May 4, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Denise Chong is an internationally-published author of literary non-fiction. She began her working life as an economist with the federal government and went on to become a senior advisor in the office of then prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Her best known of her books, which portray the intersection and play on individual lives of the forces of history, politics and economics, is her family memoir, The Concubine’s Children, a national bestseller for 93 weeks. In 2013, Denise was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for “writing books that raise our social consciousness.”
Drawing parallels between her own experience, and selected excerpts from her published books, Denise’s talk will provoke our thinking about identity so that, in turn, it might inform our approaches to the goals of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and society.
There will be no charge as Gowlings WLG has graciously offered to sponsor this lunch. Please register in advance so that we may order the appropriate amount of food. Feel free to bring a friend!
Denise Chong will be selling copies of her books and available for signing. Denise Chong’s other books:
The Girl in the Picture. On June 8, 1972, a nine-year-old girl, severely burned by napalm, ran from a misplaced air strike over her village in South Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph—one of the most unforgettable images of the war and of the twentieth century—was seen around the world. The Girl in the Picture is at once a riveting personal story about Kim Phuc, a victim of war and later, under the Communist regime, a tool of propaganda, and a groundbreaking social history that offers a rare view of everyday life in Vietnam both during and after the war.
Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship. Denise Chong tells the story of a man who humiliated a repressive regime in front of the entire world, and whose daring gesture informs our view of human rights to this day. Despite his family’s impeccable Communist roots, Lu Decheng, a small town bus mechanic, grew up intuiting all that was wrong with Mao’s China. As a young man he believes truth and decency mattered, only to learn that preserving the Chairman’s legacy mattered more. Lu’s story reads like Shakespearean drama, peppered with defiance, love and betrayal. His steadfast refusal to acquiesce comes to a head, but not an end, with his infamous defacing of Mao’s portrait during the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square.
Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance. A collection of short stories of the earliest Chinese settlers in and around Ottawa, who made their homes far from any major Chinatown. Many would open cafes, establishments that once dotted the landscape across the country and were a monument to small-town Canada. This generation of Chinese immigrants lived at the intersection of the Exclusion Act in Canada, which divided families between here and China, and 2 momentous upheavals in China: the Japanese invasion and war-time occupation; and the victory of the Communists, which ultimately led these settlers to sever ties with China. This book of overlapping stories explores the trajectory of a universal immigrant experience, one of looking in the rear view mirror while at the same time, travelling toward an uncertain future. Intimate, haunting and powerful, Lives of the Family reveals the immigrant’s tenacity in adapting to a new world.
Venue: Al forno bakery and cafe