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Denise Chong

Denise Chong was born in Vancouver and grew up in Prince George, B.C. She earned a BA in economics from the University of British Columbia in 1975 and an MA in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Toronto in 1978. She worked in the federal public service for a few years before focusing upon careers as a professional writer, first as a business journalist and later as a biographer. Chong now lives in Ottawa. Denise Chong is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Concubine's Children book cover

Non-Fiction Prose (Biography)

The Concubine’s Children: Portrait of a Family

Toronto: Viking/Penguin Books Canada, 1994.
Toronto: Penguin, 1995.
FC3850 .C5 C5 1995

Publisher’s Synopsis

Awards and Honours

1994 Governor General’s Literary Award–English–Non-fiction (Finalist)
1994 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction (Winner)
1995 City of Vancouver Book Award (Winner)

Non-Fiction Prose (Biography)

Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship

Toronto: Random House Canada, 2009.
DS779.32 .C86 2009
reissued in 2011 by Vintage Canada with new title: Egg on Mao: A Story of Love, Hope and Defiance.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Despite his family’s impeccable Communist roots, Lu Decheng, a small town bus mechanic, grew up intuiting all that was wrong with Mao’s China. As a young man he believes truth and decency mattered, only to learn that preserving the Chairman’s legacy mattered more.
Lu’s story reads like Shakespearean drama, peppered with defiance, love and betrayal. His steadfast refusal to acquiesce comes to a head, but not an end, with his infamous defacing of Mao’s portrait during the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square.

Non-Fiction Prose (Biography)

The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, The Photograph, and the Vietnam War

Toronto: , 2000.
Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2006.
DS559.8 .C53 C48 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

On June 8, 1972, a nine-year-old girl, severely burned by napalm, ran from a misplaced air strike over her village in South Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph—one of the most unforgettable images of the war and of the twentieth century—was seen around the world. The Girl in the Picture is at once a riveting personal story about Kim Phuc, a victim of war and later, under the Communist regime, a tool of propaganda, and a groundbreaking social history that offers a rare view of everyday life in Vietnam both during and after the war.

Awards and Honours

2000 Governor General’s Literary Award–English–Non-fiction (Finalist)

Lives of the Family book cover

Non-Fiction Prose (Biography)

Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance

Toronto: Random House Canada, 2013.
FC3096.9 .C5 C46 2013

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)


Book cover of Finding the Words

Anthology (Non-fiction)

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules

PS8373.1 .FR56 2011.

Chong, Denise. “Across the Divide and Back.” In Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules, edited by Jared Bland. Toronto: Emblem, 2011, 252-262.

Reading Writers Reading book cover


Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections

Z1039 .A87 R43 2006

Chong, Denise. “Imagining the Truth.” In Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections. Danielle Schaub, photographer and ed. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006, 184-185.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Byrne, Elizabeth. “Neither this nor that: The hyphenated existence of Chinese children growing up in twentieth century North America.” M.A. thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2005. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Available as an open access thesis from

Chao, Lien. “The Collective Self: A Narrative Paradigm and Self-expression in Three Prose Works.” Chap. in her Beyond Silence: Chinese Canadian Literature in English. Toronto: TSAR, 1997, 88-121.
PS8089.5 .C47 C52 1997

Gunderson, Michele Mary.  “Finding a Place in Nation: Autobiography and Embodiment.” Ph.D. diss., University of Alberta, 2003.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Lim, Huai-Yang. “Representations of Class Identity in Chinese Canadian Literature.” Ph.D. diss., University of Alberta, 2005.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Miki, Roy. “Can Asian Adian?: Reading Some Signs of Asian Canadians.” Chap. in his In Flux: Transnational Shifts in Asian Canadian Writing. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2011, 91-115.
PS8089.5 .A8 M55 2011


Publisher Penguin Group Canada

Publisher Random House Canada

Denise Chong entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia online