Synopses & Reviews
A moving portrait of three generations of the Chan family living in Vancouver's Chinatown
Sammy Chan was sure she'd escaped her family obligations when she fled Vancouver six years ago, but with her sister's upcoming marriage, her turn has come to care for their aging mother. Abandoned by all four of her older sisters, jobless and stuck in a city she resents, Sammy finds herself cobbling together a makeshift family history and delving into stories that began in 1913, when her grandfather, Seid Quan, then eighteen years old, first stepped on Canadian soil.
The End of East weaves in and out of the past and the present, picking up the threads of the Chan family's stories: Seid Quan, whose loneliness in this foreign country is profound even as he joins the Chinatown community; Shew Lin, whose hopes for her family are threatened by her own misguided actions; Pon Man, who struggles with obligation and desire; and Siu Sang, who tries to be the caregiver everyone expects, even as she feels herself unravelling. And in the background, five little girls grow up under the weight of family expectations. As the past unfolds around her, Sammy finds herself embroiled in a volatile mixture of a dangerous love affair, a difficult and duty-filled relationship with her mother, and the still-fresh memories of her father's long illness.
An exquisite and evocative debut from one of Canada's bright new literary stars, The End of East sets family conflicts against the backdrop of Vancouver's Chinatown - a city within acity where dreams are shattered as quickly as they're built, and where history repeats itself through the generations.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Lee's poignant debut saga covers three generations of a Chinese-Canadian family in Vancouver. Their story begins when Chan Seid Quan emigrates to Vancouver in 1913 at 17, but the novel opens 10 years after his death at the age of 94, when his granddaughter, Samantha, leaves graduate school and a lover in Montreal to return to Vancouver to take care of her mother. Samantha frozen with indecision about her future and resentful that she's burdened with responsibility she didn't choose passes her days contemplating her family's past. Polished, nonchronological set pieces offer glimpses of hardship, alienation and despair in Vancouver's Chinatown. Seid Quan returns to China at intervals separated by years, just often enough to marry, father three children and return to Canada after each visit a lonelier man. His youngest child, a son named Pon Man, relocates to Vancouver in 1951 at 15, and eventually marries and has five daughters, the youngest of whom is Samantha. Seid Quan's wife, Shew Lin, survives war and occupation while caring for her three children, and eventually arrives in Vancouver. She's tough, particularly on Pon Man's wife, Siu Sang, who suffers postpartum depression. The present ceaselessly mirrors the past in this enlightening look at Vancouver's slice of the Chinese diaspora." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The truth that imbues every line of Jen Sookfong Lee's The End of East
is so coruscating that we must look away. And yet she will not let us, and so we cannot."- Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times
bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean
"An emotional powerhouse of a novel...calls to mind Ishiguro's Booker Prize winner The Remains of the Day. This is a book that can sit on a shelf of novels by Ondaatje, Atwood, and Laurence."- Halifax Chronicle Herald "An impressive debut novel...delivered in lyrical language radiating with apt metaphors. Evocative...an enrapturing exploration of identity that proves that family is unshakeable."- Kirkus Reviews "Beautifully crafted...an homage to Amy Tan's generational tales. Provocative and deeply moving."- The Baltimore Sun
"Beautifully guides us through the heart of the Chan family and the Chinese immigrant experience--charting dreams, regrets, hopes, and triumphs along the way. Jen Sookfong Lee's storytelling instincts are honest, unflinching, and fearless."- Amy McKay, author of The Birth House "A wise, challenging, and heartbreaking novel...Jen Sookfong Lee is a novelist with the eye and ear and soul of a poet."- Gail Anderson-Dargatz, author of A Recipe for Bees "Compelling and complex...richly layered...The End of East is fine prose."- The Globe and Mail
"Poignant...polished...an enlightening look at Vancouver's slice of the Chinese diaspora."- Publishers Weekly "Impressive in its accomplished prose and its ambitious three-generational scope. Lee's talent is undeniable."- National Post
"Strong, evocative...a wonderful novel."- Booklist
"Well-crafted...an accomplished debut."- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
In the tradition of Amy Tan and Jhumpa Lahiri, a moving portrait of three generations of family living in Vancouver's Chinatown From Knopf Canada's New Face of Fiction program--launching grounds for Yann Martel's Life of Pi and Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees--comes this powerfully evocative novel. At age eighteen, Seid Quan is the first in the Chan family to emigrate from China to Vancover in 1913. Paving the way for a wife and son, he is profoundly lonely, even as he joins the Chinatown community. Weaving in and out of the past and the present, The End of East pieces together the spellbinding tale of Seid Quan's family: his wife Shew Lin, whose hope for her family are threatened by her own misguided actions; his son Pon Man, who struggles with obligation and desire; his daughter-in-law Siu Sang, who tries to be the caregiver everyone expects, even as she feels herself unraveling; and his granddaughter Sammy, who finds herself embroiled in a volatile mixture of seduction, grief, and duty. An exquisite debut of isolation, immigration, romance, and insanity, The End of East sets family conflicts against the backdrop of Vancouver's Chinatown--a city within a city where dreams are shattered as quickly as they're built, and where history repeats itself through the generations. It is a bold and accomplished debut from one of Canada's brightest new literary stars.
About the Author
Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in Vancouver's East Side, where she now lives with her husband. Her poetry, fiction, and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines, including The Antigonish Review, The Claremont Review, Horsefly, and Jasmine. A finalist for the Stephen Leacock Poetry Contest, she is a Knopf Canada New Face of Fiction for The End of East.