Magazine article Herizons

The Excluded Wife: By Yuen-Fong Woon

Magazine article Herizons

The Excluded Wife: By Yuen-Fong Woon

Article excerpt

THE EXCLUDED WIFE: BY YUEN-FONG WOON

MCGILL-QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1998, 295 PP.

Stories hold me with their allure. I'm always interested in alternative versions of human events for patterns in human endeavours go beyond kings and queens, emperors and assassins.

Official historians purport to give us the sift from the rubble of human destruction, to tell us the `truth.' But every achievement in history has been on the backs of the many individuals who fall off the pages of sanctioned history. Yet these are the very individuals whose sacrifices make their societies work, and who are also the most vulnerable-caught in the maelstrom of geopolitical shake-downs. So-called `ordinary' people who are actually extraordinary.

However, a different trend has begun to appear in later 20th-century publishing in North America. We are now getting more versions of alternative voices, including stories of women's struggles. The difference in the case of Yuen-Fong Woon's The Excluded Wife is that it is both history and herstory as novel. And that makes its endeavour both more exciting as well as more risky.

The Excluded Wife is the story of a generation of Chinese Canadian women forced to remain behind in China by Canadian racist immigration bars. Many of the women never made it to Canada to reunite with their husbands. The `lucky' few endured decades of misery. No wonder the Chinese Canadian community is such an extremely disrupted phenomenon.

Human history resides less in the museum, or the university, more in the stone of descendant remembrance. …

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