Catherine Chung's Blog

October 12, 2012

Two years ago, when a magazine named me one of five Brooklyn writers to look out for, I was thrilled and gratified, but troubled by just one thing: I didn’t live in Brooklyn, and never had.

...Read the rest at the NYT!
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Published on October 12, 2012 18:35 • 258 views

August 27, 2012

I loved doing this interview with David Cotrone at Used Furniture Review.
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Published on August 27, 2012 10:19 • 125 views

June 14, 2012

Does anyone else love these books? I recommend three favorites for Barnes & Noble here.
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Published on June 14, 2012 22:39 • 147 views

March 5, 2012

With Matthew Salesses at Hobart Pulp:

With Lauren Bufferd at Bookpage:

Recent essay in The Rumpus: "From the Ruins":
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Published on March 05, 2012 21:31 • 161 views

February 29, 2012

Monday, March 19 at 6 pm
Dinner by The Book
Bann Restaurant, 350 West 50th Street
hosted by the YWCA
Three course meal and talk with Catherine Chung
For tickets, go here

Thursday, April 12 at 7pm
McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street
Reading with Peter Cameron
(Coral Glynn)

Friday, April 13, Time TBA
Association of Asian American Studies Conference
Capital Hilton Hotel
Reading with Krys Lee and Alex Gilvarry
(Drifting House & From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant)

Saturday, April 21, at 4 pm
Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza
Gotham: New York City’s Best Writers
Reading and Talk hosted by Leonard Lopate

Monday, April 30, at 12 pm
City College of San Francisco Library
Reading and Talk

Sunday, May 6, at 6 pm
McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street
Free Fiction Writing Workshop with Catherine Chung, for Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Sunday, May 13, at 7 pm
KGB Bar, 85 East 4th St.
Reading with Rajesh Parameswaran
(I Am An Executioner: Love Stories)

Thursday, May 17, at 7:30 pm
Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer Street

Sunday, May 20, at 7 pm
“Sunday Salon”
Jimmy’s No. 43, 43 E. 7th St.
Reading with Roxane Gay, Matthew Salesses and Megan Mayhew Bergman
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Published on February 29, 2012 04:55 • 254 views

October 31, 2011

Letters to Home
an essay by Catherine Chung

Every family has secrets. Ours was an aunt I'd never met, never even knew existed until one day forty years after she disappeared, she sent us a letter. She was alive, she told us: she'd gotten married, had children, thought of her brothers and sisters and deceased parents often. How was everyone, she asked. What had happened in our lives? And could we send pictures?

My aunt was a college student in Seoul when she went missing some time after the Korean War. The North Koreans had been kidnapping people for several years, and one night they raided her dorm. The next morning my aunt and a handful of other girls were gone. Even now, over ten years after I found out about her, this is almost all I know.

As a child, my parents' history had always seemed far away and long ago. This made it all the more mysterious, and Korea itself had its own pull on my imagination, a place so sorely missed by them, which had the power to transform them into happier, more comfortable people. Even though I hadn't been born there like my brother, I still learned the lesson immigrants must learn: how heavy the lost life weighs in the new one.

The revelation of my aunt's existence made clear how much had been lost that I didn't even know, how much of my own history was hidden to me. The magnitude still takes my breath away. Korea was one country when my parents were born into it. And then it split into two, and the two halves took drastically different turns. My aunt was taken to the other side in an act of violence, and she survived. She lived a whole life.

My family never spoke of my aunt because for a long time it was forbidden. It was dangerous to have relatives in North Korea, even if they'd been kidnapped against their will. It seems to me this must have been the hardest loss: the right to lay claim to those you love. Even though everyone had family on the other side, if you spoke of them openly, there could be terrible consequences. And so until recently, the whole country bore this in silence. They missed their lost ones quietly. And then my aunt wrote a letter, reaching out to us across the expanse of time and separation. Forgotten Country is a book about that expanse, and the voiceless longing to reach across it, and meet.

Forgotten Country
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Published on October 31, 2011 09:19 • 1,720 views