Devi: When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
NC: I’d say “Read a lot,” but everyone says that, and I hope everyone is also doing it. I always hesitate to give writing advice, I just don’t feel qualified, but I will say I’m grateful to be a flexible writer—by which I mean I don’t need any particular conditions to write. I don’t have a preferred time of day for writing; I don’t need a certain type of music or dead silence; I don’t seek out a certain space or room or coffee shop. I can make myself write just about any time, in almost any place or circumstance, probably with a lot of background noise (thanks, kids), and over the years I’ve found this to be a real professional strength. To me it’s never made sense, the whole notion of waiting until you have time, space, focus, permission, what have you, to write—I guess because I’ve never had the luxury of all those things at once. My “advice,” then, if you want to call it that, is not to wait until you think or feel that you can write, not to hope for perfect confidence or the ideal conditions, because you might be waiting forever. The only way to get it done, ever, is to just do it.
“I’ve been waiting for this writer, and this book—and everything else she’ll write—and now it is here.” —Alexander Chee, national bestselling author of The Queen of the Night and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“This book moved me to my very core. As in all her writing, Nicole Chung speaks eloquently and honestly about her own personal story, then widens her aperture to illuminate all of us. All You Can Ever Know is full of insights on race, motherhood, and family of all kinds, but what sets it apart is the compassion Chung brings to every facet of her search for identity and every person portrayed in these pages. This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever had, wanted, or found a family—which is to say, everyone.” —Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere
“Adoption is neither an incident nor a process—it is an evergreen story of lives growing and resisting simple definitions. Chung’s All You Can Ever Know takes the grammar of adoption—nouns, verbs, and direct object—and with extraordinary integrity remakes them into a narrative about what it means to be a subject. A primary document of witness, Chung writes her memoir as a transracial adoptee with honesty, wisdom, and love. Her search and what she discovers offer us life’s meaning and purpose of the very highest order.” —Min Jin Lee, author of Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko, a National Book Award Finalist.
https://t.co/UB2PEJh6Tk Thrilled to have @nicole_soojung as our @DebutanteBall guest! RT & follow to win a copy of her amazing #memoir ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW #writingcommmunity @devislaskar @KA_Doore @LayneFargo @estefsays @MFournierWatson #writinglife
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) January 5, 2019
Interviews with Nicole Chung: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah | NPR Weekend Edition with Lulu Garcia-Navarro | On Point with Meghna Chakrabarti | Live Wire with Luke Burbank | NPR Code Switch | KUOW’s The Record | KERA’s Think | KCRW’s Press Play | WNYC’s All of It| The Paris Review | The Atlantic | Longreads | NYMag/The Cut | Literary Hub | The Rumpus| Hazlitt