The Chinese Immigration (Exclusion) Act, passed by the Canadian government in 1923, stopped the families of Chinese labourers working in Canada from entering the country. Based on extensive interviews with Chinese women affected by the Exclusion Act, Yuen-fong Woon has written a riveting novel of their experiences told through the character of Sau-Ping. A village woman from South China, Sau-Ping marries an overseas Chinese from Canada in the late 1920s but the Exclusion Act prohibits her from joining him in Canada.For more than twenty years she remains in China, separated from her husband, taking care of his family members and struggling to survive during a turbulent period of Chinese history. To escape political persecution Sau-Ping flees to Hong Kong and spends three years enduring the appalling conditions of a refugee. With the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act she is finally reunited with her husband in Canada, but her struggle continues as she tries to rebuild her life with a husband she barely knows in an alien culture she does not understand.
"The Excluded Wife" gives voice to the first generation of post-war Chinese immigrant women, capturing the tragedy, courage, and triumph of those women who made the epic journey from China to Canada. Yuen-fong Woon is professor of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria.