The Book That Changed Your Life: Lindsay Wong

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      The Word Vancouver festival’s annual celebration of all things literary is getting set to present its 2019 edition, which will take over venues around town starting September 24, and end on September 29 with a huge array of panels, talks, readings, and more at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch. At the heart of the fesitval is, as always, a wide-ranging roster of authors.

      The Straight approached a group of these writers and asked them to describe their most their most significant experiences as readers. Which books fired up their desire to become authors themselves? Which ones resonated in a life-changing way?

      Here’s what Vancouver’s Lindsay Wong told us. Wong is the author of the much-praised 2018 memoir The Woo Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. She’ll discuss her work at 1:50 p.m. on the Non-Fiction Stage, and at 2:45 on the Community Stage, on September 29 at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      Tenth grade smelled like durian fruit combined with hopelessness and despair—a nasty combination. I hated school and learning felt horrible. I would rather eat an eight-legged cockroach than spend an hour in math class. In creative writing, we were introduced to Evelyn Lau’s memoir Runaway: Diary of A Street Kid, and I could immediately relate to Lau’s turbulent home life. Her rawness, unbridled anger, and edgy truth-telling astonished and moved me, offering a glimpse of a possible future in the written arts. 

      Reading Lau was like staring at my teenage self in a high-end department-store dressing room. My reflection appeared shinier and more sophisticated: Lau was a much more accomplished, intelligent, and confident writer than I was at her age. Like me, she was a Chinese girl from Vancouver, but she had succeeded and transcended family expectations and mental illness. I wanted to be her: a bad-ass author who wrote bad-ass books.

      On September 29, at Word Vancouver, I’ll be sitting on a panel with my role models: the brilliant Evelyn Lau, Yasuko Thanh, and Rita Wong. We’ll be discussing mentorship in our lives and careers. These women are all incredibly talented authors that I’ve read and admired long since I was a student. I’m thrilled and honoured to share words, thoughts, and space with such literary giants.