Vancouver author and Asian Canadian community leader Jim Wong-Chu has died, following a stroke suffered earlier this year.
Wong-Chu – who was born in 1949 and immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in 1953 with his aunt, eventually settling in Vancouver – is best known for co-founding the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop and its quarterly literary magazine, Ricepaper. He also had a hand in establishing the literASIAN writing festival and the Asia Canadian Performing Arts Resource Centre.
On the writing front, Wong-Chu edited and contributed to a number of anthologies, including Strike the Wok, Many-Mouthed Birds, and Swallowing Clouds. His 1986 title, Chinatown Ghosts (Arsenal Pulp Press), became the first published poetry collection by a Chinese Canadian. “It was his first and only collection, however, because he spent the next three decades working to mentor and promote countless other Asian Canadian writers,” says Arsenal Pulp publisher Brian Lam. “One of Jim’s most recent discoveries was Catherine Hernandez, whose debut novel Scarborough won the ACWW’s Emerging Writers Award. The success of writers like Catherine and so many others is a real testament to Jim’s contribution to the Asian-Canadian writing and publishing community.”