 letters sent to Suk-Fong Wong, Paul Wong’s mother, over the course of 65 years.
Within this remarkable 180 page cloth-bound book, Wong’s essay “Suk Fong, How Are You?” (淑芳你好嘛?) takes a closer look at the family histories contained within the letters, while Dr Christopher Lee’s essay “Reading Letters, Reading with Trust” (阅读书信，以信读信) reflects on the process of interpreting a selection of these letters with his students. Debbie Cheung’s “Private to Private to Public: A New Collective Experience of Chinatown” (推己及人：唐人街新的共同体验) details Wong’s year-long residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden through which these private letters offered an opportunity for the local Chinese community to consider their shared stories and their rapidly changing Chinatown.
Below: Vancouver Biennale presents Occupying Chinatown pop-up exhibition and book signing, Nov 6, 2021. Photo credit Paul Wong and Christian Yves Jones.
Occupying Chinatown finalist for 2022 City of Vancouver Award
The Occupying Chinatown (OC) book was a finalist for the 2022 City of Vancouver Book Award. The OC Book was one of five books in the running to win a $3,000 prize funded by Publishing Reserve, which was established in 1977 as a permanent legacy for Vancouver writers and publishers.
The annual City of Vancouver Book Award has been recognizing authors of excellence of any genre since 1989. These authors contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Vancouver‘s diversity, history, unique character, or the achievements of its residents. Award was presented as part of the 2022 Vancouver Writers Fest.