Kwai-Yun Li

Kwai-yun Lis Hakka parents emigrated from Moi-yen, China, to Calcutta, India, where Kwai was born.

She grew up in Chattawalla Gully in the old part of the city, and emigrated to Canada through an arranged marriage in the 1970s. She has written about her childhood in Calcutta in her various books including The Palm Leaf Fan and A Kiss Beside the Monkey Bars, a collection of short stories. Her books are used as texts in university curriculum at Jadavpur, New York and the University of Toronto.

Contact Kwai-Yun Li


  1. Kwai Yun Li says:

    Great to see so much interest in Tangra Chinatown.
    Although I emigrated to Canada zillions of years ago, I still have relatives living in Kolkata. It was wonderful to see some of them in February of this year, when I had the Asian Writers Series tour to Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, sponsored by the Asia Society, Mumbai, and the Consulate General of Canada, Mumbai.

    As an aside, The Palm Leaf Fan is published in India by Penguin as The Last Dragon Dance.

    A Very Happy New Year to the members of the Kolkata Chinese Community.

    Kwai Li

  2. leon says:

    Hi … thank you for dropping by …

    we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for making us kolkata chinese something to be proud of 🙂

    ps: are you real Kwai Li ? >.<

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Kwai Li & Leon,

    Just like you, I was born Indian Chinese & left Kolkata in 70’s and never returned to India except for stopover at Mumbai in 80’s enrouting to London for further studies.

    While I’ve now travelled the world over on business/pleasure & have lived in Europe, North America and SEA, I still have fond memories of Kolkata. I often wonder how things are now in Kolkata & especially the livelihood of Indian Chinese.

    Coincidentally one day, I spotted on a newsclip about Kwai Yun Li and her books. Her background and experience excited & created an interest in me to pursue her stories. I ordered the book: The Palm Leaf Fan in the U.S. and read each chapter with great nostalgic interests. Apparently, Kwai Yun once lived in Chattawalla Gully and I believe she studied at Welland Gouldsmith School when she referred it as Dalhousie School. Am I correct ? I believe there were some names that I know of in some of the stories.

    Thank you Kwai Li for making Kolkata Chinese Indian proud. You truly stood up tall after all the humble beginnings you experienced. Continue to write great stories for us.

    Also, a great job for Leon for setting up this wonderful blog so that Indian Chinese worldwide can drop by and get updated with the latest and greatest happenings in that part of the world (Kolkata) where we once belong & continue to do so. Please continue to have postings and possibly some pictures of the Old Chinatown referred to in Kwai Li’s stories.

    Currently, I still have some distant relatives that live in Tangra but spend most of their time between Toronto & Kolkata.

    Keep up the good work. Here wishing a Happy New Year 2009 !! Cheers

  4. Kwai Yun Li says:

    Hi, Leon,

    Thank you for the website.

    Yes, I am the one who wrote Palm Leaf Fan and The Last Dragon Dance. Still writing.

    I live in Toronto, Canada now.


  5. ayesha says:

    Hi, stumbled across your site. im from south africa.i think my ancestors originate from china moi yen. when they came to africa they changed their name. i think it was moi-liang or moi. do you know where or how i can start to search for my ancestors. i think there are distant relatives still living in china.

  6. Vincent Liu says:


    My fore-fathers migrated to British India over 100 years ago. about one month ago, I was in Moi yan and I found my great grandfather’s house that he built in the 1930’s.
    To start tracing your roots, how long has it been since your family moved to Africa? Send me pictures of your ancestor’s grave head stone( usually they say where they came from ).Go to the local Chinese Association and see if they have any record. I will also need their Chinese Name.
    Last year, I helped a young lady in Australia find her Great Grandfather’s grave in America.

    Good Luck, and welcome to the journey of finding your roots.

    My e-mail is Liu_mengching@hotmail.com