Wayson Choy died and lived to tell about it.
Well, he didn't quite die, but he came extremely close in 2001 at the age of 62 when he suffered a massive asthma attack, was put into a medically-induced coma, and then suffered a series of heart attacks while in the coma.
Now 70, Choy last month published a well-received memoir of his near-death experience called Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying . In it, he recounts his medical nightmare, as well as his life in Toronto living with a couple and their daughter - the people he came to realize are his true family.
That family, as well as another one with two children that he regularly boards with in cottage country, stayed with him throughout his health scare and urged him to fight on when he was at his weakest. A gay man without children of his own and no romantic partner, it was their unconditional love that saw him through.
"I am haunted by two themes, I realize, and in this book they become quite blatant," Choy told the Globe's Sarah Hampson in an interview last month. "I was really writing about how family is who loves you regardless of religious and blood lines. The second [theme] which was more powerful for me and became more obvious in the instance of nearly dying, was that love has no rules."
Choy, a teacher most of his life, began writing in earnest at age 56 after he turned a short story he'd written in 1977 into a novel called Jade Peony . Its release in 1995 was met with rapturous reviews.
He followed it up with a book about growing up in Vancouver with his adoptive parents, Paper Shadows, A Chinatown Memoir (1999). And in 2004 he released All That Matters , a novel that followed the life of one of the characters in Jade Peony .
His books have been nominated for both a Governor-General's award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Jade Peony won the Trillium Book Award in 1996 (a prize he shared that year with Margaret Atwood).
"I know I am a writer because until I'm writing I don't know what I know," he told Sarah Hampson.
Choy went back into hospital in 2005 for a quadruple heart bypass. Today he stays healthy with the help of pills and a trainer, and is working on a new novel.
"I feel I am in mid-career, in my mind and in my heart," he told Hampson. "I feel that this memoir has unlocked so much more that is deeper than I thought.
"I'm just a person who said this life is good enough, this life is quite wonderful, and I am lucky to have found it that way," he added.
Wayson Choy will be taking readers' questions for the next two weeks. You can send him your question via e-mail at email@example.com, or by posting it as a comment on this story.
We will run his answers in the newspaper and online on Saturday, May 16.
Please include your full name and the town or city you live in when submitting a question.