Spacer Image

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Spacer Image

  Main Nav
All That Matters
Cover of All That Matters
All That Matters

Set in Vancouver's Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s, Choy continues the story of the Chen family household, this time narrated by First Son, Kiam-Kim. We first meet Kiam-Kim at the age of eight, staring at the yellowed photograph of his mother, who died in China when he was just a baby. Kiam-Kim, Poh-Poh (his larger-than-life grandmother) and Mr. Chen, his demure and honest father, journey to a new life in Vancouver's Old Chinatown. Following the dream of finding gold and then one day returning to China -- wealthy -- they, like many Chinese families around them, find themselves in a country on the brink of the Second World War, struggling to survive in a foreign land and keep alive the traditions of an older world.

Finely crafted, and rich in historical detail, All That Matters depicts 1930s Vancouver in the haunting hues of memory, and sees in the Chen family a fragile miniature of a larger world. Dwelling on Kiam-Kim's sense of responsibility to his community, Choy unfolds the Chen family's secrets in thoughtful and luminous prose, leading the reader to a breathtaking conclusion that far transcends the limits of its time and place, and gestures towards all humanity.

Set in Vancouver's Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s, Choy continues the story of the Chen family household, this time narrated by First Son, Kiam-Kim. We first meet Kiam-Kim at the age of eight, staring at the yellowed photograph of his mother, who died in China when he was just a baby. Kiam-Kim, Poh-Poh (his larger-than-life grandmother) and Mr. Chen, his demure and honest father, journey to a new life in Vancouver's Old Chinatown. Following the dream of finding gold and then one day returning to China -- wealthy -- they, like many Chinese families around them, find themselves in a country on the brink of the Second World War, struggling to survive in a foreign land and keep alive the traditions of an older world.

Finely crafted, and rich in historical detail, All That Matters depicts 1930s Vancouver in the haunting hues of memory, and sees in the Chen family a fragile miniature of a larger world. Dwelling on Kiam-Kim's sense of responsibility to his community, Choy unfolds the Chen family's secrets in thoughtful and luminous prose, leading the reader to a breathtaking conclusion that far transcends the limits of its time and place, and gestures towards all humanity.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • From the book

    ~ B E G I N N I N G S ~When I hear the sea wind blowing through the streets of the city in the morning, I can still feel my father and the Old One -- together -- lifting me up to perch on the railing of a swaying deck; still feel the steady weight of Father's palm braced against my chest and Poh-Poh's thickly jacketed arm locked safely around my legs. I was three then, in 1926, but I can still recall their shouting in the morning chill, "Kiam-Kim, Kiam-Kim," their voices thin against the blasts of salty wind, "Hai-lah Gim San! Look at Gold Mountain! Look!"

    I saw in the distance the mountain peaks, and my toes curled with excitement. As I pressed a hand over each small ear to dim the assault of squawking gulls, fragments of living sky swirled and plunged into the waste spewing from the ship's belly, and the sun broke through.

    All at once, the world grew more immense and even stranger than I could ever have imagined; I ducked my head to one side and burrowed blindly into Poh-Poh's jacket. Father plucked me off the rail and put me down to stand up by myself.

    Poh-Poh did not stop him.

    "We are near Gold Mountain," she said, her Toishan words shouted above other excited voices. "Straighten up, Kiam-Kim!"

    I watched as Father clutched the rail to hold our place against the surging crowd: he looked ready for anything.

    I put my own hands around the middle rail and threw my head back, and tried to look as bold and as unafraid as Father. Poh-Poh glanced behind her. A wrinkled hand shakily held on to my shoulder. I shouted to her to look at the swooping gulls, but she did not hear me.

    As the prow rose and crashed, and the Empress of Japan surged into the narrow inlet, gusts of bitter wind stung my eyes. At last, to greet the approaching Vancouver skyline, the ship blasted its horn.

    "Look there, Kiam-Kim!" shouted Father. "Way over there!"

    I looked: along a mountain slope, a black line was snaking its way towards the city.
    "See?" Father said, kneeling down to shout above the chaotic machinery clanking away in the ship's belly. "I told you there would be trains."

    I laughed and jumped about until the sea air chilled my cheeks. The Old One bent down to lift a thick coat collar around my neck. The air tasted of burning coal.

    "Listen carefully, Kiam-Kim," Father said. "Can you make out the train whistle?"

    I listened. But I was not thinking of trains.

