Michael Kaan was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and continues to make the city his home. His father was born in Hong Kong, and his mother in Canada. Kaan’s first novel, The Water Beetles, is based loosely on his father’s wartime diaries and stories. Kaan earned a degree in English and an MBA in health economics from the University of Manitoba and currently manages a mental health clinic.
The Water Beetles
Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2017.
PS8621 .A263 W38 2017
Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)
The Leung family leads a life of secluded luxury in Hong Kong. But in December 1941, the Empire of Japan invades the colony. The family is quickly dragged into a spiral of violence, repression, and starvation. To survive, they entomb themselves and their friends in the Leung mansion. But this is only a temporary reprieve, and the Leungs are forced to send their children away.
The youngest boy, Chung-Man, escapes with some of his siblings, and together they travel deep into the countryside to avoid the Japanese invaders. Thrown into a new world, Chung-Man befriends a young couple who yearn to break free of their rural life. But their friendship ends when the Japanese arrive, and Chung-Man is once again taken captive. Unwittingly and willingly, he enters a new cycle of violence and punishment, until he finally breaks free from his captors and returns to Hong Kong.
Deeply scarred, Chung-Man drifts along respectfully and dutifully, enveloped by the unspoken vestiges of war. It is only as he leaves home once again — this time for university in America — that he finally glimpses a way to keep living with his troubled and divided self.
Awards and Honours
2017 Governor General’s Literary Awards-Fiction, English Language (Finalist)
2018 Amazon Canada First Novel Award (Winner)
Publisher Goose Lane Editions