‘The Jade Peony’ by Wayson Choy

This perfectly constructed story emerged out of a writing workshop Choy took with Carol Shields. She put the names of colours on scraps of paper and had each student select one at random to use in the short fiction they’d write. Choy plucked pink. He was staying with his aunts. They had peonies blossoming in their Vancouver garden. Some of them were pink. The colour appears several times in the story, the pink eyes of a white cat, the eyes like pale fire of the albino juggler, the pink, blushing towards red, of the piece of jade that grandmother Poh Poh gives to her grandson Sek-lung, a talisman, that after her death seems to beat “like a beautiful cramped heart.”

Often anthologized, appearing as chapter 9 in the novel The Jade Peony, Douglas and McIntyre 1995. Available to read online at sundayat6mag)