News & Events Blog

Wayson Choy Confirmed as Sage Hill Faculty in 2015

Sage Hill is thrilled to announce that Wayson Choy is confirmed as a member of the faculty in 2015! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about how his diverse personal experiences have impacted his novels and memoirs.





Wayson Choy was born in Vancouver, BC in 1939. At the age of 56, during the publicity tour for his first novel, The Jade Peony, Choy discovered that he had been adopted. This revelation inspired his memoir Paper Shadows in which he describes his experiences growing up in the working-class world of Vancouver’s old Chinatown. All That Matters, a companion novel to The Jade Peony, won the Trillium Book Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize. Alarmingly framed by Wayson Choy’s two brushes with death, his memoir Not Yet is an intimate and insightful study of one man’s reasons for living. Choy lives in Toronto where, for many years, he taught English at Humber College, and creative writing in the Humber School for Writers. Wayson Choy was named a member of the Order of Canada in August 2005 for his contribution to arts-writing.

Photo credit: Robert Mills

2015 Dates for programmes announced

Spring Poetry Colloquium

with Don McKay

May 15-28, 2015


Summer Workshops in fiction, poetry, non-fiction & memoir

July 20-30, 2015

Application deadlines and pertinent details will be posted in the very near future.

Alissa York Confirmed as Sage Hill Faculty in 2015

Sage Hill is excited to announce that Alissa York is confirmed as a member of the faculty in 2015! This presents a great opportunity for writers to work with a critically acclaimed author.


Alissa York’s internationally acclaimed novels include Mercy, Effigy, (short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize) and, most recently, Fauna (short-listed for the Toronto Book Award). A new novel is due out in 2016. York is also the author of the short fiction collection, Any Given Power, stories from which have won the Journey Prize and the Bronwen Wallace Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in such periodicals as The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire and Eighteen Bridges. York has been teaching and mentoring writers since 2007, working with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, The Banff Centre’s Wired Writing Studio, the Toronto Public Library and Diaspora Dialogues. She has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, artist Clive Holden.

Denise Chong Confirmed as Sage Hill Faculty in 2015

Should you decide to visit Sage Hill, you will have the rare opportunity to work with fascinating writers and what is more, remarkable people. Certainly, Denise Chong is these things and more, and Sage Hill is delighted to confirm her as faculty in 2015!


Denise_ChongDenise Chong, a third-generation Canadian of Chinese descent, grew up in Prince George. She earned a BA in Economics at the University of British Columbia (1975) and an MA in Economics and Public Policy at the University of Toronto (1978). Denise Chong is renowned as a writer and commentator on Canadian history and on the family. After graduating from UBC, Chong moved to Ottawa for a career in the public service at the Department of Finance (1975-80). From there she moved to the Prime Minister’s Office, as a special advisor on British Columbia issues. In 1981 she became senior economic advisor in the PMO, and worked closely with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and was a trailblazer for the more inclusive public service that was to come. With the end of the Trudeau era (1984), Chong left the public service to become a professional writer. In 1985 she moved to Beijing with CTV correspondent Roger Smith, whom she married in 1989.


A 1987 visit to her mother’s ancestral village in Guangdong inspired Chong’s best-known book, The Concubine’s Children (1994). It is the story of her grandmother May Ying (the concubine) and her mother Hing, and their life in the Chinatowns of British Columbia. Much of that history had been hidden from Chong’s own generation. The book also tells the story of the family members who were unable to leave China, and lived there through the Japanese occupation, civil war, the Communist takeover, land reform, and the Cultural Revolution. It is a story of courage, survival, struggle, and eventual triumph. The Concubine’s Children won a number of awards, including the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the City of Vancouver Book Award. Translated into many languages, it touched a chord among readers far beyond the Chinese-Canadian world.


Denise Chong’s second major book, TheDenise_Chong_The_Girl_in_the_Picture Girl in the Picture (2000), is the biography of Kim Phuc, a Vietnamese girl who was terribly burned in a napalm attack in 1972. The iconic photograph of the naked girl running down a road had a huge influence in the growth of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the US. Chong’s book covers Kim Phuc’s life from her childhood to her terrible injury, her slow recovery, and her eventual settlement in Canada. Both The Girl in the Picture and The Concubine’s Children were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction.


Egg on Mao (2009) is the story of Lu Decheng, a young mechanic from Liuyang, China, who spent 16 years in prison for a defiant gesture – throwing paint-filled eggs at Chairman Mao’s portrait above Tiannanmen during the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The book examines, as Chong explains, the “human part of human rights,” the ability to recognize what is good and decent and to demand respect and fairness. Although Egg on Mao tells the story of an ordinary man in China driven to do something extraordinary, Chong’s book is ultimately the exploration of what it is to be human.



Lives of the Family (2013), which is set mainly in Ottawa and small towns nearby, includes the stories of Chinese immigrant families who, rather than settling in the established big city Chinatowns of Vancouver or Toronto, struck out on their own in small town Canada. There, they often ran the local Chinese laundry or cafe, and typically, along with their “bachelor” staff, were a town’s only Chinese. The end of the Anti-Japanese War in China, the repeal of a Canadian law banning Chinese immigration and the Communist victory in China brought wives, sons and daughters among this country’s newest immigrants, to reunite with husbands and fathers they hardly knew. Some came under false identities, some as “cash on delivery” brides. But for all the isolation of these smaller places, they rewarded an immigrant’s ambition and afforded the kindness of neighbours.

25th Anniversary Celebration

Faculty Readings - Summer 2014 - final