An immigrant’s story

A Cowherd in Paradise is the moving tale of Wong Guey Dang and Jiang Tew Thloo

Saanich author May Wong.

One Saanich woman is telling the tale of her parents, forced to live apart for 25 years because of Canada’s immigration laws.

“It needs to be told, it’s not frivolous, but I’ve also injected some human stories, that project the humanity,” said May Wong. “I didn’t intend it to be a book that condemns, but a book that shows what it was like for people, individuals.”

A Cowherd in Paradise is the moving tale of her parents – father Wong Guey Dang (1902-1983) and mother Jiang Tew Thloo (1911-2002). It tells the intimate family tale of her parents’ challenging marriage, years of separation because of Canada’s immigration laws and the ultimate Canadian reunion.

“I’m hearing that it’s a story that resonates with a lot of immigrants and it doesn’t matter if you’re Chinese,” May said. “It’s a story that is universal because Canada is made up of so many immigrants. People are moving around the world now, so it’s a story about adapting and finding a country to become your home and finding a new and better life. I’m hearing that people are starting to identify with it … it’s been really heartening to hear that.”

A Cowherd in Paradise, published by Brindle and Glass, is nearly a decade in the making and launched at Silk Road in April. It’s been making the rounds of readings and media since.

She was invited to read at Word on the Street in Vancouver this September.

“I know that my parents would be proud of me,” May said.

Did you know?

In 2006, the prime minister apologized to the Chinese people for the legislated discrimination created by Canada’s head tax laws in the first half of the 20th century, acknowledging the consequences it had on their families.