Toronto Book Awards

Kay's Lucky Coin Variety

2016 Toronto Book Award Finalist

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety is a bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. Told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, this critically-acclaimed book vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures. Family secrets, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined.

What the judges said . . .

She’s called Mary now, but her Korean name is Yu-Rhee. Outwardly, she’s obedient. Inside, she’s plotting her escape from her parents’ convenience store. Ann Y.K. Choi’s debut novel is a vivid depiction of two generations clashing and caring for each other on a dangerous street corner in 1980s Toronto. Mary is determined to evade her fate, which means making some risky choices. Kay's Lucky Coin Variety is unsentimental, bracing and beautifully balanced, a story that reveals the true costs of shifting between two names and two cultures.

Ann Y.K. Choi 

Originally from Chung-Ju, South Korea, Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada in 1975. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied English, Sociology, and Education. Ann graduated from the Humber School for Writers, the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and is completing her MFA in Creative Writing from the National University in San Diego, California.

Excerpt from Kay's Lucky Coin Variety 

Our convenience store sat on Queen Street in downtown Toronto. It was west of Bathurst Street at a corner popular with prostitutes, the homeless, and the occasional patient from the nearby mental health hospital. The CN Tower, the world’s tallest free-standing structure, was less than a ten-minute drive south, but much to the disappointment of any out-of-town guests, we had no view of it. Not that we had time for sightseeing. At seven every morning, Christmas being the only exception, we opened for business. Of all the staple items we sold – milk, bread, and newspapers – cigarettes and condoms were our best sellers.

Excerpted from Kay's Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi. Copyright © 2016 Ann Y.K. Choi. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.