25th Trillium Award

Trillium Testimonial: Peggy Blair

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This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Ontario's illustrious Trillium Book Award/Prix Trillium. To celebrate this silver milestone, Open Book has asked members of the literary community to tell us what they love about their favourite award-winning Trillium title. If you're looking for a recommended read (or re-read), follow these Trillium Testimonials on Open Book: Ontario from now until the winners of the 2012 award competition are announced. Today, author Peggy Blair tells us why she's chosen Wayson Choy?s The Jade Peony (Douglas and McIntyre), winner of the 1995 Trillium Book Award.

Open Book:

What do you love about this book?

Peggy Blair:

I remember being completely captivated by this book -- I read it in one sitting. Even secondary characters like Poh-Poh, the grandmother, who was still grasping onto the old ways, were fully and richly drawn. I think some of the most interesting stories are those set in times of turmoil and transition: it's why I love Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady series which is set mostly in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Choy set his book against the backdrop of World War II, but also in Chinatown. He managed to convey the view of the outsider and the insider at one and the same time by writing from the perspective of immigrant children. Beautifully drawn, complex characters. I loved it.


When did you first read it?


I read it shortly after it came out in the mid-90s. I often give books away, but this one's still on my shelves. It's a keeper.

Peggy Blair has been a lawyer for more than 30 years and is a recognized expert in Aboriginal law. She's a former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and is named in the Canadian Who?s Who. The Beggar's Opera (Penguin) is her first book. She lives in Ottawa.

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