University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Denise Chong, 2017-2018 Canadian Writer-in-Residence

Denise ChongDenise Chong, an internationally published and award-winning writer, is best known for The Concubine’s Children, a memoir of her three generations of her family set between Canada and China. Called “beautiful, haunting and wise” by the New York Times Book Review, it was a Globe and Mail bestseller for 93 weeks. Her subsequent books were equally ground-breaking social histories: The Girl in the Picture, about the Vietnam War’s most famous casualty; Egg on Mao, a mediation on human rights which pivots on a young bus mechanic's act of defiance during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests; and Lives of the Family, an exploration of exile and isolation in overlapping stories about a handful of Chinese immigrants who find themselves in small town post-war Canada.

Born in Vancouver and raised in Prince George, Denise earned a BA in economics from the University of British Columbia and a Masters in economics and public policy from the University of Toronto. She began her working life in the federal finance department, went on to become senior economic advisor in the office of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and on his retirement in 1984, turned to writing. She published her first book at age forty.

A board member of the Writers' Trust of Canada, Denise is a past faculty member of the Sage Hill Writing Experience, where she led the non-fiction workshop. In Ottawa, she participates enthusiastically in a program that puts authors in classrooms.

During her time as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary, Denise will be at work on a fifth book, and as well, adapting her memoir for the stage. Denise holds four honorary doctorates, is a past co-chair of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, and in 2013, was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for “writing books that raise our social consciousness.”

Denise's residency began in September 2017 and will continue through June 2018.

Read more »