    Grandmother had told me the story that dragons screeched and steamed out of hidden mountain lairs: sweating, scaly dragons whose curving bodies plunged into the sea and caused the waters to boil and the wind to scorch the faces of intruders until their eyes, unable to turn away, burned with tears.

    The wailing finally reached my ears. The black line turned into freight cars headed towards the city's row of warehouses and jutting docks.The train engine gave another shriek.

    In response, the ship blew its horn again. A shawl of sea birds lifted skyward. Ship and train were racing to reach the same point of land. People behind us applauded.

    Father raised his hand to shield his eyes against the dancing sunlight.

    "We're here, Mother," Father said to Poh-Poh.

    I said to myself, " . . . here . . . ," and gripped the rail even harder.

    The long train now disappeared behind a shoreline of low buildings. With my eyes following the great billows of smoke, I heard clearly the echoing screech of wheels.

    "The cries of a dragon," said Poh-Poh.

    Father said, "Just the train coming to a stop, Kiam-Kim."

    But the Old One's voice was so certain that I held my breath.

    ~ O N E...

About the Author-
  • Born in 1939, Wayson Choy grew up the son of Chinese immigrants in Vancouver's Chinatown. His father worked as a chef on a Canadian Pacific ship, and the young Wayson often accompanied his mother at evenings of mahjong. He watched Chinese opera, but wanted to be a cowboy.
    After attending the University of British Columbia, where he enrolled in its Creative Writing course, Wayson Choy left Vancouver and has lived in Toronto since 1962. He is Professor Emeritus of Humber College and is a faculty member of the Humber School for Writers; he taught English for thirty years until he retired in 2002. He has been a volunteer for community literacy projects and AIDS groups, and for three years was President of Cahoots Theatre Company. He was appointed a Companion of Frontier College in 2002.
    A teacher himself for many years, he acknowledges those who helped in his early writing days, such as Jacob Zilber who guided him towards writing a short story called "The Sound of Waves," which was selected for inclusion by the Best American Short Stories in 1962. Others were Jan de Bruyn, one of the first editors of PRISM magazine, and the poet Earle Birney, who taught creative writing at UBC. "I haven't searched out mentors; they have been a kind of gift to me." Choy was already teaching when he enrolled once again in the Creative Writing course; this time he produced the short story "The Jade Peony," which was first published in 1977 and would be anthologized many times before Choy was asked to develop it into a novel.
    The Jade Peony, Choy's first novel, is narrated by Kiam-Kim's three siblings — Sister Jook-Liang, Second Brother Jung-Sum and Third Brother Sekky — as they each grope for their own childhood identity within the Chen family in Vancouver's Chinatown. Their stories tell of poverty and racism. Published to glowing reviews, it became a runaway bestseller in Canada, and was published in Australia, Germany and the United States, where it was selected as a notable book by the American Library Assocation.

    It was after doing a radio interview about the book in 1995 that Choy received an unexpected phone call from a woman who had once been his babysitter, with a stunning revelation. At the age of 56 he learned that he had been adopted as a child. The feelings and memories unleashed inspired his second book, Paper Shadows, a memoir of his Chinatown childhood, which the National Post called a "lovely, agile dance of memory." It won the Edna Stabler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, and was shortlisted for the 1999 Governor General's Award, the Charles Taylor Literary Nonfiction Prize and the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize.
    Choy says, "I began writing the book as if it was going to be a light, entertaining read because I had a happy childhood, but the more I delved into the past, I realized that dark path of the ghetto, the racism, and the family sex life, and so on. So the book turned on me and let me see for the first time what Chinatown meant." On the other hand, his love and understanding of his deceased parents grew deeper as he learned about them through his research and his writing. Secrets were discovered that his family were not able to share, such as what had happened to the false papers they probably were destroyed to avoid being deported.
    Research forms an important part of the evolution of Choy's work, whether it takes the form of talking to older people about their memories or of looking through old documents and photographs in museums for historical context. However, the depth of feeling in All That Matters evolved from a profound source. While Choy was writing it, he had a severe asthma attack, leading to a coma,...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 6, 2006
    In Choy's lovingly detailed novel (following The Jade Peony
    and the memoir Paper Shadows
    ), three-year-old Kiam-Kim Chen journeys from China to Vancouver in 1925 with his father and his grandmother, Poh-Poh (a former Chinese slave girl). As he matures, he gains a stepmother, an adopted brother and two stepsiblings. Poh-Poh's unsettling stories of kitchen gods and ghosts provide vivid reminders of the Old China the family left behind. Set pieces form the novel's core, like Poh-Poh's elaborate preparations for her mah-jongg party when Kiam is eight. That's when he first encounters Jenny Chong, a "tiger" girl with a fierce temper (and, eventually, the good looks to match it). When Poh-Poh dies, Old China's ghosts really do come back—at least the ghost of Poh-Poh (who haunts Kiam's stepbrother, Sekky, so intensely that Kiam's embarrassed father hires an exorcist). As Kiam grows up, the relationship among Kiam, Jenny and Jack O'Connor, the Irish-Catholic boy next door (whom Poh-Poh had barred from their house) gets tangled in the complexities of WWII and the ethnic politics of the neighborhood. Choy's novel captures the spirit in which exile turns into assimilation.

