“As my thoughts reached out to them, all at once I could envision hundreds of gossamer-thin threads of history and love, curiosity and memory, built up slowly across the time and space between us—a web of connections too delicate to be seen or touched, too strong to be completely severed.”
Nicole Chung has written extensively on themes of family, identity, race and representation in America. Her bestselling memoir All You Can Ever Know provides a compassionate yet unflinching look at some of the questions Chung faced growing up as a transracial adoptee in an overwhelmingly white town in Oregon, and the eventual search for her birth parents that coincided with the birth of her first child. She writes of reexamining her adoption — looking back to interrogate, for the first time, the “happily ever after” story she had always been told — and chronicles how she reached out to her Korean American birth family and eventually made contact, pulling apart the old, familiar narrative surrounding her adoption and her place in the world and weaving a new one. Chung’s instincts as a gifted writer and editor enable her to confront with both honesty and humor the hard questions, the profound grief, the complicated surprises and family secrets, and the unlooked-for joys of her search and reunion as she begins to take control of her own story.
“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 Pachinko,
Chung is a curious and wide-ranging writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Longreads, BuzzFeed, Shondaland, Vulture, and Hazlitt, among many others. Her interview subjects include Constance Wu, Kelly Marie Tran, John Cho, Leslie Odom, Jr., Amy Tan, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Celeste Ng. Her essays and articles about race, representation, Asian American issues, literature, pop culture, family, grief and loss, adoption, education, politics, and other topics have been widely read and shared. Chung, also a highly respected editor and an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, spent two years as managing editor of the beloved literary site The Toast and five years overseeing the digital editorial team at the indie publisher Catapult, where she helped lead the magazine to its first National Magazine Award. She is currently a contributing writer and editor at The Atlantic. Find her on Twitter @nicolesjchung.