Denise Chong is the 2017/18 Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary. An internationally-published author of four works of literary non-fiction, she is best known for her family memoir, The Concubine’s Children, a Globe and Mail best seller for 93 weeks. Her other books include The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, The Photograph, and the Vietnam War and Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance. Named an Officer of the Order of Canada for writing books “that raise our social consciousness, she has written stories that span generations and explore the geopolitics of our time.
The Girl in the Picture:
The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph and the Vietnam War (about the so-called napalm girl) tells of how her iconic photograph of war-time suffering came to be. The story is as much a vivid depiction of every day life in the south of Vietnam and of the aftermath of war, as it is a meditation on the havoc that war wreaks on the lives of people who do not invite it, and the awfulness of chance that comes with it.
The Concubine’s Children
The Concubine’s Children is the story of a family cleaved in two for the sake of a father’s dream. In 1913, Chan Sam left an “at home” wife in China to earn a living in “Gold Mountain.” Eleven years later, May-ying, the wilful, 17-year-old concubine he bought, sight unseen, travels to join him where she labours in tea houses of west coast Chinatowns to support the family in Canada, and the one in China. It was the concubine’s third daughter, the author’s mother, who unlocked the past for her daughter whose curiosity about some old photographs ultimately reunited a family divided for most of the last century. Heartfelt and beautifully written, The Concubine’s Children is an inspiring story of the sacrifice that tore a family apart and the love that bound them back together.