  • Ha Jin, author of War Trash "All That Matters is a quiet and moving book. On the surface, the gentle narrative voice seems to belie the weight and power of the story, but as we read along, the energy accumulates and the momentum accelerates. The novel shows convincingly what is fundamental in humanity, and it also shows the author's firm belief in human decency. It is a genuine story of the Chens, a family that embodies the real immigrants, 'the wretched refuse' tossed on the American continent.I greatly admire Wayson Choy's craftmanship demonstrated in this book, particularly his way of blending the personal with the historical, his patience, and his restrained, sublte prose. Above all, his understanding, compassion, and wisdom. This is one of the best novels on the Asian American experience."
  • The Globe and Mail "What a pleasure to read Wayson Choy again. . . . The language, the rhythms and the images are so seductive and often so exquisite . . . a thing of sheer beauty. . . . In delicate balance, Choy holds the ghosts of the past and the resolve to survive in the present, two countries, two cultures, two worlds."
  • Maclean's magazine "A new book from Choy is an event. His writing has a quiet integrity and an exquisite grace that can electrify readers . . . Choy's handling of childhood memory is dazzling. . . . All That Matters is a beautiful novel."
  • Toronto Star "A magnificent novel . . . accomplished, heartfelt and true . . . a meditation on memory, love, family and forgiveness -- and aren't they all that matter?"
  • Edmonton Journal "Superb . . . Choy's effortless style is mesmerizing, and his characters are compelling. Perhaps the most enticing aspect of his writing is the glimpse he offers into the vibrant world of Chinese-Canadian culture at a time when they were still not fully accepted as proper members of Canadian society."
  • Time Magazine "In some ways, that is Choy's ultimate gift: to be able to employ words like ghosts, curses, blessings and omens and have even the most analytical of heads nod with understanding. Gold Mountain, the Vancouver of the 1930s that Choy has created, is where the historical meets the mystical . . . Choy sustains the balance even as he touches on heavier issues -- war, cultural divisions, a mixed-race love triangle. And life, he seems to tell us, isn't so hard to figure out."
  • Calgary Herald "Beautifully drawn . . . Choy is a master of evoking the exotic and seedy sights, the clamour and the pungent smells, of a crowded immigrant neighbourhood. . . . expertly wrought . . . a moving, fascinating read."
  • The Gazette (Montreal) "It's taken almost a decade, but there's good news for fans of Wayson Choy's memorable first novel, The Jade Peony. All That Matters, Choy's sequel to his earlier beguiling tale set in Vancouver's Chinatown in the 1930s and 1940s is every bit as good as its predecessor. . . . Survival, duty and filial obligation as some of the big themes All That Matters grapples with. . . . All That Matters is a paean to decency and humanity."
  • Ottawa Citizen "Choy writes beautifully of the sights, sounds and smells of daily life in a crowded household. His descriptions of family meals are perfect, sparkling little set pieces. . . . All That Matters rewards the reader with a richly textured evocation of childhood in a community as oppressive as it is nurturing. Once again, Choy has created a complex world, peopled with characters you will love as though they were your own family."
  • London Free Press "An immensely appealing novel. . . Populated with captivating characters and laced with a wealth of Chinese lore, the book, short listed for this year's Giller Prize, is a worthy contender."
  • New York Times Book Review Praise for The Jade Peony and Paper Shadows:
    "Rich . . . delightful . . . Choy ranges over this familiar territory with a fresh eye."
  • The Boston Book Review "A sweet and funny novel . . . beautifully written. . . . It renders a complex and complete human world, which by the end of two-hundred-odd pages we have learned to love."
  • The Globe and Mail "This is a haunted memoir, full of phantoms and secrets, but it is also full of rich historical detail and
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Doubleday Canada
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 1 titles every 7 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
All That Matters
All That Matters
Wayson Choy
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel