Not Yet by Wayson Choy

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60,000 words
Finished books available


Canada: Doubleday, Spring 2009
Canada (French): Les Editions XYZ, 2012
Australia & New Zealand: Scribe Publications
Croatia: Naklada Ljevak


Wayson Choy (Photo: John Beebe)
(Photo: John Beebe)

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Wayson Choy
April 20, 1939 – April 28, 2019

Born and raised in Vancouver, Wayson Choy was Professor Emeritus at Humber College in Toronto, where he taught for forty years. During that time he was also active with Cahoots multicultural theatre company. In 1995 his first novel, The Jade Peony, based on the much-anthologized short story of the same name that he first wrote as a student in Carol Shields' creative writing class at the University of British Columbia, spent six months on The Globe and Mail’s national bestseller list, won the Trillium Book Award (shared with Margaret Atwood) for the best book by an Ontario author, and won the City of Vancouver Book Award. It was also an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year. It has never been out of print, and well over 100,000 copies have been sold. The Literary Review of Canada declared The Jade Peony one of the one hundred most important books in Canadian history.

In 1999 Choy's first memoir, Paper Shadows, was a finalist for the Governor General's Award, the Charles Taylor Prize, and the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, and was the winner of the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. All That Matters, a companion novel to The Jade Peony, won the Trillium Book Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. In 2006 Choy was inducted into the Order of Canada. In 2009 he received the Harbourfront Festival Prize for "a substantial contribution to the world of books and writing." In 2009 he released to wide acclaim Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying. He also received the 2015 George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award.

Not Yet
A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying

by Wayson Choy


Not Yet coverFramed by Wayson Choy’s two brushes with death, Not Yet is an intimate and insightful study of one man’s reasons for living. In 2001, Choy suffered a combined asthma-heart attack. As he lay in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, his days punctuated by the beeps of the machines that were keeping him alive, Choy heard the voices of his ancestors warning him that without a wife, he would one day die alone. And yet through his ordeal Choy was never alone; men and women, young and old, from all cultures and ethnicities stayed by Choy’s side until he was well. When his heart failed him a second time, four years later, it was the strength of his bonds with these people, forged through countless acts of kindness, that pulled Choy back to his life.

Not Yet is a passionate, sensitive, and beautiful exploration of the importance of family, which in Choy’s case is constituted not through blood but through love. It is also a quiet manifesto for embracing life, not blind to our mortality, but knowing how lucky we are for each day that comes. Like Calvin Trillin’s Ask Alice and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Wayson Choy’s Not Yet tells a unique but universal story of the importance of human relationships to our very survival.

WAYSON CHOY ON THE WRITING OF NOT YET: “I thought this memoir of living and almost dying would be complex, difficult, that my memoir would be full of insecurities and dark psychological perplexities.  Instead, after much incubation and wondering, the storyteller in me took over:  In story, I found meaning.  I found myself somehow assured that there is more strength in living one’s life as everyday adventure, as an unfinished tale to be lived, one enlightened moment after another, than to live blindly chained to the idea that life simply ends.”


“Illness and recovery are sensitively and sensuously rendered, with candour, humour and authenticity. … It is a pleasure to have his continuing presence (haunted, though it is by the weight of the past and his own physical frailties) in our community of storytellers.”  — THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Not Yet is a powerful work, an account of a life almost lost, a questioning of how a life should be lived, and an inquiry into the role of the past and its impact on the present. It is a chronicle of finding oneself after the deepest of traumas, in the arms and eyes of friends. It is a work that blends tension and sadness with joy and contemplation. And it is a reminder, as if we needed one, of why Wayson Choy is beloved, as a writer and as a man.”  — OTTAWA CITIZEN

“Choy ranks among the finest writers in this country…. Not Yet is another building block in Choy’s astonishing, unique, ongoing multi-volume, multi-genre portrait of who he is and how he came to be himself.”  — MACLEAN'S MAGAZINE

“Choy has delivered a fine mantra for living well and enduring almost dying – twice.”  — MORE MAGAZINE

“Employing a spare, restrained approach, Choy depicts a dramatic series of events through an unexpectedly tranquil filter, highlighting themes of family, home, and the fragility of growing old. … Choy demonstrates that self-awareness about the body and its dangers cannot save you from every peril. In lovely prose, he captures the beauty and imperfection of being human.”  — QUILL & QUIRE


Saying goodbye to the beloved author of The Jade Peony

Click to view memorial tribute in Vancouver




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