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NW Passages: Five things to know about Nicole Chung

May 14, 2019

Nicole Chung’s 2018 memoir, “All You Can Ever Know” tells her own story in a way that is not, in the words of Mariya Karimjee, writing for NPR, myopic. It is, rather, universal: “a story about learning to grapple with our own identities, about learning where we belong, and about families.”

Chung, who is Korean and was raised by a white family in Oregon, will be in Spokane on Tuesday to talk about her book and transracial adoption during a gathering of the Northwest Passages Book Club. Here are five things you need to know about Chung in advance of the event at the Bing Crosby Theater.

1. While “All You Can Ever Know” is Chung’s first book, she’s been writing all of her life. Literally – she’s kept a daily journal since she was a child. During college, she wrote poetry and fiction. “I feel like many adoptees are natural storytellers,” she said in an interview with Amry Kay Arnold in the Asian American Writers Workshop, “and I think it’s because a lot of us grew up telling the story of our adoption over and over.”

2. Chung is the editor-in-chief of Catapult Magazine, the online presence of Catapult, the independent writing incubator that publishes acclaimed fiction and nonfiction. Launched in 2015, Catapult showcases writers online, offers workshops and classes (both online and in person in New York) and also assists in launching authors when they are ready to publish manuscripts. Find it at https://catapult.co/.

3. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish her next book, a still-untitled “examination of class, grief and health care inequality. Navigating the gap between her working-class roots and the world she now inhabits – and the struggles her family faced leading up to her father’s death,” according to a news release.

4. Chung has a thirst for knowledge. Even if it’s the ending of the movie. As she recently posted on Twitter: “I don’t understand people who don’t love spoilers. Others have knowledge you don’t have! DON’T YOU WANT IT TOO”

This is particularly helpful as she hates horror movies, and has never actually watched one in full.

5. “There is, of course, no singular, universal adoption experience: some of us are very close to our adoptive parents and some of us aren’t. Some of us might want to connect with our birth families and our cultures of origin, and some might not,” Chung wrote in an article called “Stories of transracial adoptees must be heard – even uncomfortable ones” for the Guardian last month. “We need to complicate the stories and notions around transracial adoption: what adoptees go through and how we are allowed to feel about our experiences, how race is relevant to our lives. We must listen to transracial adoptees and make room for their perspectives, including the ones that make some uncomfortable – because when it comes to the well-being of adopted people and their families, the truth will serve far better than even the most comforting of lies.”