Born in Ottawa in 1956, Paul Sunga is the son of the first Punjabi to become a federal civil servant. His mother's Punjabi forebearers immigrated to Canada in 1908. The Sungas were featured in a 1980 NFB/TV Ontario documentary, 'A Sense of Family'. With degrees in biology and philosophy, he is a biomedical researcher in Vancouver with a doctorate in experimental medicine. He has also served as Director of International Development at Langara College and a consultant to the Canadian International Development Agency for bilateral programs in Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

Paul Sunga's first novel, The Lions (Orca, 1992), is about a Punjabi named Jaswant Sijjer and an abused Native Indian named Conrad Grey who separately struggle to find sanctuary without any spiritual guidance or home. The story ranges from Vancouver's Lower Eastside to a mine in Thompson, Manitoba, to a tenement in Toronto. [See review below]

Red Dust, Red Sky (Coteau, 2008) was written after Sunga's period of residence in the tiny independent kingdom of Lesotho, surrounded on all sides by South Africa. In it he explores multiculturalism and family history within the context of political upheaval in the aftermath of the murder of a student activist, killed by the South African police. Recalling the period when apartheid is coming to an end, Red Dust, Red Sky is narrated by Kokoanyana, a young girl in rural Lesotho, whose family is originally from India. As she seeks to learn more details about her absent father, she becomes increasingly aware of the extent to which the truth is being repressed. Just as the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho is encircled and stifled by South Africa, she is surrounded by lies and delusions.


The Lions (Orca, 1992)

Red Dust, Red Sky (Coteau, 2008) $21.00 978-1-55050-370-8

[BCBW 2008] "Fiction" "Punjabi" "Africa"